When I heard news of Atlanta trading shortstop Yunel Escobar (and Jo-Jo Reyes) to Toronto for shortstop Alex Gonzalez (and minor leaguers Tim Collins and Tyler Pastronicky), my immediate reaction was “What the what?!?”. Sure Escobar has struggled this year (.238/.334/.284, 1.0 WAR) while Gonalez has enjoyed a big-time power surge (17 HR, .259/.296/.497, 2.4 WAR). The prospects coming over to the Braves aren’t shopped liver. But then there some other things:
* Escobar is 27 and under team control for three more seasons, while Gonzalez is 33 and is a free agent after this season if his club option ($2.5 M) is declined.
* Escobar is projected for a .335 wOBA for the rest of this season; Gonzalez only .308 (ZiPS)
* Escobar, in his down season, still has an OBP almost 40 points higher than Gonzalez’s in his career year.
* Last one; Escobar: .368 career OBP, Gonzalez: .294 career OBP
Word is that the Braves didn’t like Escobar’s attitude and effort, and have been looking to ship him out of town. Even given that, how could they not have done better than Alex Gonzalez? I mean, the Orioles have their own over-performing veteran (Corey Patterson), and could have included a shortstop (Cesar Iztruis) and a couple OK prospects. Would that have been enough to pry away a potential start shortstop from Atlanta? I’m partly irritated because this makes the Blue Jays better going forward (division rival), and partly because I like the Braves and this seems like a bad move even if you think they did it just for this season. It also hurts in a jealousy sense; the Jays take a flier on Alex Gonzalez to fill in at a position this year, and end up trading him for a team building block; the Orioles take a flier on Garrett Atkins (for twice the money), he sucks, and then gets cut.