Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Impatiently waiting on Swanson, Albies


Each day dawns with the same hope: Sometime in the early afternoon the AJC’s Dave O’Brien will Tweet out the Braves lineup and somewhere in those precious few characters will appear the revelation, “Swanson 6.”

If “Albies 4” is also included, all the better.

And each day that passes without the appearance of Dansby Swanson at shortstop – the name Aybar still entrenched at the position – seems like another day wasted. OK, one less reason to put aside the book and watch the Braves that night.

We have witnessed a half-season-plus of Erick Aybar, and that is enough. Even on a good day like Tuesday, in which Aybar went 2-for-3 to “boost” his average to .212, he is still the focus of discontent with where the Braves stand in their great rebuild.

Aybar, through no design of his own, has come to represent nothing of the Braves' better future but rather a roadblock to better days. A clog in the drain of progress.

Of course, he arrived in a difficult position, as part of the trade that sent the immensely popular and defensively brilliant Andrelton Simmons to Anaheim. Aybar supposedly represented an improved offensive option, yet here he is now one of the most offensively inept regulars in the game, hitting 55 points lower than Simmons (who was slowed by a thumb injury early this season).

After 94 games, it is clear that the ultimate test of that trade will not be Aybar’s bat but rather the arm of Sean Newcomb, the pitching prospect part of the deal who is now showing great promise in the Southern League. Aybar has played himself into the role of afterthought, of an irritation whose mere presence at the plate can make a Braves fan break out in a rash. Nothing personal, that’s just what happens when your performance leaves no room to argue for being the better option.

Much more encouraging to watch from afar the goings-on in Mississippi, where in the Double-A Braves most recent game, Swanson hit his seventh home run of the season and drove in four runs. His compadre at second base, Ozzie Albies, who was brought down from Triple-A Gwinnett in order to bond, added an RBI and a pair of hits. That took his M-Braves average to .375.

They are virtually screaming down on the farm: “Hey, we’re ready. And even if we’re not, we’d be a far more intriguing watch and a much wiser investment in the future than anything you have going on now in Atlanta.”

Every day that begins with Aybar on a Braves lineup card is an insult to the great rebuild, actively working against the idea that this team is headed anywhere brighter.

Meanwhile, I await that uplifting tweet of change. It will come. Just seems like it is taking forever to compose.


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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.