I've read posts--not a lot but certainly a few--since the Braves resurgence began which questioned whether Melky Cabrera cared about his performance since he'd been traded to the Braves from the Yankees. Speculations ranged from, "he thinks playing for the Braves is an insult, he's not trying," to "He's not hustling because he's not a Yankee anymore." Basically: he liked playing for the Yankees, he doesn't like playing for the Braves. Somehow Hinske avoided such speculation, despite the two of them having an almost identical year, on paper, with a slight advantage to Eric (who has a slightly higher OBP, drawing about two more walks per 100 PA, and a higher SLG with three more homers in 100 less PA.) Maybe it's a Yankees thing, or maybe it's a cultural mechanism for handling poor performance to appear flippant at stressful times in the public eye. But maybe...
...It's a player who's been frustrated by not playing up to his own perceived potential, frustrated by not putting up all-star numbers. The facts are that Melky is having as good a year as he's ever had, aside from the lack of HR production. He's right there were he's always been. It's the reason the Yankees traded him, because they want/wanted first tier-guys and the Melkman doesn't have anything more than weak second-tier stuff. I just don't happen to think that's for lack of caring or trying or even for lack of hustle. Take a look at the run to first base on a ground ball out; sometimes guys hustle, sometimes they leg it out until the ball is basically in the glove but then slow down, sometimes they just jog hoping the ball will sail into the dugout. If you want hustle every time Conrad is just about the only guy who does, but sometimes Melky gives it his all, sometimes he doesn't; everyone's guilty of it.
If you want to gauge players attitudes on the field, there aren't really stats to turn to. I looked for stats on frequency of times players loafed to first on fielded ground balls but I didn't really find anything, nor is there anything on times guys appeared to not care when popping out or committing an error. But I have watched just about every inning of every Braves game this season, including spring training, and if there's one guy who pretty consistently seems to be putting forth less than maximum effort and reacting with absolute maximum annoyance and frustration--presumably aimed at the Gods--it's not Melky Cabrera.
Yunel Escobar plays baseball like I type and drive. Fast, reckless and believing full well that his ability far exceeds reality. When I run over a curb or type Penis instead of Paris, I realize I should probably slow it down and think more about what I'm doing, but when Yunel drops an easy fly ball or boots one unnecessarily trying to barehand a ball hit to chipper, he seems irritated, but he doesn't actually do anything about it. He doesn't seem to have made any adjustments in spite of putting up a performance in the first half that clearly warrants at trip to the minors. This Braves team is full of guys adjusting. Coming off an unbearably bad run at the beginning of the season the team adjusted and more than recovered. The one part that hasn't, is Yunel Escobar, and he needs to be sent down to sort himself out at the plate and to get his head out of the clouds. It'll almost be like getting traded from the Yankees to the Braves: a reality check.