Bye Bye A-Gonz, Hello Yunel

The newest Blue Jay Yunel Escobar

Thank you Alex Anthopoulos.  On the worst day of the sporting calendar – there is literally nothing on tonight (looking forward to SportsCentre tomorrow) – the Jays GM made some news with a pretty major trade.  Gone is Alex Gonzalez and two prospects (Tim Collins and Tyler Pastronicky).  To the Jays comes SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes. 

After letting it sink in for a few hours I came to the conclusion that I like this trade.  A lot actually.  While Reyes might not be worth a lot at this point, Yunel Escobar is thought to be one of the best young shortstops in baseball.  Though he is having an off year and there are some questions about his work ethic, there’s no denying the fact that he has a lot of potential.  He could be a star. 

Gonzalez was having a nice year for Toronto, but he was simply a stopgap SS who was not going to be around for the long haul.

My support of the trade can be summarized by two numbers: .368 and 27.

The first is Escobar’s career OBP.  Let’s face it: the Jays might hit a lot of home runs, but they are terrible at getting on base.  Their team OBP is .306 – 28th in baseball, ahead of only the Pirates and Astros.  Toronto’s top OBP this season belongs to Jose Bautista at .361.  Even though Escobar’s stats are down, his .334 OBP this year puts him in third place on the Jays, behind only Bautista and Molina.  Not bad.

The second number is his age.  At 27 Escobar is just coming into his prime.  He is six years younger than Gonzalez and should give Toronto several years of good production.  He has averaged 12 HR and 68 RBI the past two seasons, very good numbers for a shortstop.  Maybe a change of scenery is all he’ll need to snap out of his 2010 funk.

As far as the prospects the Jays gave up, Tim Collins appears to be the bigger loss with his dominating performance at AA this season.  I contacted Ottawa correspondent WCF (Willie Canate Fan), a Blue Jays minor league expert, to get his take:

I loved Tim Collins, really hurts to see him go.  But I can’t believe they got Yunel Escobar, it would have taken the whole farm system to get him last year.

 

Pastornicky was a decent SS prospect, there was an interview with the farm director or something today at battersbox (from before the trade) where they said he probably profiled better as a 2B long-term, and most likely a utility player.  He had good defensive and contact skills, but was still pretty raw, has very little power, its a longshot for him to be an impact player.  For whatever its worth, JP Ricciardi said earlier this year that the Jays didn’t really need to sign Adeiny Hechevarria because they already had their future SS in the system, Tyler Pastornicky.  JP drafted him, so it kind of makes sense.  Plus its JP.

 

Collins is tiny but he has video game numbers and a great story.  I think he’s going to be good, I’ve seen video of him pitching and he looks great, like a baby LH Lincecum.  He has a smooth delivery, he leans way back and comes right over the top so he develops all kinds of torque.  The other thing is that he hides the ball until the last possible minute, so he throws 93mph, but it probably looks like 103.  His pitching coach at AA said that its fun to watch him pitch, guys go up there sitting on the fastball and still can’t catch up to it.  And he has an insane curve as well.

 

Tough loss, but then even if he turns out to be a great reliever, he’s still a reliever and they basically traded him for one of the best young SS in baseball (albeit one having an off year).  And his size probably makes it unlikely that he has a long career.  Although it will be entertaining while it lasts.

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