Feldman: Cards still trying to figure out what Jason Heyward is offensively
Jason Heyward scores a run against the Chicago Cubs in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on May 6. (Getty Images)
Jason Heyward celebrates after scoring the go-ahead run against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium (Getty Images)
By Brian Feldman, BaseballStL
ST, LOUIS, Mo. (BaseballStL) -- The day Oscar Taveras tragically passed away in a single car accident in the Dominican Republic the Cardinals right field situation changed drastically. A move was necessary. And not just a small one would suffice.
Jason Heyward was the perfect fit for the short term.
The Cardinals were not quite ready to anoint Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty as the future everyday player at the position while Heyward had five years of experience under his belt and a 27-home run season on his resume.
There was just one problem though. Heyward's a free agent at the end of 2015, leaving the Redbirds with very little time to decide if they're going to make the former Atlanta Brave an offer which would tie him to the organization for the next seven, eight or even ten years.
Each at-bat is part of the evaluation process. Every catch he makes in right field, every stolen base, every conversation he has with teammates…these are all things the Cards – and GM John Mozeliak individually – are weighing between now and the end of the year.
Through 31 games – and 116 at-bats – results are mixed. The defense is tremendous. The base running is smart, efficient and full of max effort. One issue with Heyward in his Atlanta days was hitting left-handed pitching. Well, that hasn't been a problem here in St. Louis.
The 25-year old is batting .353 with a whopping .436 on-base percentage in 34 at-bats against lefties. He's proven he's not a platoon player at all. Heyward's been tremendous against southpaws.
But not everything has been all candy canes and rainbows. The overall line of .259 (batting average), .312 (on-base percentage) and .371 (slugging percentage) are all well below what the club was expecting. Granted, the man did get off to a very slow start (hitting just .217 in April) while he's crushing it at .364 so far in May. But this .220 batting average against righties is something that was much unexpected.
Then throw in the fact Heyward's hit just two home runs (putting him on pace for 10). Power was the other big question with him entering this year.
So, taking all of this information together, what do we know? The answer is we don't know enough. If we're still staring at these numbers in September it'd be a whole different discussion. There is so much to like about Jason Heyward (his makeup, his defense, his base running and parts of his offensive game).
But there's a lot to be concerned about at this point in time, too. And when you add it all up, it'd be hard to justify making the 25-year old a massive contract offer when guys like Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk are here and available at a much cheaper price.
No decision needs to be made yet. Not even close. Piscotty is still learning how to hit with his newly improved swing which is designed to generate more lift down in Triple-A Memphis. Grichuk is still rehabbing a back injury and has just ten at-bats all year. Heyward has a strangle hold on all the right field at-bats at the moment.
What he does with them will go a long way in determining what the Cards future looks like.