Addition by subtraction: The Braves trade Yunel Escobar

It wasn’t just that Yunel Escobar was slow to learn a second language. He was slow to learn to be a professional. How many times do you have to be told to hustle — a concept that should be universal — before it’s clear you just don’t care to do it?

No one can suggest the Braves didn’t give him a fair chance. He played 446 big-league games for this club, and his excesses worsened over time. And it’s one thing to hang on to a problem if the problem is hitting and driving in runs, but at age 27 Escobar had ceased doing that. He has no home runs, 19 RBIs.

Even with the Braves in first place, this was the right move at the right time. We shouldn’t worry about the absence of Escobar roiling the waters. He was always the guy most apt to upset the others with his disregard for the game and its conventions. He was always the Brave the others could count on to carry himself least like a Brave.

Escobar’s defenders believed the language barrier — he defected from Cuba — led him to misunderstand and be misunderstood. Coaches Chino Cadahia and Eddie Perez, each of whom acted as interpreters, told me as much last season. But should a big-league player fail so repeatedly to perform the basic task of playing hard? The message seems to get through to Omar Infante, a Venezuelan who also uses translators.

A tiny example: On a Sunday afternoon earlier this season, Escobar drove a ball in the gap in left-center. His hit brought home the go-ahead run, but somehow he managed to get thrown out at second base on a ball so perfectly placed that it would have been a double for anybody else in the big leagues. (Put it this way: Sid Bream would have made it.)

Escobar got thrown out because he watched the flight of the ball and admired his work, as opposed to running hard. The Braves noticed. The Braves always noticed. As one man in the clubhouse said afterward, exasperation in his voice: “He has been told time and time again.”

About the trade: This isn’t an exchange of equal talent. Alex Gonzalez is a serviceable big-league shortstop who played on a World Series winner with Florida in 2003 and delivered the biggest hit — a walk-off homer in Game 4 — of the Series. He’s 33, which means he’s not a long-term answer. (Inside baseball: As a Marlin, Gonzalez was known as “Sea Bass.”)

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Perhaps Tyler Pastornicky, the minor-league shortstop also acquired in this deal, will develop. But what Frank Wren suggested Wednesday was that the Braves aren’t much worried about tomorrow. “We’re two years away from having to worry about that,” the general manager said. “After the 2011 season … we’ll cross that bridge at that time.”

This trade tells us the Braves no longer saw Escobar as a long-term answer, either, and they were justified in that conclusion. “He’s a talented guy,” Wren said of Escobar, “but we needed to make some adjustments on our ballclub. It just wasn’t happening here.”

This is a happier clubhouse than it has been in years, and not just because the team is in first place. Because these guys like and respect one another. The one guy who didn’t fit — and who was never going to fit, no matter how many chances the Braves offered — just got traded. “In the short term, this really improves our ballclub,” Wren said, and it improves it not because Gonzalez is a greater talent but because he’s a real pro.

Addition by subtraction, I believe it’s called.

438 comments Add your comment

F-105 Thunderchief

July 14th, 2010
12:35 pm

matt_t

July 14th, 2010
12:37 pm

Love the move, they already have a lot of high OBP guys and the power was a need. The defense doesn’t drop off much and is definitely a WIN NOW move, which is nice to see.

F-105 Thunderchief

July 14th, 2010
12:38 pm

That said, if Pastornicky is a real prospect, then … well, let’s see. We’re going to need replacements sooner than later on that side of the infield. Is Omar an answer?

wawel78

July 14th, 2010
12:38 pm

I hope you’re right.

Forsyth Dawg

July 14th, 2010
12:38 pm

Totally agree, Mark. Yunel may still have a great career, but he just wasn’t a fit in Atlanta. Glad Wren made another move to help the team win for Bobby’s last year.

F-105 Thunderchief

July 14th, 2010
12:39 pm

What would be the coolest thing is if this Collins kid is as good a pitcher as we got for Edgar.

gt92

July 14th, 2010
12:42 pm

NICE JOB FRANK WREN!

a

July 14th, 2010
12:42 pm

Andrew Sisson

July 14th, 2010
12:42 pm

This is a fantastic move. A big escobar fan but he never produced. GOOOOOD Move!!

Sonny Clusters

July 14th, 2010
12:42 pm

We was shocked!

bluedar

July 14th, 2010
12:43 pm

MARK RIGHT :) YUNEL NO BUENO :(

JF McNamara

July 14th, 2010
12:44 pm

Production and players wins ball games.. not how good you get along. The Braves just made their team worse. There’s no way to justify that. Maybe they should hire a manager who can handle a disruptive player since that is his job.

bvillebaron

July 14th, 2010
12:44 pm

Mark:

Your track record of being wrong continues. Seems to me the clubhouse was happy this year even with Escobar. I think the Braves made a mistake here and this is from someone who has defended Wren in the past when you and Jeff took shots at him.

Bob Didier Caught (and slept) here

July 14th, 2010
12:44 pm

Hey Mark,

Wonder what the Blue Jays saw in Escobar that they would be willing to make this trade. Maybe a change in scenery will translate into a change in attitude!

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 14th, 2010
12:45 pm

I’m not a Braves fan but one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that they don’t tolerate people who don’t play hard. This proves it again.

coop

July 14th, 2010
12:45 pm

I wish Yunel the best and hate to see him go. Not only did he carry our team last year, but I had the opportunity to see him working with kids at a local children’s hospital. He’s a sincere guy who I think got a bad rap.

DP

July 14th, 2010
12:45 pm

Mark, did you notice Escobar’s half hearted lob to first about a week ago that nearly resulted in a broken arm for Glaus, who had to reach into the runner to field the throw and make a tag? I think that one might have been the last straw. I agree with you, good move by Wren.

Disbott 3000

July 14th, 2010
12:46 pm

This might be the drastic move needed to shake Escobar out of his mental coma. He might end up having a fabulous career, but I don’t think he would have done so if he didn’t suffer the indignity of being traded like this. Let’s worry about next year after November and be glad to see Wren making moves to try and improve our team NOW.

Ted M

July 14th, 2010
12:46 pm

Will Gonzalez start tomorrow night?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley and others. Mark Bradley said: My thoughts on the Braves' trade of Yunel Escobar. (I like the move.) http://bit.ly/dmfgaQ [...]

@DanWeiner

July 14th, 2010
12:47 pm

Edward Salcedo an 18 year old Dominican the Braves signed recently is the future. Do your homework.

OH no

July 14th, 2010
12:47 pm

Gonzalez doesnt have a history of being a power hitter… i think the braves are taking a chance on this guy continuing his power output when the most homers he has ever had in a year is 23. A CAREER .248 HITTER i’d rather the braves take their chances on esco turnin it around or finding someone else.

Kevin

July 14th, 2010
12:48 pm

Not taking up for Escobar but NOBODY loafed & half hearted ran more than Fred McGriff and nobody seemed to say anything negative about him. He NEVER hustled.

Geez Louise

July 14th, 2010
12:48 pm

Eat your homework.

Sonny Clusters

July 14th, 2010
12:48 pm

When Bobby kicked that chair we knew Escobar was gone. Coach kicked a chair once but he was nowhere as old as Bobby.

Scott Wallace

July 14th, 2010
12:48 pm

Yunel was a prima donna who died his hair blonde. good riddance

NikkiFree

July 14th, 2010
12:48 pm

I knew Yunel’s time would be up if Wren decided to make a trade. Yunel has been nothing short of a disappointment on the field. His attitude has frustrated me AS AN ONLOOKER. I can only imagine how Bobby Cox feels.

Power Up In My Pants

July 14th, 2010
12:48 pm

Escobar for Alex Rodriguez? What a bargain!!

Oh, wait…

TheTruthHurts

July 14th, 2010
12:49 pm

Kevin…when was that?
Why not mention Ken Oberfeld’s weight problem while you’re at it?

Power Up In My Pants

July 14th, 2010
12:49 pm

Oh, Adrian Gonzalez.

Wait, what?

Joey

July 14th, 2010
12:49 pm

Excellent move. You can never get enough guys who have won a world championship. I like Esocbar’s talent. Never like his easy-soured attitude. Other players and especially the Umps didn’t like it. And the lack of hustle sometimes.

Plus, we got that Domincan 18 sensation who’ll be here in a couple of years.

Yunel Escobar

July 14th, 2010
12:49 pm

Where is Toronto?

DawginLex

July 14th, 2010
12:50 pm

Good move.

Mark, have you heard that bobby johnson is out at Vandy?

Jake

July 14th, 2010
12:50 pm

I’m not concerned about the long term at shortstop, we have Gonzalez for a bit, then when either Salcedo, who from all I’ve read here and Braves news sounds to be a big time bat, and now this new guy, sounds like an awesome trade

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

July 14th, 2010
12:50 pm

good trade, like getting the 2 minors as well..bye JoJo

chpatt`

July 14th, 2010
12:51 pm

@Kevin: The crime dog hit 30 hr a season……Escobar and his lack of hustle may have been justified if he was hitting at least .275 with a half dozen home runs…..238 and ZERO home runs, along with lack of hustle and his drama queen attitude were hurting the clubhouse. Escobar ALWAYS sat by himself in the dugout bc he only cared about himself.

jim

July 14th, 2010
12:51 pm

I hope this will be a wake up call for Yunel. He’s a good kid. He just needs to quit daydreaming about what color to dye his hair next, and focus a little more on what’s going on around him on the field.

Hank Jr.

July 14th, 2010
12:51 pm

Damn Yeah. Do it for Bobby.

grandpa peckinpah

July 14th, 2010
12:51 pm

@ JF Mcnamara…so production wins ball games? well yunel has been the most unproductive regular all season, no to mention AGon has been more “productive” this year. so what are you complaining about again?

NC Braves Fan

July 14th, 2010
12:52 pm

I agree completely Mark – it’s a Francouer 2.0 type of trade. The distractions overshadowed the gifts, and it was time to pull the trigger.

What’s nice about Gonzalez is they can plug him right into Yunel’s spot in the lineup and generate more offense than they got in the first 90 games of the year in the process.

Scott W.

July 14th, 2010
12:52 pm

This is a great trade.

Yunel Escobar

July 14th, 2010
12:52 pm

Seriously…where is Toronto?

mowreck

July 14th, 2010
12:52 pm

Yunel arguably, the best defensive shortstop in the division, but also with one of the worst attitudes. When you have an “8 man team”, that one more “team” guy may push them to the World Series. We shall see.
p.s. maybe our next manager, I hope, (F.G.) advised them on that one.

Offended patron

July 14th, 2010
12:53 pm

Whatever dude.

Ted M

July 14th, 2010
12:53 pm

It seem like we all have our Escobar stories. My fav, on the infamous scale, was not tagging up from third on the warning track fly ball earlier this season. No explanation for that what so ever.

Realist

July 14th, 2010
12:53 pm

Doesn’t happen all that often, so it needs to be said loud and clear, “MARK BRADLEY NAILED IT.” Escobar had a million chances to grow up, and he chose not to do it. Gonzalez may be a downgrade defensively, but his power will be useful down the stretch. Now we need to find a new SS of the future.

Time Out

July 14th, 2010
12:53 pm

I liked Yunel’s Cuban music when he came to the plate.

F-105 Thunderchief

July 14th, 2010
12:54 pm

Maybe Wren can get Alex’s brother Fredi in here next?

Matthew

July 14th, 2010
12:55 pm

Gotta love the people saying this makes the team worse. Seriously. Yunel might turn into a great player one day, but c’mon, this year, this clearly makes the Braves better.

Yunel: .238, 0 HR, 19 RBI
Gonzales: .259, 17HR, 50 RBI

Time will tell on this trade (like almost all trades), but this clearly gives the Braves a better change to win this year.

HmmmPowerOutage

July 14th, 2010
12:55 pm

Yunel’s power outage is mysterious….10 HRs, to 14 HRs to 0 HRs in over 300 plate appearances. He has a two cent head. This trade is the Braves M.O. trade away a player to an AL team, reap prospects and get the right guys back to improve your club. Renteria went to Detroit for Jair, Joey Devine to Oakland for Mark and Jamie Kotsay (I miss Jamie).

Hello Atlanta – remember our last trade of a can’t miss guy for a shortstop??? That would be the Andy Marte trade to get Renteria and then get the BoSox to pay for Renteria too…..did that work out for us? Remember those days back in 2005? When the Braves went to the playoffs?

Yunel – Don’t let the door hit you where g-d split you…..

Addition by Subtraction is too simple…I think we added to the Braves club on this one.

Cito Gaston – please help Yunel get straightened out….tell the kid to spend more time on his game and less time on getting the dye job of his hair right..

Go BRAVES!!!!