Enough waiting. Enough watching a shortstop who was an obvious short-timer. Enough sitting through this Braves season with one eye on the losingest team in Major League Baseball and one on a long list of prospects working distant fields, longing for a tangible return on our patience.
It is time to throw Dansby Swanson into the deep end. Time to remove the 22-year-old former first-overall pick from his Double-A egg carton and expose him to the uncompromising world of big-boy baseball. Time for this much-anticipated production to make its world premiere.
About. Freaking. Time.
The Braves traded Erick Aybar to Detroit Tuesday mostly for the chance to add some badly needed catching to their system (Kade Scivicque is his name, don’t ask me how to pronounce it) and to clear space for Marietta’s Swanson to get a little on-the-job Major League training.
Because of his hometown roots, because of the big fuss made when the Braves acquired him as a key part of a big Winter Meetings deal (upon parting with starter Shelby Miller), Swanson has become the position-player face of the team’s rebuild. It was time to put that face on the big video board at Turner Field.
His scheduled Major League debut Wednesday and the regular work the Braves can give him in a season without consequence will provide a reason to watch this product for at least a few days more. He figures to move right in and immediately become the Braves second most popular regular player – behind just his first baseman – at least down the stretch of a season that is otherwise as compelling as unbuttered grits.
While he had emerged from his season-opening coma, Aybar had been demoted by most to a place-holder until the infield tandem of Swanson and Ozzie Albies was ready to move up from Mississippi (Albies stays behind for now). Every game that Aybar played was one less opportunity for the future to take root.
First, what Swanson isn’t, at this stage:
“We don’t expect him to come up here and be the savior,” Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said.
“This isn’t a guy we’re going to run into the ground. It’s his first full year playing,” Hart said, while adding that Swanson nonetheless will enjoy plenty of playing time
“And we don’t think he’s going to be overwhelmed when he comes up,” he said.
What this situation represents is a jump-start for Swanson, a six-week internship that can be nothing but beneficial for everyone. The fans included, because they badly need a shot of something to believe in.
“Six weeks now is going to pay off down the line,” general manager John Coppolella said. “We will know more going into next year whether he can be our starting shortstop.”
If Swanson isn’t a perfectly polished gem now, so what? It’s not like he is going to kill the Braves drive for the pennant.
If he sputters, again a big so what? He’s making the leap from Double-A to the Majors, so expectations have to be tempered. And the relief of October is near.
“In a perfect world we would have liked to have given him a little more time,” Hart said, “but I think this presented an opportunity for us.
“I think Dansby is going to be able to handle it mentally. He’s not a kid who if he comes in and really struggles out of the gate that it’s going to affect him. This is a kid who finds a lot of ways to win games other than what he does with the bat. This is a kid who is going to learn a lot up here as well. He’s a sponge.”
Yes, it will be a significant step up from Mississippi, where Swanson was hitting .261 with 8 home runs in 84 games while playing nice in the field. All that resets Wednesday in likely his first at-bat for his hometown team.
Which leaves only one question.
What took so long?