Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

How long should Braves wait on move to Albies, Swanson?


I don't mean to keep picking on Braves shortstop Erick Aybar who somewhat has become the everyday face of the team's' failings this season. (The focus shifted from his .175 batting average to him nearly choking on a c hicken bone in Pittsburgh . Not sure if that affects his WAR.)

But here's the question: As the Braves' front office spends the rest of season waiting for the finish line, they'll have to start making decisions like the ones involving prospects Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson. Both have been knighted as the team's shortstop and second baseman of the future -- Albies is in Triple-A Gwinnett; Swanson is in Double-Mississippi -- although nobody is certain which will play where, or for that matter when.

There's obviously a temptation to bring one or both up to the majors at some point this season and begin the process of acclimating them to big league pitching. But the issues are two-fold: 1) Potentially rushing them and therefore damaging their development; 2) Starting their "service" clock, which determines how long the team will have salary control.

Here's the choice: Public relations or economics.

PR screams: Make the move(s) now.

Economics scream: wait.

As Jeff Passan of Yahoo writes :

By bringing either up this year, it starts their service clock in the midst of a truly worthless season. Surely the Braves learned their lesson about not minding service time by starting Jason Heyward in the big leagues and losing the extra year of control most teams prioritize. Aybar’s play could become so malodorous that Atlanta feels like it needs to make a P.R. move, considering the team moves into a new stadium next year.

The Braves need some good PR. They're 12-31 and their season is relatively over with 119 games left. If you're looking at this from a marketing perspective, that 62 home games, or more 3,074,332 seats to fill. I don't know how many people would actually buy tickets just to watch Albies or Swanson this season but they're certainly not going to show up to watch Aybar.

Aybar was a career .276 hitter with a .315 on-base percentage, .374 slugging percentage  and a .694 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). In 40 games with the Braves, he's hitting .175 with a .216 OBP, .204 slugging and a .421 OPS. He appears to be drinking from the B.J. Upton/Dan Uggla fountain of devolution.

Via Passan again:

Aybar, the Atlanta Braves’ 32-year-old shortstop, is currently on pace to post the single worst season for a hitter in the past century. His line: .175/.216/.204. That .421 OPS would shatter the record of .461. Aybar’s OBP would be the worst as would his SLG. Same for his batting average, if not for Ryan Howard. And then to have the indignity of missing a game because he got a chicken bone stuck in his throat. If Aybar weren’t making $8.5 million for this festival of sucktitude, you might feel bad for him.

I can't add anything to that.

So what should the Braves do? I lean toward: suck it up and wait. But there's going to be enormous pressure to bring one or both up this season to give fans a sneak peak.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.