Milwaukee Brewers: Why Does JJ Hardy Get a Free Pass?
Over the course of every baseball season, just about every player will face criticism from the media and fans alike, despite whether or not it is warranted.
For some reason though, I never hear anybody saying anything negative about JJ Hardy.
Is he some sort of baseball prodigy? Have his baby blue eyes hypnotized Milwaukee into overlooking bad play? Or can complaints about Hardy not be heard over the screams and shrieks of teenage girls at Miller Park?
Hardy hasn't just been bad this year, he's been awful. Anytime a player can't even hit his weight, it's never a good sign. (Just for the record, Hardy weighs 190 pounds and is only currently hitting .174.)
Corey Hart and Mike Cameron have adjusted to their new spots in the batting order, but Hardy still looks lost at the plate.
It is well known that Hardy loved his slot as the two-hole hitter for the Brewers last season. He got to see a ton of fastballs batting in front of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, and to Hardy's credit, he came through with another 20-plus home run season and many big hits.
Now I won't take anything away from what Hardy has done in the past. 50 home runs during the past two seasons for a shortstop are very, very good.
Hardy also has a rocket-launcher attached to his right shoulder and can get a ball to first base as quick as anyone.
Hardy has one more year of arbitration this winter before becoming a free agent after the 2010 season. Many fans have been calling for Hardy to be locked-up to a long-term contract.
To those people, I ask why?
We have Alcides Escobar sitting in Triple A this year being groomed to eventually take over Hardy's spot at short.
Ned Yost is no longer the manager of the Brewers, and Ken Macha won't stay with Hardy like Yost did in other cases. If Hardy doesn't perform, no one should be surprised if Craig Counsell starts seeing more starts at shortstop.
I do feel that eventually Hardy will turn things around at the plate. However, he should be subject to the same standards that the rest of the team is held to.
As much as some people like to think, this isn't a popularity contest, and if JJ Hardy doesn't give the Brewers the best chance to win, he should be on the bench until he can figure out how to hit major league pitching.
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