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.