Trolling in the Deep (South)

It is no secret the Atlanta Braves believe in doing things “the Braves Way.” As with any dogmatic school of thought, there are often bumps in the road to success. The ignominious exit of Yunel Escobar is just such a casualty of this “our way or the highway” SOP.

Oh well, the Braves loss was the Jays and Escobar’s gain. Not everybody appreciates swag, especially when it pouts its way through a particularly bad stretch of baseball.

With the Jays visiting the Brave this week, Atlanta Journal-Constitution baseball writer Dave O’Brien welcomed Yunel back to the ATL with open armsboth guns blazing. Citing a universal loathing for the former Bravo among Braves players and coaches, O’Brien states nobody “regrets” the move a year later. Aaron Gleeman has a great breakdown of the piece, I encourage you to click through and give it a read.

If only the story ended there.

In my infinite professional wisdom, I took to twitter; wondering aloud if O’Brien is a Braves stooge as a rule or if this was a one-off case of carrying water for the team. O’Brien reacted as you might expect: poorly.

His subsequent retweets sent a legion (with a small L) of Braves fans to my doorstep, claiming I was way off in stating the Escobar for Gonzalez & minor leaguers trade was “indefensible.” Maybe I was way off, except..

  • One fan claimed Escobar was mired in a two-year slump before the trade, even though he posted a .299/.377/.436 slash in 2009 after a .288/.366/.401 2008.
  • Admittedly, Escobar was bad for the first half of 2010, posting a meager .238/.334/.284 line. That’s bad, right? Alex Gonzalez, in nearly 600 plate appearances as a Brave, owns a slash .245/.289/.384. That is also bad. Too bad for Yunel Escobar, no other player in baseball history ever endured an extended slump. Tough break, kid.
  • I was told, in as many words, that only people who play the game inside “computer simulations” view the trade as lopsided, as it gives no weight to “team cohesion” and that every in the Braves clubhouse felt the same. I dutifully pointed out that the division rival Phillies are equally happy to see Alex Gonzalez in the Braves lineup every day.

All told, most of the Braves fans I “encountered” were lovely people after a little back and forth. The Braves made a rash deal because of personality clashes, which is their prerogative. Interesting note: they just called up Julio Lugo from AAA, where he posted a .286 on base. At triple A. Hustle and heart!

If Braves fans are happy to continually send out a bad player in lieu of a good one because of attitude, more power to them. It just means more bargains on the trade market for deft hands like Alex Anthopoulos. As a Jays fans, that suits me just fine.

If Braves reporters are content to run a zip wire on the company line, that works, too. Everybody needs a little fisk bait from time to time.

Comments (13)

  1. Matt-T is going to be PIIIIISSED.

  2. I find it a little hard to believe that literally everyone in the Braves organization hated Yunel Escobar in the Braves organization, though I don’t that it is too much of a stretch to say that if there was a level of dislike among Braves players/management that it could lead to worse performance by either the player in question (Escobar in this quasi-example) or some of his teammates. I feel like this happens for everyone at work and these guys have to spend a lot more time together than normal office mates. I feel like if Jim Bowden started contributing at Getting Blanked it would cause many of people to lose their minds.

    Thus, if you assume this hell-on-earth was the case in the Braves locker room you can understand why they would want to trade Escobar. The reason it was a bad trade was because they sold low on an average/above average player and bought high on a crappy player having some of the best months of his long career showing that he wasn’t very good. Certainly the Jays are ecstatic about the trade, and while the Braves may be happy to have Escobar gone it is a bad trade for them because it just doesn’t seem like they got market value for a slumping shortstop even with some character issues.

    The main point is that even if you thought it was a good deal at the time (it wasn’t) if you go back in time knowing what you know now, the Braves may still try to trade Escobar but would want something much more than Alex Gonzalez in return.

  3. Escobar pissed two people off-Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox. And if you piss those two guys off, you are pretty much done in that town.

    I was told over Twitter from people in ATL that the press was ridiculously hard on the dude when he was there, and that last night, there were quite a few Escobar jerseys in the stands.

    Tim Hudson gave Escobar a pat on the back in the first inning yesterday, so Hudson doesn’t hate him and possibly other guys don’t either. And maybe no one says anything about regretting the deal because they know who Escobar pissed off.

  4. Chipper has come out and declared point blank: “I never wanted Yunel to leave” so if Yunel pissed anyone off, it was probably Bobby Cox and Cox alone. It looks like Cox lost patience with Yunel and forced Frank Wren’s hand.

  5. Wren was trying to do a very difficult thing: trade a player for his immediate replacement. Jays fans remember these kinds of trades from the Gord Ash. Trading Escobar for Gonzalez is not unlike trading Clemens for Wells or Green for Mondesi. Sure you get some spare parts thrown in but those rarely amount to much. Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd didn’t really make up for the drop off from Clemens to Wells much less Pedro Borbon make up for the downgrade from Green to Mondesi. Similarly, Pastornicky and Collins (who was already moved for a rental of Ankiel and Farnsworth) won’t really close the gap between Gonzalez and the combination of Escobar and Reyes.

  6. * the Gord Ash era.

  7. If Braves fans are happy to continually send out a bad player in lieu of a good one because of attitude, more power to them.

    out of curiosity, are there other recent Braves trades that fit this description? far be it from me to defend the Braves, but to describe it as an organizational philosophy seems a bit strong.

    this reporter, on the other hand, seems unquestionably douchy.

  8. Watch the link to the video I posted on my site (click on my name, it’s on the bottom of the top post), where Chipper talks about Yunel’s whistling and how it irritates him and how when Escobar does it, Jones shoots him dirty looks, and then tell me that Chipper likes the kid.

    This whole “I never wanted him gone” is a complete rewrite, as far as I’m concerned. But the bigger veto was Cox.

  9. Hey Dave!
    No not pissed, Yunel got unfair criticism his entire time in Atlanta.

    maybe it has helped in the clubhouse, I don’t know how you measure that, but the braves lost in that trade, bottom line.

  10. I’m not sure if Chipper was asked a question or just starting talking about Escobar…but even if he wanted him gone, would he really state it vehemently to a reporter?

    Escobar doesn’t play the game the right (i.e. White) way. This is to the Jays benefit and to the Braves detriment. Case closed.

  11. Heyward to the Jays. you heard it here first.

  12. Joanna,

    After watching that video, I’m even more convinced that Chipper liked Yunel. Chipper is smilling the whole time while telling that story and pretty good-natured about his annoyance. I don’t sense anything like real animosity. Chipper talks about Yunel like a annoying little brother not a bad teammate. If anything that clip reinforces my sentiment that the whole Yunel saga was just a massive overreaction on the part of Braves management.

  13. Chipper also seems to have had some sort of work done on his face, so maybe his doctor told him he will only be able to smile until the work that had been done settles down.

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