Alex Gonzalez

For most of his career, Gonzalez has been most notable because there was another player, also named Alex Gonzalez, also a shortstop, with similar skills and limitations. It was all very confusing. When this sort of thing happened in the eighties, one of the centerfielders named Willie Wilson selflessly allowed himself to be known as “Mookie”, but neither of these guys would do us the favor. This Alex Gonzalez’s middle name is “Luis”, so that won’t work either. He is four years younger than and came up three years after the other Alex Gonzalez, who retired… uh… three years ago.

This Alex Gonzalez is Venezuelan (Viva Venezuela!) and came up with the Marlins in 1998; the next year, he took over shortstop because Edgar Renteria was allowed to make a living wage. Gonzalez hit .277 with 14 homers, and was the Marlins’ token All-Star the year after they won the World Series. However, he walked only 15 times, so his OBP was .308, a trend which would continue.

His power, however, did not, as over the next two seasons he hit only sixteen homers. In 2000, he hit only .200, and was one of the worst players in the league. In 2001, he managed to hit .250 with 30 walks, making him acceptable when his defense was taken into account. He regressed in 2002 and was hurt most of the season, but rebounded in 2003 for his best year to date. He wasn’t actually good, in that his OPS+ was just 96, and that slugging-heavy (his OBP was .313) but it was something. Unfortunately, that was a peak, and while he hit 23 homers in 2004 he only averaged .232, with a .272 OBP, and there’s really no power that will make up for that. After a bad year in 2005, the Marlins let him go. Only three players have played more games in a Marlins uniform, if that’s the sort of achievement that impresses you.

He signed with the Red Sox, where he put up a typical .255/.299/.397. (Note that he missed playing for his third world champion in his career by only one season.) Gonzalez instead signed a three-year contract with the Reds, where he had the best year of his career, hitting .272 with 16 homers and 22 doubles in just 429 plate appearances, putting up a career high in all three slash categories. Unfortunately, he fractured his knee and missed the entire 2008 season. After a rought start to 2009, he was traded after the deadline in a waiver deal to the Red Sox, where he played quite well down the stretch. He signed a one-year deal with a team option with the Blue jays, hitting 17 homers before the break, and was traded to the Braves.

It is possible that Gonzalez’s power surge is more than an illusion. When healthy the last few seasons, he has been able to hit for power. While the Blue Jays lead the AL in homers, their park has played as a slight pitchers’ park this year. It is almost more surprising that Gonzalez has played nearly every game than that he’s hit 17 homers this year. His homer rate isn’t all that much higher than what he put up in 2007, it’s the games played that’s out of context; after averaging just 94 games played over the last five years, he’s already played 85 this one.

Gonzalez has a good defensive rep, and Plus/Minus, at least, likes him this year. His range factors are also quite good. A slow runner, especially for a middle infielder, even before the knee problems. Hard to fit into many lineups because of his low OBPs, and if Bobby hits him second will cost the team a ton of runs.

The most-similar batter to Alex Gonzalez is, in fact, Alex Gonzalez.

Alex Gonzalez Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

ADDENDUM: If you missed it, I finally caved and opened a Twitter account. Follow bravesjournal on Twitter

335 thoughts on “Alex Gonzalez”

  1. That Alex S. Gonzalez is the most similar to Alex Gonzalez is hilarious. Too bad it doesn’t work the other way around.

  2. “The most-similar batter to Alex Gonzalez is, in fact, Alex Gonzalez.”

    That is fantastic.

  3. What are the chances that at least one of the “A” votes was not cast by Bethany? 0%? 0.0%?

  4. If Alex hits 8th, this isn’t bad. He’ll get pitched around occasionally, which means a guy who wouldn’t normally walk would walk. He will also have more power than your average 8-hole guy too. Of course, that means Smelky will hit 7th. Man, we need a CF…

  5. From previous thread,

    Alex,

    I think I actually ended up agreeing with most of what you said in terms of needing to get rid of Yunel. My point about clubhouse chemistry is this–good chemistry tends to be a function of winning rather than a cause. I go back to a book I read years ago by Jerry Kramer, the guard on the Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packer teams, who wrote Instant Replay and then Farewell to Football. His point was that the Packers had great cameraderie when they were winning, but when they started losing, the team chemistry started to deteriorate. Similarly, Jim Bouton talked about how the great Yankee teams of the early sixties had lots of dissension and still won and I don’t even need to mention the “Bronx Zoo” of the 1970s–the Yankees won despite their manager getting into a fight with their right fielder on TV. Then, there are the Oakland A’s of the 70s, who didn’t get along but still won three straigh World Series.

    I’m not saying that team chemistry is meaningless, but I’m not sure how any outsider can determine whether a team has it or not or how much any one player makes a difference. Look at the Mets-everyone says Jeff Francouer is a good clubhouse presence and blah, blah, blah. At the same time, he sucks as a player. Do you believe his contribution to team chemistry outweighs his horrible performance? I don’t. Sure, it’s more pleasant to work with people you like, but does that necessarily affect the team’s performance? I don’t think so unless the guy is such a distraction that the other players can’t focus on the game. You can’t expect to have 25 people sharing a clubhouse all summer and expect them all to like each other. What I do think affects performance is a bonehead like Yunel who makes stupid plays and acts unprofessionally–not because he disrupts clubhouse chemistry but because he directly hurts the performance of the team.

    If you want to say that’s part of clubhouse chemistry, fine, maybe you are right. I don’t know, and neither do you, how Yunel was really perceived by the rest of the team. But if Yunel was hitting .320 with 15 home runs, do you think the Braves would have traded him? The fact is we don’t know what affect so-called clubhouse chemistry has on team performance, but I suspect Jerry Kramer and Jim Bouton are right–winning causes team chemistry rather than vice versa. I would rather have a clubhouse full of talented players that don’t necessarily get along but that come together on the field rather than a bunch of guys that go to dinner together but can’t play. But I don’t think you can tolerate a player who spaces out during games and who seems unable to act professionally.

  6. Hilarious on the Sims Score.

    I cast one of the A votes. Again, getting anyone or anything in exchange for cutting bait on Yoko is a win. Getting a sea bass (venezulean, not chilean) and two low-minor prospects back is like landing the biggest fish of the day when you’re about to call it quits.

    I’d guess Bobby will slot him in at 7 or 8. Yoko hit 7th most of the season for Bobby.

  7. You are a major league shortstop. A sharply hit grounder by the catcher zips to your right at the edge of your range, and your immobile third baseman teammate has no shot at it. If you go for it, you could make the play, but if it bounces off your glove, you could be charged with an error.

    If you like your team, or you’re professional, you try to make the play. If you’re a malcontent, you pass.

    This could also go for things like breaking up double plays.

    I don’t think “chemistry” has a huge influence, but I can see where it could occasionally matter a little.

  8. I get the Sea Bass nickname. If you look at him with his beard, becuase he has full cheeks he does look fish like. Just saying.

  9. Rob – They’ll pitch around him in the 8-hole, but that just means he’ll swing at more bad pitches. I’d rather bat him 7th (6th on Sunday) but we’ll see.

    I like Mookie. Seems much more friendly. Maybe AGony if his OPS drops below .700.

  10. I assiduously avoid the ESPYs. It is the WorldWide Leader at their masturbatory worst.
    ———————-

    Is Heyward back tonight?

  11. Again, the Braves are already in 1st place and have the best record in the National League, right? Yunel had been a part of that and they seemed to be winning with him playing a key role as the linchpin in the field.

    Justifications of the trade rely too heavily upon clubhouse cancer fantasies. So what if Bobby doesn’t like him? Really.

    This was a classic buy low-sell high trade and the Braves got rooked.

    It may make Bobby feel better (or whatever other players feel wronged). It may make certain fans feel better. It won’t make the Braves better and since it’s supposed to be a professional team, then that’s not good.

    The Braves have turned 2009’s NL Cy Young contender and Top-3 NL shortstop (when top starting pitchers and top shortstops are perhaps the two most valuable and sought after commodities in baseball) into Melky Cabrera and Alex Gonzalez. That is freakin’ laughable! Har-har.

  12. I’ve been trying to find some good Braves podcasts, and the one I’m listening to now suggests we trade Medlen for Cory Hart.

    Now how would you rank THAT trade?

  13. I forget where I read it (Beyond the Box Score?), but the Skydome is one of the better home run parks (maybe just for RH hitters) and plays as a pitchers’ park because it suppresses singles, for whatever reason. However, it was noted that Gonzalez has hit for similar power in away games, even though about half of his homers have been close calls (“Just Enough”). Inconclusive.

    I don’t completely disregard chemistry, but I do think our current place in the NL East standings is something of an argument against the necessity of trading Yunel on those grounds. It’s not like Melky will suddenly blossom into a star without Yunel’s bad vibes making him ground to the pitcher (is it?).

  14. Hey Stu do you mind emailing me? Talked to my buddy Luke about why Johnson left, wanted to see if you heard the same

    clarkenewton at gmail dot com

  15. I’d hate to lose Medlen. Kawakami (and a prospect) for Hart? Might do that.

    Prefer more athletic outfielders, though.

  16. @20 – Fantasies? Did you go read what the players and Wren were saying about Yoko and the trade? Obviously not. While diplomatic, not one person had anything nice to say about him.

    Oh, and I suggest you go check out the Braves minor league system. Javy, Yoko and Jo-Jo have been turned into Smelky, Mookie, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Dunn, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky.

  17. Medlen for Hart would be a lousy trade. Hart’s not a bad player, but Medlen’s proved he can start or relieve in the majors. And his minor league track record indicates that he should continue to excel.

  18. @26, So? This isn’t a high school clique–at least it’s not supposed to be. It’s a professional baseball team. The players should deal.

    If the management wants to trade Yunel, fine. But they should take the time to find a better deal, shouldn’t they? Gonzalez is a garden variety, good field, no hit shortstop. You can get those for not much.

  19. Gonzalez’s 2009 splits:

    1st half: Avg .214 OBP .256 SLG .302 OPS .558 – HR 2 RBI 20 Runs 10 SB 0
    2nd half: Avg .258 OBP .299 SLG .402 OPS .701 – HR 6 RBI 21 Runs 32 SB 2

    Gonzalez’s 2010:

    1st half: Avg .259 OBP .296 SLG .497 OPS .793 – HR 17 RBI 50 Runs 47 SB 1

    When the HRs go away in ATL, there is nothing to sustain him from sub-Yunel 1st half numbers. His on-base is already much worse (Escobar’s is .334). Without as many HRs (say 6 instead of 17) you are looking at something more like .225 avg, .277 obp, .363 slg, .640 ops.

    Ruh-roh!

  20. The “chemistry” angle is derided as though bad chemistry is being used as the rightful justification for the trade. No. Chemistry did not cause the trade. The bad chemistry AND the trade are outcomes of Yunel’s cratering performance and terrible attitude.

    Causes — poor performance, terrible attitude
    Effects — bad chemistry, trade

  21. @21 – Are you sure that’s not a Brewers podcast? Medlen for Corey Hart would be a bit steep for the Braves. Although, I’d probably do the trade if we got some other pieces back like a decent prospect or two.

    Corey Hart’s intro has got to be Sunglasses at Night, right?

  22. @31 That’s awesome Mac! Thanks for sharing.

    @33 No, it’s the Atlanta Baseball Show and they are very emphatic about the whole matter. I don’t know much about Hart, but I know I wouldn’t give up Medlen for anyone other than a real stud and Hart looked terrible in the ASG.

  23. Cary, does any performance variation happen in a vacuum? Or does coaching, coachability, and work ethic have some effect on a player pulling himself out of a slump? If no, why have coaches at all? If yes, isn’t it possible that Yunel spurned any efforts to pull him out of a horrific season-long slump, and also did not show the inclination to do it himself? And wouldn’t that affect the likelihood of his returning to prior levels of production? What would YOU do with someone like that?

  24. @29 – Good lord that’s silly. Right, the players “should have to deal” with on-the-field antics and boneheadedness from a 27-year-old who has demonstrated that he won’t field unless he feels like it and hasn’t hit a HR since August 29, 2009 – that’s 366 ABs. Yeesh.

  25. @37 – Medlen and KK for Braun.

    But we’d better hurry if we’re doing anything with the Brewers. I’d hate to have the Brewers in town and have the player we’re trading for playing against us.

  26. @34 – Wags has/had that ankle thing going on, maybe they want to DL him backdated a few days?

  27. #29 – players with attitude issues while not performing may limit their trade partners. im not saying this is the case, but we’ve heard for several weeks that the Braves have been fielding offers. I doubt Wren accepted an offer that wasnt the best

  28. Well, Hart gives you righty bopper in a corner OF spot. But I’m with you, I’d rather find a way to get McCutchen.

  29. Mel Gibson and his wife didn’t have chemistry, because apparently, he wasn’t getting overblown.

    Ladies and gentlemen, good night, tips at the door…

  30. Corey Hart’s intro has got to be Sunglasses at Night, right?
    When I saw him play against Birmingham (quite a few years ago), they used a clip of Grover saying “Can anyone find my sunglasses?” every time he came to bat.

  31. AAG as an acronym also works, if all those HRs disappear.

    @49 – Me too, actually, if it’s just Medlen for Hart straight-up.

  32. Now that I’ve gone off the deep end with potty humor, let me get back on track :)

    Re: the trade

    I think we all would have preferred getting a starting outfielder and Infante just taking over at SS.

    My hope is that Wren has one more deal. I think he wanted keep strong infield depth and even if you feel Gonzo’s season will flatten out, solid defense + 17 first half homers is hard to ignore. Alex Gonzalez officially now leads the Braves in home runs. Keep that in mind.

    But with the constant injury issues for Chipper, I’m happy to have 2 Major league starting quality players in Gonzo and Infante, in case of another Chipper injry. That said, I would like tos ee Wren pull off one more trade and aquire another outfielder.

    (rumors are the Braves are interested in Cody Ross. I would hope we could do better than that?)

  33. #46

    I can speak for ‘Another Alex R’ and officially throw my support behind ‘Another Alex G’. That’s fantastic.

  34. McCutchen isn’t going anywhere. The Pirates don’t exist solely to trade premium second-year talent. They exist solely to trade premium fourth-year talent.

    @46

    That’s got my vote!

  35. re: Medlen

    No WAY do I want to see us trade Kris Medlen unless the hitter in return is a big time power hitter with a high OBP who can be plugged into the middle of our order. Medlen is young, cheap and has been terrific.

  36. Cary seems to argue that the Braves traded Escobar because “Bobby didn’t like him.” I think that’s a pretty simplistic statement. He doesn’t like his lack of professionalism. I may not put much stock in clubhouse chemistry but I do in professionalism. No matter how much talent you have, at some point you have to harness it. At some point, it does affect your performance, whether it’s this year or down the road. It’s not as if Yunel is, or is ever likely to be, Hanley Ramirez. He was a good player the last couple of years but not so great to justify overlooking his lack of professionalism. I mean, in one game, the guy missed an easy pop-up and almost got the first baseman seriously injured. And it’s not the first time he has done things like this–e.g., looking up at the press box after being given an error. No doubt the trade could come back to haunt the Braves but, as I said previously, I think you have to give Bobby some benefit of the doubt in knowing when it’s time to cut bait.

  37. @54 – Probably not, but it’s fun to think about. A guy like McCutchen batting lead-off for this team, getting Jason back, and taking Yoko/Melky out of the lineup! Man, that would be fun to watch.

  38. #56

    Wow, Marc, we normally disagree but your assessment there is dead on. Very good point about professionalism. And again, as being well reported by several Baseball writers, both at teh AJC and with ESPN and SI, it wasn’t just Cox that had major issues with Yunel. The players on the team.

    And it’s hard to justify a guy acting like Yunel, when the team has a 20 year old in Jason Heyward, who wreaks of class and professionalism. I realize Heyward is unusually mature for his age, but again, it’s quite a contrast.

    The Hanley example is a good comparison as well, Marc. Hanley has great numbers and is an NL All Star. Yunel’s hitting .238 with zero homers. The Marlins have to suffer through Hanley’s immaturity because he’s agurably their best hitter. The Braves are in first place DESPITE Yunel.

  39. RE: the chemistry thing, specifically @6:

    My point about clubhouse chemistry is this–good chemistry tends to be a function of winning rather than a cause.

    I agree with you. Chemistry almost universally follows winning, rather than winning following chemistry.

    What does it say about Yoko that even the winning couldn’t bridge the gap with this team?

  40. 52—Cody Ross is an ideal target, IMO. Like a poor (homeless?) man’s Matt Kemp. He’s right-handed and, unlike Willingham or Hart (or Diaz), can play center.

  41. No to Medlen/Hart. Minor/Hart, maybe. Not sure the upgrade to Hart is worth either considering Diaz’ return. As others have said, CF is the bigger priority.

  42. I’m worried about the power disappearing in Atlanta too. While Toronto is a pitcher-friendly park overall, it does help right-handed pull hitters hit more home runs. In general, Gonzalez has had the highest number of “just enough” home runs in baseball this year. He better keep the power, though, because otherwise he’ll be awful.

    EDIT: I really, really hope the Braves trade neither Medlen nor Minor for Hart. Hart is about to turn back into a pumpkin.

  43. Not really making a point with this, but just thought it was interesting given the ongoing discussion. Hinske, who has to count as something of a clubhouse chemistry expert at this point, per DOB:

    “Winning makes it easier to have a good clubhouse. You don’t ever really hear about having good clubhouses on losing teams, you know what I’m saying?”

  44. #63 – the power may disappear from AAG, but I dont know if we would’ve seen Yunel’s come back either. His lack of power has been an ongoing issue for about 400AB’s now.

  45. The Braves are winning despite Yunel’s piss poor clubhouse and on field performance. Again, he’s 27, not 22. There’s not a ton of hope that the attitude will get better.

    And again, that’s wonderful about your Cubs story, Mac. But when you’re a 27 yr old adult, either you’re a team playing professional, or you Yunel Escobar and now you’re shipped out of a pennant race to a losing team.

    Again, Medlen for Corey Hart is a DUMB DUMB trade. (unless Wren somehow gets back a stud pitcher).

  46. @63 – Turner Field is geared for right handed power hitters too. It’s far easier for a RH pull hitter to homer in TF than a LH hitter.

  47. #60 – thanks for the link. It confirms everything most of us thought was the reason for the trade.

    AAG, Mookie, AGony, Sea Bass, so many choices ……..

    Love it or hate it, done deal. Lets play ball.

  48. so I was screwing around Baseball-Reference at work (again), and got to comparing Corey Hart to Josh Willingham. They’re very, very similar players:

    ABs
    Hart: 2137
    Willingham: 2130

    Runs
    H: 311
    W: 311

    Hits
    H: 588
    W: 568

    Doubles
    H: 136
    W: 124

    Triples
    H: 23
    W: 13

    HRs
    H: 88
    W: 102

    RBI
    H: 325
    W: 326

    BB
    H: 157
    W: 291

    SO
    H: 440
    W: 496

    AVG
    H: 275
    W: 267

    OBP
    H: 329
    W: 369

    SLG
    H: 484
    W: 481

    OPS+
    H: 111
    W: 122
    __________________________

    Seems like they’re almost the same players, except that Willingham gets on base significantly better.

  49. Where is everybody getting all this “read what everybody is saying about Escobar – obviously he was a cancer”? Because all I can find is Bowman stating that “one veteran player” didn’t want to put up with him unless he was hitting.

  50. Also, Hart is younger and sans decrepit back. I honestly wouldn’t want to give up what it would take to get either.

  51. #77

    Uh, NO. The Braves clubhouse from Cox on down were unhappy with Yunel, and this has now been reported by multiple reporters from the AJC (like DOB), ESPN, SI and other national sources.

  52. I don’t think we should try to get an outfielder unless he is a CF that hits.

    And thats a rare commodity.

    #77 – read link at #60, should be all you want to know.

  53. @80

    Well I must be blind or stupid, because I can’t find any direct quotes other than that “one veteran player.” Everything else is just a nebulous “the clubhouse is unhappy” which could mean anything. I’m sure there are 30 MLB teams where some guys are “unhappy” with some other guys.

    @81

    For all we know, that could be the same “veteran player” as the other guy. All we know is that Bobby, and one other player didn’t like Escobar.

    I just don’t like this trade. If you have to get rid of Escobar, then get someone better than Jeff Francoeur. At least this guy won’t look so goofy at the plate while he’s hacking away, I guess.

  54. I’d like to think that Medlen is untouchable. If we are looking to trade I’d think that one of our minor league pitchers would be our offering.

    Big difference between a guy that has had some success (yes, small sample size) and a guy like Teheran or Delgado, who have built their stellar reputations feasting on A and High A hitters.

  55. @77, from Peanut’s same piece: “Wren saw this potential and also recognized the fact that many members of his team wanted him to get rid of Escobar.”

  56. But, David, the fact that Willingham is so much better at getting on base than Hart is the reason that he’s such a better hitter than Hart. Hart’s questionable plate discipline is the reason it’s so hard to believe that he’ll remain an above-average hitter after this year.

    I am FULLY on board with calling him Another Alex G.

  57. From DowneasterJC @82:

    I just don’t like this trade.

    That is, of course, your right.

    If you have to get rid of Escobar, then get someone better than Jeff Francoeur.

    But you do realize that, if Jeff Francoeur had been able to play a high-quality defensive shortstop, or even a high-quality defensive CF, he would have been a much more valuable player, right?

  58. #82 – I think:
    That we all agree that Escobar is a better player.

    That being said the down grade to AAG won’t hurt us …… this year, because as of now AAG is simply out performing Escobar.

    The Braves decided that the defensive consistency of Gonzalez and the potential that he could sustain his outlier offensive play was better than hoping that Escobar could regain his former playing form.

  59. oh, I agree Willingham is the better hitter. I was just amazed at how similar they are, except for drawing walks.

  60. @82 – Some people won’t believe the earth is round until they themselves observe the shape of the earth’s shadow on a lunar eclipse or count the different sets of starts in the sky from multiple locations on the earth’s surface.

  61. #87

    Hmmm, I’m trying to figure how a guy hitting .238 with zero home runs & prone to wild decisions on the field, being lazy, and then generally unliked by most of his teammates and manager, is a “better player” then a guy who’s hit 17 home runs – now officially the team leader in that category, having a season infinitely better and a very good defensive player who’s not a clubhouse cancer.

    Sorry, I’m just dense. Someone has to explain to me how Escobar is better. Yes, he’s younger. That’s an undeniable fact.

    At this point, I’ll just defer to all of the Baseball writers.

  62. Has anyone read the AJC blogs about this trade? I haven’t but I was wondering what intelligent discourse is going on over there.

  63. #90 Look at the career numbers. Historically Escobar is a better player. This season, I agree, not, but over a larger sample size …..

  64. #93

    …or he slept with Paris Hilton.

    #92

    But we’re talking about how truly horrible Escobar has been this season, coupled with the perpetual problem of his bad attitude having been a regular thing.

  65. If Escobar was such a valuable commodity, wouldn’t you think there would have been other offers on the table? It’s not like Yunel’s antics are not well known. Obviously, other clubs had some doubts about him as well. I’m sure Bobby’s being willing to give up on him scared teams away. The point is, it’s easy to say we should have gotten more for Yunel, but you can only get what other teams are offering.

    I don’t particularly care whether player A or player B did or did not say things about Escobar. All I needed to see was the Mets game, in conjunction with other dumb things he had done. It’s not as if Yunel’s problem was playing his music too loud. It was pretty obvious that he was in the process of playing his way out of Atlanta regardless of what the other players thought; his poor hitting made it easier for the Braves to pull the trigger.

  66. #96

    Well put again, Marc. Plus, as was discussed earlier, if he had Hanley Ramirez numbers or even 2009 Yunel numbers, the Braves would have just sucked it up and put up with it.

    When you have zero home runs and a .238 BA, you have lost your leg to stand on.

  67. @87/92 – “Is” a better player is different than “has been” a better player. And the stats are only part of the equation – Yoko wore out his welcome, period. He isn’t old enough nor productive enough now to get or deserve a longer leash than he got. No amount of arm-chair commentary is going to change the fact that the people who had to work with him got tired of wondering who would show up each day.

  68. #95 – no matter how you slice and dice it, Escobar is/has been a better player. And unless this season is a totally new level of established performance odds are he’ll be better in the future as well.

    Look, I’m ok with this trade. In Frank Wren and Braves scouting and Bobby Cox I trust. Our division and league is going to be very competitive. If the Braves thought for one minute that a lack of professionalism by Yunel Escobar was going to cost them a game or two then they made the right decision.

  69. @102,

    But they didn’t necessarily have to trade him for a shortstop. If they had been blown away by some other offer, they could have gone with Infante (obviously not an ideal solution but at least tenable)or perhaps found someone else. I suspect if someone had offered an outfield option that was better, the Braves would have taken it.

    Look, I don’t know if I would have made this trade or not. I might not have given how well the team is playing now. But, it was pretty obvious that Yunel was going to be gone at some point, whether now or after the season, especially after the Met game. And, despite his obvious talent, I can’t say that he shouldn’t have been gone. Just from a fan’s standpoint, I didn’t think he was so good–even if he was playing up to his previous level– that it was worth putting up with the incredibly stupid things he did.

  70. @103,
    I think the problem with using Infante as the everyday shortstop is what ends up being behind him. Either Brandon Hicks or Diory Hernandez ends up as the main backup for the middle infield. And remember, if Chipper were to miss time, Infante (or possibly Prado) would probably slide to 3B, rather than Brooks Conrad.

  71. @91. Isn’t finding intelligent discourse on the AJC blog about as difficult as BP stopping the oil leak?

  72. #104

    Brooks Conrad is solid, however, if Chipper goes down (and the operative phrase should ben “when Chipper goes down”) Wren has at leats positioned the Braves with 2 quality everyday players at SS and 3rd.

    But yes, I agree with Marc again (wow, twice in same day) that if Wren could have found another outfielder, he would have done that and we would have just gone with Infante.

  73. @103 – I respectfully disagree. Escobar is having a fine defensive season. The Braves couldn’t take a large downgrade in defense for any long period of time. If you trade Escobar for something else, to your point, you STILL need to get a quality defender because as much as I like him Omar isn’t the solution. So who do you trade to get that defender? If you get any old all glove guy how much more of a down grade do you take on offense. Of course I don’t know at all but the evidence suggests that the Braves needed a shortstop in return for Escobar. Evidence that everyone involved in the trade knew the Jays were trading for a better player is that 2 prospects came with AAG.

    And all I have said that this was a good trade. However its rare when a team trades a better player for a lesser one especially when they are in the middle of a pennant race.

  74. @106,
    I love me some Brooks Conrad, but let’s be realistic here. The guy is 30 years old, with 160 career major league plate appearances. And in that, he’s got a line of .221/.276/.434. His minor league numbers aren’t much better, either: .261/.344/.466. He’s perfectly fine as he’s been used this year, but no way do I want to see him starting for three weeks while Chipper’s hurt.

    Of course, if the alternative was seeing Brandon Hicks start for three weeks, I’d take Conrad. But I’d rather have a third alternative.

    Fortunately, we do have a third alternative.

    I do expect that if Gonzalez craters, we’ll see a lot of Infante at SS. I’m OK with that, as long as we have someone better than Hicks/Hernandez behind him.

  75. #108

    In agreement w/ that. And that’s why Wren made the trade he made. I’ve been plenty critical of Wren in the past. This was a good trade.

    Not only is Gonzo, at least for 2010, a signifigant upgrade at the plate and in the clubhouse, but Tim Collins appears to be a lefty reliever who could be a really good with an excellent K:BB ratio. The fact that Wren was able to secure a good lefty arm for our future pen is an additional “get”.

    I’ll criticize Wren plenty, like the Javy Vazquez deal (and it’s not so much about trading away Vazquez, it’s that Melky Cabrera sucks and everytime he plays, he takes at bats away from someone better), but not on this deal. I like the trade.

  76. @107 – You couldn’t have watched the Mets game last week and still written what you just wrote. He’s also trotted off the field with less than two outs, failed to cover assigned bases, and (although not a fielding matter) run the bases like a bonehead several times this season. Many of those things don’t show up in the stats, but the guys on the field see them.

    Also, Jo-Jo went to Toronto with Yoko, so your prospect headcount is off too.

  77. #110 I LIKE THE TRADE.

    But empirically Escobar is/has/and very probably will be a better player. And thats why this whole trade is even a debatable topic.

    JoJo Reyes counts for something?

  78. Like it or no, it’s not correct to say that Yoko is having a good year doing anything except pissing off his teammates and coaches. And it’s very debateable whether he is or will be a better player than AAG.

    Jo-Jo counts in the silly analysis of whether the “evidence” of counting heads going opposite directions supports the proposition that the men making the trades believe Yoko to be the better player.

  79. #111

    Johnny, sorry, I’m going to dispute you again.

    IS a better player, is in question:

    Yunel: .238, 0 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB, .334 OBP, .284 SLG (75 Games)

    Gonzo: .259, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 1 SB, .297 OBP, .497 SLG

    Yunel’s one edge is OBP and at .334, it’s not like that’s great. The Braves already lead the majors in OBP so having one guy at the bottom of the order with power who’s a free swinger, is not going to hurt a team that does take a lot of walks.

    Yunel was better last year. In 2010, Gonzo has been far superior in major offensive categories.

  80. And again, Johnny, where “empirically” are you seeing numbers that Escobar is better this year?

    To quote Larry King during most of his marriages, “Age is just a number”.

  81. I’m not interested in discussing the trade anymore – it’s settled so let’s move on. But Alex, I am glad we didn’t swap for Derek Jeter who is clearly worse than A Gonz. I mean his only edge is in BA/OBP.

    .274 8HR 43 RBI .340 .392 .732

    (WAR 2.7 AG to 1.1 DJ too)

  82. I think the potential upside for Yunel is obviously higher and, IN THE PAST, as Alex points out, he has been the better player. But, I cannot completely dismiss Keith Law’s suggestion that Escobar’s skill level has somehow declined and might not come back. If it does recover and if he gets his head on straight, then this will be a bad deal. But it’s not obvious that will happen; people thought Andruw Jones (admittedly older)would come back too.

  83. “Jo-Jo was a man who…”
    “Oh, Yoko…”

    I think this trade has a Beatles vibe to it. Bring on the new Summer of Love!

    Go Braves!

  84. We are more than halfway through the season and in first place. Assuming Infante plays some SS from here on out, wouldn’t a AAG/Infante outperform what 2010 Yunel had been doing up to this point? I think it would be hard to underperform 2010 Yunel, at least offensively. Add to the fact that he was generally disliked or thought of as unprofessional, throw in a couple of prospects from the Jays, and that’s a trade I think you have to make after giving it some thought.

    For the purposes of this season, I think the club really has been improved with this trade. Plus, AAG has an “affordable” option for next season if there are no better FA options available in the offseason. I think the trade will work out just fine.

    Go Braves!

  85. #111 Alex, no apology needed. You have your opinion and I have mine. Yes, I can read BR tables too. Yes, over all AAG is out performing Esco offensively, this year. Though one could argue the difference isn’t as great as you would think since OBP is the most important offensive statistic and the difference between .297 and .334 is big.

    Jeff K. I think its more than my opinion. If you read some of the links that have been provided a lot of other folks say that Esco has been and probably will be a better player than AAG. I wasn’t only doing a count of bodies to quantify my opinion but taking into account that the two prospects we recieved with AAG have some upside, especially the small pitcher. JoJo has very little upside as his peformance history screams professional minor leaguer. So the Jays sent AAG and two prospects with upside for Escobar and JoJo Reyes. If they thought so poorly of Escobar and that he was inferior to AAG why not ask the Braves for more? Why not straight up?

    Yeah, I’ll stop. you guys are right and I am wrong. Whatever.

  86. Good lord that would have sucked if Wren had traded for Jeter. A 36 YO rapidly declining SS and an extra $20M or so a year.

    @121 – I’d be shocked if Toronto didn’t ask for more, they just didn’t get it.

  87. It bugs me when people ask questions like “Who IS the better player?” and then offer evidence that more properly addresses the question, “Who WAS the better player?”

    A good first half does not a good player make. And really, AAG’s good first half is more of a good first month and typically mediocre 2+ months.

  88. Bethany, I will be seeing Inception at some point. Ebert gave it a great review and I almost always agree with his thoughts. I am going to try to fight the urge to want to clearly “understand” everything, because I think it will take multiple viewings to soak it all in.

  89. @122, your attempt to stop the use of SSS stats as predictive evidence of future performance is futile. Futile, do you hear?

  90. #120

    Johnny, as I mentioned earlier, I am not dismissing OBP in general. It’s very important. And despite the other advantages Gonzo has, Yunel is well ahead even this season, on OBP.

    But in the lineup we have, we have the best OBP in Baseball with a ton of guys who take walks. We have middling (at best) power. Now maybe the power will improve some with a healthy Heyward back in, but we need a spot ion the lineup to hit more home runs – we clearly have plenty of guys already who take walks. Gonzalez will help with the home runs/power.

  91. My attempt to start a new discussion.

    So Chipper’s closing in on quite a few big round numbers that he could hit this year if he stays on the pace he’s on now.

    Currently he has 2467 career hits with 61 this season. 33 more gets him to 2500 which would be 93rd all time.

    He currently has 488 doubles with 16 this year. 12 more would tie him with 50th place all time at 500.

    He currently has 1393 walks with 50 coming this year. He’s already 27th and 7 more isn’t going to move him up any career lists.

    He has 147 stolen bases for his career with 5 this year. Career standing isn’t relevant here just close to another round number.

    He has 1478 RBI’s with 33 this year. 1510 would be 50th all time.

    He’s scored 1491 runs with 33 coming this year. 1504 would put him 69th all time.

    Not to shabby.

  92. Lineup, AAG hitting seventh in front of Blanco:

    ATL lineup: 1. Prado, 2. Heyward rf, 3. Jones 3b, 4. McCann c, 5. Glaus 1b, 6. Hinske lf, 7. Gonzalez ss, 8. Blanco cf, 9. Jurrjens

  93. Since when is half a season enough to judge how good one player is over another? I don’t think anybody is arguing that Escobar has been better than Gonzalez this season, but you’d have to be fairly thick to think that Gonzalez over his career has been better than Gonzalez. The numbers are simply way in Escobar’s favor there.

    I guess there’s an argument to be made that the current Escobar is the “true” Escobar, but I’m not of that opinion myself.

  94. @96, if the Braves haven’t received better offers, it’s not necessarily evidence that teams don’t value Yunel. It could be because the Braves have trashed their own product for the entire first half of the season.

    Other teams may perceive a lot of value in Yunel, but they know that the Braves don’t so they low-ball and eventually rook the Braves. And so they did.

  95. @134- got a laugh out of me

    Excited to see Heyward back in the 2-hole! I love the 1-6. If Nate McClouth ever comes back and hits better than Judy Dench, I’ll really like the lineup!

  96. good news about hicks going to AAA. there was really no reason to keep him up with infante and conrad on the team. i think the fo is showcasing mike dunn. prediction: braves are going to trade melky, blanco, and dunn for a rh power bat.

  97. “[Y]ou’d have to be fairly thick to think that Gonzalez over his career has been better than Gonzalez.”

    Well, they do have similar statistics.

  98. And let’s not forget that shortstops of Gonzalez’s caliber can be acquired for very little. In fact, just last year the Red Sox (a smart front office) acquired Gonzalez after the trading deadline in a waiver deal for minor league infielder Kris Negron, a 23-year old Single A shortstop (who was batting .264 avg/.338 obp/.347 slg/.685 ops).

    Kris Negron.

  99. Cary, there are pretty big contractual differences between AAG, 2009, and AAG, 2010. Last year he was on the last year of a contract paying him $5,375,000 for the season. This year his contract is much more team-friendly, $2,750,000 with an option for, I believe, slightly less (and no buyout). The Reds just wanted to dump his salary last year; this year, at least half a dozen teams wanted him.

  100. @139 – Let’s hope their “showcasing” of Dunn works out a little better than their showcasing of Resop. If they could trade two low upside/ average players (with a very similar skillset, except Melky has a little more pop and is a switch hitter) and a lefty reliever with some potential for a good RH power bat, I would be ecstatic. Unfortunately I don’t see it happening.

  101. @144, yes, Mac. My point is that you can find an Alex Gonzalez-caliber SS for next to nothing. It doesn’t have to be THE Alex Gonzalez. Let other teams trade for TAG. Acquire AGC instead.

  102. @148 – Sheesh, now there’s another another Alex Gonzalez out there?? Mac, maybe we need to change the nickname? AAAG?

  103. Too many damn Alex Gonzalezes…so was born in Florida, and played for Toronto. The other was born in Venzuela and played in for Florida and Toronto. Interesting.

    So glad to see Heyward back in the line-up. I hope that thumb is healed for real.

  104. Quick Defense Projection for Gonzalez

    5/4/3 URZ: 5.1
    5/4/3 DPM: 5
    Tango Scouting Report Reds: 3.4
    Tango Scouting Report 4.09

    So I would say a +5 defender at SS.

    Not bad though his bat will likely be unbearable.

  105. Excited to see Heyward back in the 2-hole!

    To each his own.

    i think the fo is showcasing mike dunn. prediction: braves are going to trade melky, blanco, and dunn for a rh power bat.

    Nah, I’m with PWHjort — I think O’Flaherty is traded, either now or during the offseason, and Dunn replaces him on our staff.

  106. “melky, blanco, and dunn for a rh power bat.”

    I think we already got the kind of power bat you can trade those guys for.

  107. @75 – “I think I will stick to beer and hot dogs instead of calculators and virginity.”
    Hahaha…the debate rages on.

  108. Yeah, I’m thinking about starting a side-project band (to Troll On, Troll Boy) called, “Calculators and Virginity.”

  109. I would pay to watch a Calculators and Virginity gig.

    Would you all dress up like Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards?

  110. OVERTURE

    The curtain rises on Bob, a misunderstood Cleveland Indians fan in college at Kent State who blogs under the handle of boojiboy. He looks at his monitor, sighs dramatically, and begins to sing…

    “They tell me that
    I will do well
    Just get good grades
    And learn how to spell

    I get straight A’s
    My life is in hell!

    Cause girls like men
    I am a nerd
    Cause girls like men
    I am a nerd…”

  111. Time for the half that counts!!

    Other tracks for the Calculators and Virginity operetta could include Geek Chic and Fatal Exception Error.

  112. Weren’t we starting a Braves Journal band? I’m pretty sure I got piano on this one.

    That doesn’t really make me sound cool at all does it?

  113. Joe Simpson — “When Alex Gonzalez entered the Braves clubhouse, he got a standing ovation.”

    Simpson has been vocal in his attempts to encourage Escobar — his ebullience today is most telling….

  114. I thought he looked fine, the foul balls were all hit hard.

    JJ is leaving a lot of pitches up.

  115. Raise your hand if you had “walk” as the result of Gonzalez’s first plate appearance in the Braves Journal office pool.

  116. what a jackass Joe West is …
    the guy is on the ground writhing in pain and here comes Joe West to make an “out” signal. Jackass.

  117. So, was that one o’ them Canadian homers?

    I love the photoshopped Atlanta hat on his Gamecast pic too

  118. Uh, rehabreject. That’s Joe West doing his job. If that ball pops out Heyward’s glove, it’s not an out.

  119. Trvia question on Brewers feed: Two Braves that have won All-Star game MVP. They conceded McCann obviously. Without cheating, didn’t McGriff win it one year? I seem to remember him coming off the bench and hitting a game winning HR off Lee Smith.

  120. 246—I believe it was game-tying, with Moises Alou getting the winning RBI in extras, but I think McGriff is the right answer.

  121. it kind of has the feel of the Marte/Renteria deal doesnt it? just remember when everyone was flipping out because we traded a young stud for a washed up SS

  122. CSG, I’m having trouble reading your post. There seems to be no vitriol NOR any hyperbole in it? I don’t understand. It’s easy “FIRE – FRANK – WREN.” Get with the program.

  123. @261 (seems odd to have that many posts in the 6th inning, Go Mac!)

    Bruan has been clearing the bases in front of him.

  124. Yunel Escobar was the best defensive shortstop in baseball this year. The guy we got is only the FOURTH best defensive shortstop in baseball! Number 4 out of THIRTY! JESUS!

    What I want to know is, if we’re trading a stud like Escobar why couldn’t he get BOTH Alex Gonzalezes? Frank Wren is AN IDIOT!

  125. Prince is supposedly a vegetarian, which means he’s eating an awful lot of lettuce.

    The high comment count is mostly because I posted this early because yesterday‘s post was getting full up.

  126. Blanco has now struck out twice on low-in fastballs (not very hard ones, either). If his batting eye goes, he’s got nothing left but his defense.

  127. 271—Yep. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to have a better option for a starting center fielder.

  128. Prince is supposedly a vegetarian, which means he’s eating an awful lot of lettuce.

    I suspect he eats a lot of grains and carbs. He went vegetarian to please his wife, so he is trained to “fill up” on meat and protein. To replace that fullness, you eat carbs, carbs, carbs. He’s like the anti-Atkins guy.

  129. well Boras wants a Tex type deal for Prince. Id say thats prolly not going to happen with his attitude and his body shape/size

  130. nate is 1-4 with a SB tonight…wonder how long his rehab stint will last. Im sure Wren wants to see him quite a bit before the trade deadline

  131. I know the results haven’t been there tonight — in fact, they’re a lot like they’ve been — but Heyward’s swing looks a lot stronger, to me.

  132. What is the consensus on Heyward? Does everyone agree he looks pretty good, minus the results?

  133. Moylan got us out of JJ’s jam and then started off the inning by forcing weak grounders from 2 of their best hitters. I’d say he was worthy of some recognition.

    If you told me in February that Jonny Venters would have over 40 IP by the all star break, I’d have assumed that Wags and EOF had cataclysmic arm injuries.

  134. brandon beachy has 11 strikeouts through 4 innings in mississippi. that’s starting with a “huge shit”.

  135. I hate when I see idiots behind the screen on cell phones waving at the TV camera when a pitcher is delivering.

  136. There has been talk of moving Venters to the rotation. Why? I would like to see Venters/Kimbrell back end of the bullpen for the next 10-15 years.

    Edit: I want this because they both have HUGE SHIT!!!

  137. I havent heard of the Braves wanting Venters in the rotation. There’s no need

    JJ, Huddy, Hanson, Medlen, Minor, Lowe, KK should all be ahead of that idea. He may be the closer next season

  138. stupup,
    talk from who? havent heard that at all. it makes absolutely no sense considering the starting spots basically already established for next year.

  139. well some scouts also think that this Collins kid is a closer too

    Kimbrel/Collins/Venters….not bad

    for those who havent seen him pitch

  140. The guys have made mention of it on the telecasts several times. Venters has even commented on the possibility of it next year.

    It has been mentioned before, but I don’t see it happening.

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