Confidence Lost: Carter Kieboom Deserves Better

Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals, August 9, 2020 at Nationals Park. Photo credit All-Pro Reels / CC BY-SA

Arguably the most vital yet simultaneously fickle attribute that athletes possess is confidence.

A trait that is gained in more ways than one yet can be lost in so many more ways. Most players who’ve blessed with innate or inherent confidence are the fortunate few who’ve known nothing else, since birth. For the rest of the world, gaining confidence comes through continuous reactionary conditioning, galvanizing confidence under the stress of life’s relentless exams.

Whether Carter Kieboom was born with confidence or not, let’s assume that like the rest of us, his confidence can be lost.

After yet another demotion and given Kieboom’s present standing with the Nationals, his once fading confidence now has little-to-no room left to thrive given that things stay the same. Kieboom has now unfortunately been placed at a crossroad I doubt that anyone (including Kieboom himself) ever saw coming.

Think about what happens now. Dave Martinez, reveling in the glory of his recent World Series win, has gone too far. After moving Anthony Rendon to the Angels in the offseason, third-base was all but guaranteed to be Kieboom’s. A whopping month into the season and suddenly, he’s with the taxi-squad.

You tell me how this quote from Martinez reads. From the Washington Post (not or any ole national syndicate, possibly the newspaper delivered to his neighbors) in an article written by Jesse Dougherty, Martinez comments on Kieboom’s demotion.

He’s going to get tons of at-bats, and I told him: ‘Hey, you’re going to be our third baseman,’” Martinez said. “We just want to get you right. We want to get your swing right. You’ve been playing third base really, really well. He has really played well. So just go down there and get your swing right. As soon as we deem that you’re ready, and back to who you are, which is the guy that drives the ball to left-center field, drives the ball to right-center field, squares balls up, then you’ll be back here playing third base. So keep your head up. You’re not the first young kid to go down.

The part that bugs me the most is, “As soon as we deem that you’re ready, and back to who you are…” As Martinez adds a litany of hyperbole in the same lazy fashion most MLB managers have grown accustomed to you’ve got to wonder a) how that played out in actuality and b) whether Kieboom was (who knows) rallied? Let’s be honest in saying that whatever that was, it certainly wasn’t a very uplifting pep-talk.

I’ve been watching baseball my entire life and I’ve now covered it for the past 3 years. I know the general “tracks” prospects are set upon. And right now, after Kieboom’s consistently been inconsistent at the MLB-level, I don’t see him and the Nationals ever panning-out in the same manner Dave Martinez so eloquently put such.

Therefore, now it’s the Nationals (& Kieboom’s agent) part to play. Either trade him or play him. There’s no “third option” because, for Carter Kieboom and especially at this stage in his “career,” the other “option” of scrimmaging versus teammates for another lousy month isn’t copacetic whatsoever. Plainly, he deserves better.

Undoubtedly someone will bring up Kieboom’s numbers. And they should because in baseball numbers aren’t everything, but they’re damn sure close.

For those of you reciting Kieboom’s 2020 stats around right now, I get it. They’re not good. However, numbers, confidence, and baseball, they all go hand in hand. How can a player build confidence and therefore produce numbers after he’s been demoted? How is it possible to build an MLB career on only one AB in the bottom of the 8th vs the other team’s fireballer after sitting for the past 8 innings?

Let’s be honest, even if he did manage to get on base somehow, and go 1-for-1, and did his job, that doesn’t even remotely necessitate him starting even the very next day. No way. Sometimes certain players don’t ever get a fair shot. It’s a terrible part of the sport and in life, period. But regardless of whether we like it or not or even if it’s fair, these are the ways that things go.

Perhaps given a fair shake, different results would’ve emerged. I hope, I really do, that Carter Kieboom gets back to “who he is,” is indeed “deemed ready” by Martinez & Co., comes back, and rips the cover off the ball en route to a long-lived Nationals’ career. However, I highly doubt that’ll happen.

Therefore they need to do the honorable thing and give the kid a clean-slate with another team. I know that there’s a team out there right this moment who’d love to have Carter Kieboom as their everyday 3rd baseman. Plus the Nationals would most assuredly get a nice piece back for Kieboom. The trade deadline is today (August 31st as this column is being published). Make it happen Washington Nationals.

There comes a point in any investment when the buyer needs to believe in her investment. The Nats obviously do not believe in Carter Kieboom. I do, however.

I hope the work speaks for itself.
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