We dodged a bullet there. Ever since July we’ve heard rumors all over the place about the Athletics kicking the tires on Yunel Escobar while he was with the Toronto Blue Jays, and most recently with the Miami Marlins. Many fans were either extremely intrigued by the idea of possibly buying low on a talented shortstop, or wanted absolutely no part of him because of his apparent character flaws. I happen to fall into the latter category, and I’m personally thrilled that Escobar will now be the Tampa Bay Rays problem.
A big part of what propelled this team to its 2012 AL West Championship was the incredible chemistry that had formed within the team, they really fed off one another and it showed. The Athletics were rumored at one point to be in hot pursuit of Hanley Ramirez, who was with the Miami Marlins at that point still, and many fans were wary of bringing him in for the same reasons as Escobar. The difference was talent, Hanley had more of it so many were willing to accept his own question marks regarding his character in exchange for the infusion of offense his presence could’ve brought.
The problem here was, Yunel Escobar is no Hanley Ramirez.
Escobar’s ceiling is somewhat limited, he can deliver some occasional pop, reach base at a decent clip, and play his position well enough. But that is simply not enough to risk disturbing the chemistry the Athletics have.
Perhaps the fact that two of the 2012 season’s primary veteran presences, Brandon Inge and Jonny Gomes are no longer with the club. Gomes is in Boston now with his fancy $10 million contract, and Inge is still recovering from his shoulder injury and is looking for his next job in the bigs. That leaves Coco Crisp as the major veteran holdover from 2012, and he simply is not the type of personality to exhibit the kind of leadership that Gomes and Inge do. That’s not to say Coco can’t be a leader, and he is an integral part of this team, but his leadership is more in the emotional vein, not policing the clubhouse.
Escobar’s presence with the Athletics could have thrown off the balance of the team, and who knows what kind of effect that could have had on the success of the 2013 Athletics.
So whether you were all for the acquisition of Yunel Escobar, either because you think so highly of his ability, or becase you don’t think he would be a negative influence on the Athletics, the point is moot now. Tampa Bay has to deal with the potential consequences of having Yunel Escobar now, he’s their problem.
I’ll leave you with this final thought, when the Atlanta Braves traded Escobar to the Toronto Blue Jays straight up for an older, pending free agent shortstop in Alex Gonzalez, there had to be more reasons than his play on the field. Gonzalez was not going to make the Braves better on the field. The Braves and their fans were surely happy to see him go, the Blue Jays fans felt the same after last month when he was shipped to Miami, and now the Marlins fans are happy to be rid of him and he never even took the field for them. There are better options out there for the Athletics, and now that Escobar is off the table we can all breathe a sigh of relief.