The Braves were loyal to Chuck James too long. They were loyal to Kyle Davies too long. They were certainly loyal to Jeff Francoeur way too long. But the Frank Wren regime may be redefining how long the Braves are willing to wait on their guys to produce before moving on. The Yunel Escobar trade is certainly proof of that.
Perhaps it was Yunel's lack of ability to get along with his teammates, but one half season of poor production and the Braves chose to punt. As much as this highlights how the new GM of the Braves views loyalty to his players, it also highlights the importance of removing a distraction like Yunel from a contending team.
During Spring Training this year a Braves player told me a story about a time in the minors when he had gotten hit by a pitch (which he later realized he deserved) the at-bat after he had hit a homerun in which he had flipped the bat and took his time rounding the bases. He said, "off the record, I Yunel'ed it." And this was a player whose locker was right next to Escobar's (of course he wasn't around at the time), but that told me a lot about how seriously Yunel's teammates took him.
Baseball America has a good review of the prospects we got in the trade. Here are some more reactions from around the web:
CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler has an interesting take:
[...] the Red Sox will tell you how much last year's midseason trade for Gonzalez stabilized their infield and was a huge key in carrying them to the playoffs.
The New York Daily News has some interesting insider info:
This is Bobby Cox’s last year, the Braves are serious contenders, and Escobar is not well-liked on the team because of a persistent lack of hustle. "Bobby hates Escobar," a Brave told me earlier this season. "Escobar doesn’t have a lot of friends in the clubhouse."
It's interesting, to say the least. The Braves obviously soured on Escobar. Gonzalez is playing over his head with a .497 SLG but Collins and Pastornicky are intriguing prospects. It's a deal that could help both clubs if Escobar gets his act together.
Right, IF Escobar gets his act together. Next up is Jon Heyman of SI, via a tweet:
bobby cox has to be thrilled to be rid of underachieving space cadet yunel escobar. alex gonzalez is a nice early going away gift for cox.
From a tweet by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:
I'm writing up the #Braves/#BlueJays deal for this afternoon. Nobody on this earth loves Tim Collins more than I.
From a tweet by Ken Rosenthal:
Braves REPEATEDLY and STRONGLY denied they would trade Escobar. It's that time of year, folks! Like the trade, tho. AGon elite glove
And potentially the best tweet from FauxFrankWren:
Guess Toronto missed our new stat. ESCOBAR: Emperical System of Counting Official Bat-flips And Reprimands
More trade reaction tomorrow.