Because teams in tight pennant races trade their starting shortstops so often. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick in the form of a FrankenTweet:
Heard today that the Braves are getting calls from
some teams looking to “bottom feed” on underachieving SS Yunel
Escobar . . . Braves are hesitant to move Escobar because he’s
only 27, is super-talented and they think he might be in for a big
second half . . . Atlanta also doesn’t have an alternative at SS.
(Omar Infante is not an everyday guy). It’s hard trading a SS in
Omar Infante is not an every day guy?! Used to be people respected All-Stars. The nerve.
Anyway, Crasnick is right about all of that. The Braves tear their hair out at Escobar, but with a fragile Chipper Jones needing Infante to caddy for him and no Rafael Belliard-style uber glove man waiting in the wings to plug in at shortstop, there’s no way they’d lose Escobar. They may cut bait on him in the offseason — again, they really don’t like the guy all that much — but they need him right now.
In other news, now would probably be a good time to torture all of my fellow Braves fans by reminding them once again that if John Schuerholz had simply held his water, not traded for Mark Teixeira and allowed the 2007 Braves to finish the season in third place like they would have anyway, Elvis Andrus would be playing shortstop right now, Neftali Feliz would probably be filling Kenshin Kawakami’s place in the rotation and Jarrod Saltalamaccia and Matt Harrison could have been traded for an outfielder or something.
But of course I’m not one to dwell on the past.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.