The Yunel Escobar Trade: Atlanta’s Perspective

Earlier this afternoon Toronto and Atlanta consummated a trade that, at first glance, looks like a head-scratcher. Atlanta, ahead in the NL East by four games, traded their starting shortstop, Yunel Escobar, to the Blue Jays for a direct replacement, Alex Gonzalez, and two prospects. It’s easy to see Toronto’s perspective on this one, since they acquired a 27-year-old established MLB shortstop who has three more years until he reaches free agency. But why would the Braves trade away such a player for a 33-year-old in the midst of a career year that could come tumbling back to earth at any second?

Escobar established himself as a one of the league’s better shortstops last year, producing 4.3 WAR, fifth among shortstops in the majors. He accomplished that with a .357 wOBA, also fifth among MLB shortstops, and a slightly above average UZR. This year his defensive numbers have improved, a 4.4 UZR, but his offense has dropped off considerably. His wOBA has fallen all the way to .291, mostly because of his complete power outage. Of the 62 hits he’s collected this season just 12 have gone for extra bases, all doubles. That leaves his ISO at .046, sixth lowest among qualified major leaguers. The Braves just haven’t been realizing the production they expected from him.

Even so, it doesn’t seem likely that the Braves would trade a 27-year-old merely because he underperformed for half a season. They’re certainly playing to win this year, but that doesn’t mean they need to jettison a player who not only can help them in the future, but who might recover to produce a quality second half. From many accounts, the Braves based their decision on more than Escobar’s poor performance. There have been rumblings that the Braves don’t like Escobar’s demeanor and attitude, so perhaps they thought that his time had run its course in Atlanta. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened.

The Braves have a history of trading or otherwise getting rid of useful players with whom they became dissatisfied for one reason or another. For instance, a 22-year-old Tim Spooneybarger pitched very well for them in the bullpen in 2002, but they traded him in the off-season to Florida for Mike Hampton, who had pitched horribly in the first two years of his mega contract. Spooneybarger pitched 33 innings for the Marlins before requiring two Tommy John surgeries. Hampton went on to be a useful starter for Atlanta from 2003 and 2004.

Marcus Giles is another example of the Braves moving a player before his value bottomed out. From 2003 through 2005 he provided excellent value at the plate and in the field, producing 6.7, 2.9, and 5.3 WAR seasons. But in 2006 his production fell off from both ends, a .323 wOBA and a -5.6 UZR. The Braves non-tendered him rather than grant him a pay raise in his final year of arbitration. He signed on to play with his brother in San Diego, but was again horrible, a .283 wOBA and -4.7 UZR, producing -0.1 WAR. He hasn’t played in the majors since.

(And who could forget John Rocker, who was terrible from the second the Braves traded him in 2001?)

In terms of the present, Gonzalez provides the Braves with an instant fill-in at shortstop. He is in the midst of a career year, a .341 wOBA that rests mostly on the power of his .238 ISO. Power seems to be the only positive aspect of his offensive performance right now, as his OBP sits at .296. He still plays an excellent shortstop, a 3.1 UZR to this point, and he’s likely to continue providing the Braves with quality defense. On offense, however, chances are he’ll start hitting more like his .299 career wOBA.

The Braves did receive a couple of prospects in the deal, though neither ranked among the Blue Jays’ top 10. Marc Hulet mentioned that the two players, Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins, could have hit his Blue Jays top 10, but instead just missed the cut. Baseball America ranked Pastornicky 17th and Collins 19th in the organization. Pastornicky might have been the key to the trade, since he now profiles as a player who can eventually take over at shortstop. He’s just in A+ ball right now, but he’s just 20 and could move through the ranks to join the Braves in 2012. Here’s what BA says about him:

An athletic infielder, Pastornicky doesn’t have flashy tools but gets the most out of what he has. He has good instincts at shortstop, along with plus range and an average arm. He’s an above-average runner and basestealer, which opposing catchers quickly figured out as he swiped 57 bases between two Class A stops in 2009. Pastornicky has a line-drive stroke and projects as .275 hitter in the big leagues. The only thing he lacks is power, as he has hit just two homers in 636 pro at-bats. But as a potential top-of-the-order hitter who provides sound defense, he may not need it.

Tim Collins was an undrafted free agent when former Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi saw him play at Rhode Island CC. Chances are he fell out of the draft because of his frame — he’s listed at 5’7″ and 155 pounds — but he has done nothing but dominate in the minors. He walked a few too many hitters in 2008 and 2009, but he kept his strikeout rate remarkably high. This year, at AA New Hampshire, he has struck out 73 in 43 inning while walking just 16. Again, BA has a scouting report:

He gets outs with a solid fastball that tops out at 93 mph and a true 12-to-6 curveball that he spins really well. His quirky delivery helps him as well. He has a high three-quarters arm slot and does an especially good job of staying on top of the ball and driving down despite his height. He has a high leg kick and stands as far to the third-base side of the rubber as possible.

Scouts always have worries about the durability of smaller players, which probably hurts Collins’s stock now, just like it did in the 2007 draft. Still, he seems like a nice get for the Braves, who have already assembled a good bullpen. Like Pastornicky, Collins probably won’t crack the big league roster until 2012 at the earliest, though a mid-year call-up next year doesn’t seem all that outlandish a proposition.

After further examination, this trade doesn’t seem nearly as bad for the Braves as it did at first glance. Toronto still won their end, but that doesn’t preclude the Braves from claiming victory as well. They’ve gotten rid of a player whom they clearly do not like, and replaced him with a player who, if nothing else, will provide value on defense. The prospects also help out, and while neither projects as a future star both can be useful pieces in a year or two. Maybe it’s a win, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. But it doesn’t look like the clear loss I had imagined when digging into the topic.




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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

81 Responses to “The Yunel Escobar Trade: Atlanta’s Perspective”

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  1. Chair says:

    It’s a loss simply because one year ago the Braves would have received far more in a trade. This is by all means selling low.

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  2. atoms says:

    i know what the stock response on a sabermetric-focused site will be, but this move is about chemistry as much as performance. i understand measuring players by WAR, but escobar’s lapses in effort and mental mistakes have cost the braves over and over again. gonzalez is a better clubhouse fit, a roughly similar fielder, and will almost certainly provide more run production this season.

    yes, escobar is entering his prime and under team control for a few more seasons, but on the other hand, escobar is entering his prime and hitting .238, slugging .284.

    as you alluded to in the analysis, the braves have a pretty decent track record of unloading players while their perceived value was still higher than their actual value. rocker, giles, vazquez, francoeur, et al. escobar may or may not make this list, but it was the right move to make for the rest of 2010.

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    • Anon21 says:

      I’ve tuned into 85% of the Braves games this year. The meme about Escobar’s mental mistakes “costing” the Braves has no foundation in reality. On defense, he’s the same as he’s always been–excellent. His bat has been incredibly, unsustainably cool so far this season, which is EXACTLY why this is an idiotic time to move his contract. Even had the Braves just waited until the end of this season, his overall numbers would pretty much have to have improved. Now they’ll improve and benefit Toronto, while we get to watch Gonzalez’s power numbers regress to the mean in a bad way.

      Shit trade.

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      • Don Dolmes says:

        Not true. Tune in to a replay of Hanson’s last start vs. the Mets. He lazily ran after a pop fly right behind SS and let it drop….any kind of effort would have resulted in an out. He almost caused Glaus to injure his wrist on a lazy throw to first which pulled him off of the bag. If Glaus gets hurt, that would definitely cost the Braves.

        These were just 2 examples from 1 game….I’m sure there are many more.

        I am not disagreeing that he is younger, more talented than Gonzalez and probably worth a lot more than they got from him. But sometimes ridding the clubhouse of someone who is not giving 100% is worth it, even if that player is immensely gifted, cheap, and young.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I watched that game, and both incidents have been completely overblown. Yeah, he muffed the pop-up. Not for lack of effort, but because he lost the ball in the lights. That happens to everyone occasionally. If he were actually out there butchering routine plays all the time, you would see it show up in his defensive stats. It doesn’t. Yet another case where data is much better than anecdotes.

        As for the poor throw, I agree that it was a bad play, and that Yunel should have thrown with maximum effort. And yet even the announcers were saying that they had never seen Yunel do something like that before–one reason why it was so notable. One lazy play of that sort isn’t reason enough to do a fire sale on a talented young middle infielder, particularly when the very unlikely but feared consequence of a serious injury to Glaus never materialized.

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    • philkid3 says:

      “ill almost certainly provide more run production this season.”

      It’s most likely a toss-up, if not unlikely. It’s definitely not certain.

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  3. Evan says:

    Its a good trade because in the past the Braves have traded away other less talented players than Escobar after they’ve had poor starts and because they get a few prospects who may or may not pan out?

    For a team in contention I don’t see how this trade looks good. Gonzales doesn’t seem likely to have >10 HRs to prop up his OPS in the second half.

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  4. PJ says:

    While the Braves lost on the comparison of big pieces of the trade, the exchange of the pitchers may be in the Braves favor. Sorry, but the throw in SS doesn’t count.

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  5. David says:

    as a braves fan i could not be happier with the move. we got rid of the one bad apple in the club house and dont have to see yunel pout anymore. also we got rid of a number 7 hitter with 0 home runs and got a new team leader in hr’s. yunel has a lot of potential but this absolutely makes us a better team this year.

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    • Anon21 says:

      You do realize that the purpose of Yunel Escboar was not to cheer you up by fastening a jaunty grin on his visage, but to win baseball games, right? I don’t care if a guy pouts, so long as he produces. Now, Yunel was not producing with the bat, which was a fairly big problem so far this season. The solution to that problem was NOT to unload Yunel’s contract in exchange for a guy who has topped out at 23 HRs and is now 33.

      This trade makes us a worse team in 2010 and a weaker organization going forward. Frank Wren fucked up.

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      • atoms says:

        “Yunel was not producing with the bat, which was a fairly big problem so far this season. The solution to that problem was NOT to unload Yunel’s contract in exchange for a guy who has topped out at 23 HRs and is now 33.”

        ok, what was the solution? to stand pat and hope for a regression to the mean? and what was the mean exactly — was he always going to hit .373 with runners in scoring position like he did in 2009? are you certain that escobar, the 27-year old, has not topped out at 14 home runs?

        the braves hoped for a regression to the mean from francoeur for two-and-a-half years, and now the mets are doing the same. memes exist for a reason. escobar has made some brilliant defensive plays and has shown flashes of pop and clutch hitting, which has tended to fog the misplays and occasional 75% effort, which have put him in bobby cox’s sh*thouse a couple times every season for four years.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Atoms, what? Yunel and Francoeur are completely different players. Yunel has a track record as a high OBP and solid power (for a SS), while Francoeur had a track record of swinging at everything with below average power for a corner OF.

        Projection systems NEVER like Francoeur, while they really like Yunel for the rest of this year. His career OBP is 70 points higher than Alex Gonzalez. He makes 7% fewer outs. Regression will come, and it will increase the value of Yunel as Gonzalez’s value dwindles.

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      • atoms says:

        projection systems don’t like or dislike players, they make theoretically objective guesses about a player’s production. francoeur has consistently underperformed projections since 2007 (which, if anything, would contradict your argument about CHONE, etc., “NEVER liking” francoeur). escobar has vastly underperformed his projected offensive production this season; my point is, how do you know he’s going to regress to the mean and not simply move the mean lower and lower?

        projections are a wonderful tool, as are all the advanced statistical measures that this site and others like it provide and analyze. however, in my first comment, i said “this move is about chemistry as much as performance.” i actually quite like escobar as a player and i definitely expect him to have a better second half in toronto than his first half in atlanta, but by all accounts he was difficult to manage and aloof as a teammate. at some point you have to weigh a player’s performance and upside, which at 27 starts to look more and more limited, against less tangible negatives. the bottom line is he wasn’t producing enough to merit a future in the organization.

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      • Creek Johnson says:

        Wait so the Braves keep him and his attitude because he helps them win? Nobody knows what happened off the field, and I hardly think his “mental errors” are what made the Braves move him. I don’t know how you can say you just put up with arrogant players with awful attitudes (while they’re not producing) because they help your team win. Morale helps a team win too.

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  6. bvillebaron says:

    Dumb trade Wren. Another example of getting rid of a talent who is in Cox’s doghouse to appease him and then see him turn out to be a good player elsewhere (e.g. Jason Marquis). The shame of it is that Cox is gone after this year. The Braves have now traded away two kids who either (a) already are Allstars (Andrus) and (b) will be Allstars (Escobar) for Alex Gonzalez (since they now have nothing from the Texerira give away). Unbelievable! Absolutely unbelievable!

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    • Zack says:

      “and then see him turn out to be a good player elsewhere (e.g. Jason Marquis).”

      Wait, when did Jason Marquis turn into a good player? Year 1 working with Duncan, then he was downhill since then.

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      • Bronnt says:

        To be fair to Marquis, he’s been solid for three different teams since leaving the Braves. The season he had last year was definitely his best, especially considering he pitched half his games in Colorado.

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      • Zack says:

        His xFIP since leaving:
        3.99, 4.54, 5.44, 4.98, 4.91, 4.41, 6.62 (injured/SSS)

        He was solid 3 years, and bad 4 years. He’s no one someone should be complaining about losing, or not paying.

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    • bblackwell says:

      The Braves have Brett Devall and Stephen Marek. That’s not nothing.

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    • BX says:

      Wren didn’t trade Andrus. Schuerholz did.

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  7. Heather says:

    I have a feeling if Ed Wade or Omar Minaya had made this trade, hardly anybody would have ANYTHING good to say about it.

    It’s just the fact that Frank Wren is not perceived as a total moron that people are almost searching for reasons to justify the trade.

    Sometimes reasonably smart people make dumb moves.

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  8. Heather says:

    PS: If I’m a Mets or Phillies fan, I’m cheering this trade.

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  9. GTStD says:

    I agree that this trade is marginal in terms of future value from the shortstop position. Its trading in on current performance to try and get a power bat for the second half in exchange for a power void and poor clubhouse presence. Towards the bottom of the order in the National League, a power and strikeout guy is a little more valuable than a walk and get stranded guy anyways. They may miss him next year and the year after, but for this year, I think its a good move, and I think the upside of the minor leaguers more than makes up for a pitcher who, while unlucky, is still allowing a .292 average against him.

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  10. xdog says:

    I’m guessing the decision to move Escobar was made Saturday. YE ostentatiosly waved off everyone on a popup, including the CF whose play it clearly was, only to have the ball drop 6 feet behind him. Did the same thing later, only managed to make the catch. In between, he made a lazy throw to 1b that forced Glaus into the baserunner. Dinged his wrist, I hope not severely, but the game was stopped several minutes for treatment.

    I’ll miss Yunel for his athleticism but more and more he was looking lost.

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    • Bronnt says:

      Well, again, he had it, and then lost it in the lights. You’re using one play of bad/unlucky defense to argue against a season where he’s absolutely superb.

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      • Ryan says:

        And your talking about one half season were he’s been absolutely superb when he’s had a career of slightly above average performance. Think about it realistically, Escobar doesn’t play the field with any kind of cerebral game, he’s all athletiscism. Do you think he just got more athletic at 27? This half season is an outlier for Esco on defense plain and simple.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Ryan, DRS consistently puts him among the best defensive shortstops in the game every year. This year it’s even better, and I’ll take the numerical evidence over anecdotal evidence of one play. Even on that play, he lost the ball in the lights, which happens to everyone.

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  11. xdog says:

    Don’t beat up Wren for the Teixeira trade. That was Schuerholz’ deal. Even though it didn’t work out, I thought it was the right move at the time, since the Braves filled their 1b and cleanup holes with one move. Didn’t work, but they were ready to take a shot.

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  12. ABravesFan says:

    Not a great move on the Braves’s part on this one. I hope that Alex Gonzalez does not drop off completely in the second half.

    I got to agree with Anon21 that Escobar’s bad plays were overblown. However, we don’t know if there were some additional ramification of that in the clubhouse after the game (FYI, Troy Glaus looks rather displeased by the poor throw that put him in harm’s way).

    On the other hand, Toronto may not be the best place for Escobar to get back to prominence so the Braves may not have to regret this as much as seeing Elvis Andrus in the All-Star game.

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  13. Samuel says:

    The Cardinals really missed out… been talk about trading for Escobar for years, and when it finally happens its a package that the Cards could beat even with their poor farm system. Too bad.

    I guess the Braves might like Gonzalez better than Brenden Ryan or Tyler Greene as their replacement SS, so maybe it wouldn’t have worked, but it was sure there for the taking.

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  14. Hawksman says:

    I just love the excuses we’re already making for this joke of a front office. A substantial number of fans still believe the Mark Texiera deal was not devastating for this organiazation so this isn’t entirely surprising. Its amazing people don’t have any problems giving up one of the best young shortstops in teh game because of a low BABIP and “”character issues” that are completely overblown, they are more of an indication of horrible clubhouse leadership than anything else.

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    • atoms says:

      “this joke of a front office…”, the punchline of which is a four-game lead at the all-star break and one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. ok, then.

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    • BX says:

      Schuerholz is not the GM, Wren is.

      Stop talking about the first Teixeira trade, Wren didn’t make that deal.

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      • Hawksman says:

        The excuses people make for the Texiera trade to this day is what i’m talking about, its the same people who think its a good idea to sell low on the one of the best young shortstops in the game because you didn’t like his facial expressions after he struck out?

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      • BX says:

        I missed your point then, mea culpa.

        I agree that the Escobar trade was boneheaded.

        Anyone that thinks Escobar isn’t valuable just needs to look at the overall WAR numbers for AL shortstops.

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    • nick says:

      A substantial number of fans still believe the Mark Texiera deal was not devastating for this organiazation so this isn’t entirely surprising.

      Oh yes, how will we ever recover? We’re doomed to cellar dwellar status for years…wait, you mean to tell me we’re in first at the AS break? Yes devestating indeed. And it’s going to be years before the farm system recovers…no one is saying it was a good trade but the people that act like that trade crippled atlanta are just as off target as the people who act like we wouldnt even want feliz and andrus back. truth is it’s somewhere in between

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    • bblackwell says:

      Yunel has a low BABIP but Gonzalez doesn’t?

      Yunel’s is .270, should be .300.

      Gonzalez’s is .274, should be .320.

      Yet people are concentrating on how Yunel has been unlucky this year. If anyone in the discussion has been unlucky, it’s Gonzalez… Some people think BABIP should be the same for all players…

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      • Ray says:

        Which Gonzalez are you talking about? Certainly not Alex.

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      • bblackwell says:

        Yes, Alex. LD rate of 20.4% projects to an expected BABIP of .324.

        It appears I’m one of the few commenters that has viewed the stats without some sort of angle or preconceived notion… The inconsistencies in some of these arguments are astounding.

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    • KGB says:

      Let me help you with the facts. The Tex trade was 3 years ago. It was done with the realistic expectation (at the time) of getting the Braves to the playoffs and beyond. Most people thought it would get the Braves the pennant that year. They took a chance and it didn’t work out. Big deal. So how many of the players the Braves gave up would be starting for the braves today? None. So our farm system is decimated? Yeah right – only ranked 6th best in baseball with 6 players rated in the top 100 minor leaguers which by the way is more than any other MLB team. Players in the minors are used by good front offices to bring in established talent. Try to grasp an understanding of how good teams keep themselves in contention over the long haul. It’s easy to take potshots at past decisions. Strange how you seem to have no comment on the majority of excellent moves the Braves have made over the years.

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  15. K.S.T says:

    I wonder if the people who like this deal are the same ones that to this day continue to believe that the Texiera deal wasn’t that bad

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    • KGB says:

      In the context of when it was done, it wasn’t bad as most knowledgeable baseball people commented at the time. And as I’ve stated above our farm system is actually in great shape today none the worse for that trade.

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  16. Let's GO BJ's says:

    Hey all, AGon is a decent SS with a good bat, he will do fine in Atlanta. Hopefully Escobar will flourish under Cito Gaston’s hitting instruction, the same one that leads the Majors in homeruns, and bang out 15 by the end of the year.

    Ha ha… we win!!!

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  17. Mike Green says:

    RJ,that BA quote about Pastornicky needs a little updating. He has hit 6 homers in just over half a season in the FSL, including one or two to centerfield. For a 20 year old middle infielder with speed and good strike zone judgment, that changes the picture some.

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  18. john says:

    escobar is immature and a detriment to any team he plays for.

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  19. Shaun says:

    Seems the Braves think they can afford to take a hit in the on-base department in order to try to increase their slugging without downgrading too much on defense, if at all.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they use Tim Collins to improve their slugging elsewhere. I suspect they want to go all out to try to win this year, especially considering this move. Could they flip Tim Collins, one of their three great pitching prospects and maybe another second-tier prospect for a player like Adam Dunn? I doubt they would give up Julio Teheran or Freddie Freeman to win this season, especially if it means trading within their division, but I would imagine they’ll go all in on everyone else in their system.

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  20. Sean says:

    awful awful awful trade. This trade was just as bad as the teixeira trade, which cost us two all stars in Feliz and Andrus. I have been a die hard braves fan for life, but as far as this season is concerned i hope they miss the playoffs because of their stupidity.

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    • atoms says:

      i love it when people preface with “i’ve been a die-hard braves (or insert other team here) fan all my life,” and then say something to the effect of, “but i’d rather don a chase utley jersey and throw batteries at santa claus than watch them take the field without yunel escobar.” silly.

      and people, the teixeira trade looks like a dud in retrospect because the braves missed the playoffs, and because andrus and feliz have panned out. but at the trade deadline in 2007, they were only 3.5 games out of first. it was a risk, and it failed to put them over the top. the worst part of the whole situation was the weak return they got for teixeira from the angels a year later.

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  21. Saint says:

    you write a whole bunch of words to say, essentially, “this trade looks terrible but we should give atlanta the been the benefit of the doubt.”

    awesome work, bro

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    • dls says:

      Except thats clearly not the conclusion of the article.

      ‘The prospects also help out, and while neither projects as a future star both can be useful pieces in a year or two. Maybe it’s a win, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. But it doesn’t look like the clear loss I had imagined when digging into the topic.’

      It’s remarkable how so many readers of fangraphs lack basic reading comprehension skills.

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  22. Brian says:

    This trade is obviously short-sighted, but that may not be a bad thing. They seem to be banking everything on a WS run this year, so they’d probably rather have Gonzalez’s offensive production, even if it regresses, than have to deal with Escobar’s struggles. Escobar has more upside sure, but I’m betting that the Braves front office looks at guys like Edward Salcedo and Matt Lipka down on the farm as viable long-term solutions at shortstop. As a Braves fan, I’m not going to knock this trade much.

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  23. Lance says:

    Does anybody notice that Escobar is producing zippo? Infante has been a better option at SS, Gonzalez will be much more productive, we’ve got plenty of OB% with Jones, Prado and Heyward we need some SLG – enter Gonzo and I agree with the earlier post about moving some farm for another slugger…I think moving Cabrera or McClouth+ for a big outfield bat, such as DeJesus or even Carl Crawford would fit nicely

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  24. Ron A. says:

    The Braves realize they don’t get credit for the HRs Gonzalez hit with Toronto, right?

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  25. old man says:

    I’ve been a Braves fan since 1966 (I’m 53, only a tad senile) and everyone I have talked to (albeit all Braves fans) love the trade.

    Escobar: always puts on a show in the on deck circle; always throws a handful of dirt down the third base line; always writes some secret script in the dirt with the bat handle before entering the batter’s box; always has his right side hip pocket pulled inside out (no, it’s not a hanky); always looks up at the scorer when he is given an error and says “fuck you;” never runs to first on a ground ball; etc., etc., etc.

    He has great talent. I love his type of player, but what kind of sportsman and teammate is he? Even if Gonzales only hits .240 with 7 more homers this season, it’s an even swap for 2010, on paper. But for the Braves, it’s addition by subtraction, based on the chemistry. I love baseball stats, but this is not about stats. Braves fans are split on Escobar, but the mere fact that he is the subject of heated debate down here only illustrates what the
    Braves have accomplished. They can get on with business.

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  26. GoJaysGo says:

    I think this was a good deal for both teams.
    Gonzalez is completely underrated defensively and he’s really been swinging the bat well this season and likely has another 10HR in him.
    Escobar needed a change of scenery and the Jays have a decent young controllable SS for the next 3 years.
    I think Braves fans will be surprised by how good a player Gonzalez is, I know I was.
    I remember in 1992 the Jays acquired David Cone at the deadline, without him we would not have beaten the Braves in the World Series. The price of David Cone was future Hall of Famer Jeff Kent. Looking back now, the deal was still very much worth it, let’s hope that Gonzalez contributes to a Braves World Series victory and Braves fans will view this deal as part of the price of winning a World Championship. Good luck to Alex and the Braves!

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  27. Route19 says:

    I like the move. While I am concern about some of the stuff being said about Escobar in Atlanta, and I was mildly supportive of both the prospects (esp. Collins), Escobar is 6 years younger and has the talent to be a top end shortstop.

    Maybe the change of scenery will help is desire.

    Plus I think this is only the start. Probably gonna be a few other names getting new addresses soon.

    http://route19.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/blue-jays-add-escobar-say-goodbye-to-gonzalez/

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  28. Dan says:

    My problem with the trade as a Braves fan is this:

    1. There are several contenders in need of a SS who would give up prospects to get Escobar.
    2. Given that Escobar has 3 more cost controlled seasons after this one, I have a hard time believing that those prospects would not have been better than Collins, Pastornicky and whatever the Braves would have given up to get A. Gonzales.
    3. So, shouldn’t the Braves have shopped Escobar to the highest bidder and then turned around and traded 2 B-level prospects for Alex Gonzales?

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  29. MBD says:

    It wasn’t too long ago that Escobar was untouchable in a potential Peavy trade. Between that and the Braves’ recent appreciation for OBP (outside of Garrett Anderson, of course), I have to think that their opinion of Escobar, whether his talent or his attitude, must have dropped pretty far for them to dump him and accept Gonzalez and some prospects in return. Gonzalez is an out machine, and the only excuse for buying outs with your 27-year-old starting SS is that you know something beyond what’s apparent to the rest of us. I’m curious to see what that is.

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    • fjrabon says:

      well, you’re right except for the fact that the Braves would have without a doubt traded him for Peavy. Peavy didn’t want to go to the Braves that year and nixed the deal.

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  30. D-Rock says:

    This guy is supposedly a hard worker off the field (so said Braves coaches) but an absolute loafer on the field. I don’t claim to watch the Braves every day, I don’t, but the times I’ve seen him this year he’s botched easy grounders to him and last week was captured during an ESPN completely dogging it after a short pop up over his head.

    I think the Braves grew tired of it and saw themselves better this year by getting rid of him and plugged in a veteran. I don’t think this has a thing to do with grabbing Gonzalez because they think he’s going to hit 12 dingers in the second half. I really think it’s about getting rid of the sour attitude.

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  31. lucask7 says:

    We should also consider Yunel’s ability to consistently throw his bat in a way that threatened the safety of the home plate umpire and opposing catcher. This always bothered me and was a clear example of why he may have been difficult to get along with.

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  32. fjrabon says:

    First of all, to all the people talking about Esco just having an “off half”, look up the numbers of how many players have an “off half” as bad as Esco at age 27, after being a full time starter for a few years. Very few, so this is somewhat unprecedented, and those that did, more often than not, precipitated a general decline in skills.

    Isn’t like a borderline written in stone tenet of fangraphs that players hit their peak at age 27? People keep talking about his potential like he’s 21 years old and has “unlimited potential”, he doesn’t, he’s 27, at his supposed peak and is having his worst season ever. Yet, people are saying he has tons of upside? He hasn’t gotten it at age 27, he hasn’t matured, he’s not going to.

    Will Escobar be as bad as he has been in the first half? Probably not, it would be borderline impossible. Is he going to be as good as he was last year? Probably not, he was as lucky w/RISP and BABIP last year as he is unlucky this year. He’s probably going to be about what he was in 2008, which is a slightly above league average player at SS. Then he’ll start declining.

    That’s not even mentioning his attitude problems. Some people care about team chemistry, some people don’t. Some people don’t care about it, because they think it doesn’t matter to a team’s performance, which is okay to believe. However, I get the distinct feeling here that some people don’t think it matters because it’s hard, if not impossible, to quantify. Which is a logically fallacious reason to deny something is important. Saying chemistry and attitude don’t matter because you can’t give them a number is as dumb as the people who think batting average is the best stat out there.

    Unlike many of the people here who say things like “I’ve watched some Braves games and Escobar seemed fine” I’ve watched all but a handful of games over the past couple of years. Escobar loafs on the field all the time. He throws temper tantrums about being charged with an error. I’ve even seen him look over his shoulder when a pitch was about to be thrown to see the ruling on the previous play. He’s one of the worst baserunners I’ve ever seen, despite being relatively fast.

    His OBP is okay, but if you watch how he gets there, it’s completely backwards. If there is nobody on base, he hacks away at the first pitch, regardless. If there is a man on 3rd and Nate McLouth then the pitcher are about to come up, that’s when he walks. Again, I know it’s hard to quantify that, so people will deny its existence, or say its selective memory or whatever, and that may be the case, but believe me, if OBP can be overrated, Yunel Escobar’s is.

    Defensively this is a wash. Escobar might throw out a few more runners than Gonz will, but Gonz will cleanly handle more routine type plays. Their range seems roughly equal to me.

    Escobar was likely not in the Braves plans after 2011 is what this deal says and I think for the duration of the contract you’re trading a guy with slightly more power for a guy with much better OBP, then you’re getting a couple of decent prospects in return, which seems like a relatively equal trade.

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  33. Jon says:

    Alex Gonzalez is also probably going to be a type B free agent. He made $2.75m this year. Assume they offer him arb and he’s just hit 25hrs, do you think he’s going to want to sign for $3m or $5m? He’s probably going to turn down arbitration if it was offered to him so the Braves could have a crack at getting another player to help them even more in the future.

    Maybe they see a strong draft class in 11?

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  34. fjrabon says:

    Also, people keep talking like this is all BABIP bad luck. Have you looked at his percentage of flyballs that don’t leave the infield this year? Escobar does two things right now at the plate, hit lazy popups that don’t even sniff the warning track and slap singles/groundouts. Aren’t those supposed to be two things that stat guys say aren’t a product of bad luck?

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  35. strikethegold says:

    I could understand if he was getting arrested, throwing things in the dugout, or fighting other players. But he’s done none of that. All he has done is occasionally have mental lapses, which happens to every player.

    Chipper let a slow grounder go through his legs the other night. He had a mental lapse. Are people calling him a “clubhouse cancer” as a result?

    “Team chemistry” is a nebulous concept, and a difficult one to manage; sometimes, the most unlikely teams come together at the right times, while a team full of veteran, workaday players falls apart.

    Trading for Gonzalez may help team chemistry, or the Braves may miss Yunel’s spark, whatever his “popularity” on the team may have been. Who knows? But we do know we’re getting a SS on the downside of his career, and we’re giving up a SS who hit .297 in 839 minor league ABs, and .291 in 1,622 major league ABs (including his struggles this year).

    By the way, his split stats show he has been a much better hitter after the All Star break.

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  36. S Sansom says:

    Me and my wife had the opporunity to be at the July 4 game against the Marlin. Now granted my wife does not follow baseball but halfway thru the game my wife asked was Yunel hurt because he was hustling at all. She could see Brooks Conrad, who started at 3rd that day, was diving after balls and cutting off half of Yunel’s balls. Then after her seeing him jugging to first on a grounder she turned and asked me was he injured. Yesterday I asked my wife to guess who got traded and my wife answer was “probably that guy that wasn’t hustling”. She doesn’t follow the game but she could see that lately he was not even trying. So, I wishh we could have gotten more in the trade but glad to see him gone.

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    • Baron Samedi says:

      Cool story, bro. Maybe your wife should run a baseball team.

      Typical Atlanta fan or most typical Atlanta fan?

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  37. hoho says:

    Has no one ever worked with someone so completely intolerable or troublesome that their company just had to get rid of that person in order for others to get anything done? Why is it so difficult to believe that Escobar was that person? It’s a valid question to ask if the Braves got enough in return for him, but since we’re all pretty much assuming here, I’ll go ahead & assume that a) Braves scouting likes the 2 prospects a lot more than we realize, and for very specific reasons, and b) Yunel’s distractions and attitude problems may have actually been much more problematic than we realize, & that other teams may have been aware of this.

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