Let’s take a look at the developing situation with Washington Nationals’ manager Matt Williams and young outfielder Bryce Harper from a different perspective: can you imagine the immediate and noisy backlash if Harper was actually sent down to the minor leagues at this point in his career?
The idea that demoting Harper might be an option emerged thanks to a radio interview with Williams this week. Harper is struggling, and so Williams was asked if he would consider sending him down to Triple-A to get back on track.
Instead of laughing at the question in all of its stupidity, Williams indulged it. He analyzed the question and offered an answer that started with “I don’t know” but then continued to lay out, in no uncertain terms, why it would be a bad idea.
Unfortunately for Williams, that lack of a firm “no” at the beginning of his answer spawned a follow-up question from reporters. And Williams was none too pleased to be asked. From CSN Washington:
“I will caution everybody in this room: The minute you think you can read my freaking mind, you’re sorely mistaken, OK?…It [ticks] me off to even think about the fact that somebody would take a comment I make on the radio and infer that I’m thinking one way or the other. I’ve had it. Don’t do it any more.
“Bryce Harper’s one of the guys on our team. He’s a very important part of our team. Just like everybody else is. Do we understand each other? It’s not fair to the kid, it’s not fair to the other guys in that clubhouse, to even think about sending Bryce Harper to the minor leagues, or to cause a stir. It’s unacceptable. It won’t happen.”
Hey, at least he actually said no this time, right?
Harper batted .228 in July and is batting just .125 in August. Generally speaking, he has not looked right since returning from a thumb injury earlier this summer. Even still, few would think of sending him down to the minors as a palatable plan, which is why the Nationals won’t go there.