The Braves recently made a five-player deal with the Blue Jays, and I’d like to take an objective look at the who’s-who of the matter. Atlanta sent SS Yunel Escobar and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes to Toronto for SS Alex Gonzalez and two minor leaguers, 2B Tyler Pastornicky and LHP Tim Collins.
The Braves had the division lead at the time of the deal, and they essentially traded away two players that didn’t have much to do with their success so far this season. Not much has changed for Atlanta after the trade, as they are still 5.5 games up… I remember posting a while back that the Braves didn’t stand much of a chance at making the postseason this year. I can see that I underestimated Atlanta, and that I gave the Phillies a pass. I should have recognized the fact that the Phillies did have a roster filled with old-timers and injury risks, but I didn’t, so I have to admit that I was wrong. I did mention that I thought the Cards would take the central and two teams from the West would round out the playoff picture. Anyway, Reyes only pitched 3.1 innings this year (9 ER) so let’s say that he is a definite non-factor in 2010. That leaves Gonzalez and Escobar:
Escobar: .238 BA, 28 R, 0 HR, 19 RBI, 37 BB, 5 SB
Gonzalez: .259 BA, 47 R, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 17 BB, 1 SB
Based on first half production alone, the Braves are clear winners on this one. However, Escobar is the more disciplined hitter, and as we’ve seen since his arrival in Toronto, he was due to break out of the slump. Let’s stick with tangible considerations before the trade was made.
I make this case for the Braves: they are in first place in the division without Escobar’s help, and they added another player with some pop to help them close the deal and make a playoff run.
I make this case against them: they are in first place in the division without Escobar’s help, and they traded him away (before his bat came to life) for an over-achieving aging hitter who may have benefitted from playing in hitter-friendly ballparks.
Then you get into the intangibles; I heard things about Escobar’s attitude. Whatever, I thought that’s what managers were for. I will concede that if there were negative attitude issues at work, then this is a win for both the Braves and Escobar.
The Braves also dealt Reyes and received two 20-year old prospects. The Braves win this one, hands down. Reyes is probably not going to be anything more than a minor league player, and he’s already on the downhill slope toward 30.
Tim Collins: LHP – 46 IP, 10 Sv, 2.35 ERA, 78 K / 17 BB
He’s only 5’7”, but he is being groomed as a closer in AA. I don’t know much about him, but I read somewhere in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he sports a mid-90’s fastball and a good curve. I don’t know what the long-term goal is for the kid, i.e. bullpen or rotation, but his strikeout rate alone makes me salivate at his future fantasy potential. Let’s face it, relievers that strikeout two or three guys an inning are fantasy baseball’s wet T-shirt contests.
Tyler Pastornicky: 2B – 81 GP, .259 BA, 51 R, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 41 BB, 24 SB
I don’t know much about this kid, either. He’s obviously fast. Time will tell if he’s a Ryan Theriot or an Ian Kinsler.
I think that the Braves made a good move with this trade, and I have read things that suggest the search isn’t over. They are still looking to improve. The second half looks pretty good for Atlanta now that they’re healthy and confident. I’m not making any predictions, but I don’t see the Mets or Phillies getting better without making some trades.
So, in unrelated news, I had this grand idea that I would chop down one of my trees with an axe. I decided I would wear shorts while chopping said tree. I started pounding away on this bad boy, and after about five licks I felt a pinch on my leg. I looked down and saw, with great horror, a swarm of yellow jackets attacking my legs. There were several on my right leg, stinging away. More of them hit me from the left flank, taking a high-low approach from my left ankle all the way up to my waist. As I began to fight back and swat the winged demons, I saw that there were two more on my arm. Panic!
I ran. Sprinting, swatting, jumping, spinning, cursing, I made it to my front yard. I looked down again, only to see that three of the beasts had followed me. I jumped and spun and swatted some more – I said about a hundred “motherfuckers” before the ordeal was over. Finally, I was freed from the clutches of the yellow and black army, and I made my way inside to take some Benadryl.
That evening, with 10 swelling, aching welts all over me, I found their nest in the light of the setting sun. At the base of the tree, scarred by a flurry of axe strokes, there was a small hole. Two of their sentries stood guard over the entrance to their nest. I had returned from my defeat to take the high ground, and the elements of darkness and surprise were both on my side. I also had a brand new can of Raid Wasp Spray.
I stepped closer to the hole and said, “remember me, motherfuckers?”
Then I sprayed the shit out of that hole. I emptied the can and watched some of the yellow jackets’ futile attempts at escape. I stood over the destruction and smoked a cigarette.
I dug up the nest the next night and burned it. Then I chopped down that tree.
“who’s the man now, bitches?”