If it still seems like we traded every prospect we had away at the trading deadline, think again and take a look at the middle of the Braves infield. There was talk, intense talk apparently, right before the July 31st trade deadline about dealing away some prospects for Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. One of the prospects mentioned to be included in the deal was Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar.
After seeing the steady and dependable Edgar Renteria go down in just the second game after the trade deadline, the Braves had to turn to a backup to hold down the shortstop position until he was ready to return. That's when the trade the Braves didn't make became possibly as important of a non-move as the other moves the team made at the trade deadline.
Imagine the alternatives to what Yuney can do at short. We would have been forced to turn to the weak hitting Chris Woodward, or the even weaker hitting Pete Orr. We may have been forced to push the unproven Brent Lillibridge into action. Instead we were able to replace the .330s hitting Renteria with the .330s hitting Escobar.
It was rumored that our young shortstop was more untouchable than Salty at the deadline. Now we are seeing why that was the case. I wonder if we can attribute this kind of non-move to the genius of John Schuerholz. I'm sure it was tempting for our GM to try and give up whatever it may have taken to get a proven starter (often identified as our biggest need), but he didn't give in to those demands and the reward is someone who can fill the large shoes of Edgar Renteria.
One of the knocks on Escobar has been that he doesn't hit for power, but a quick glance at his stats will tell you that his .414 slugging percentage is higher than the .411 number Saltalamacchia was slugging before he was traded. That .414 is also higher than Edgar Renteria's career .408 slugging percentage. The short version is that while Edgar is an All-Star shortstop (well, he should have been), the drop-off in offensive production will be almost non-existent with Yunel Escobar up the middle. Who knows how long it will continue, but Yunel has shown the ability to adjust and learn quick at the big league level. The future is bright for Atlanta, and he will be a big part of it.
Photo by Tom Goupstate