The Braves trade Yunel Escobar to the Jays for Alex Gonzalez

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It’s actually a five player deal.  In addition to Escobar, the Blue Jays get pitcher Jo Jo Reyes.  Coming back to Atlanta with Gonzalez are minor leaguers Tim Collins and Tyler Pastronicky.

We’ve talked about Escobar recently. The Braves have long been sour on him, and the sense is that Bobby Cox and others in the organization don’t much care for his demeanor, effort and the cut of his gib.  He’s a talented player, and has shown great ability with his bat and his glove at times in the past, but he is prone to simply disappearing on both sides of the ball for weeks on end. 2010 has been something of a disaster for him all around: no power, no on base skills and multiple fielding lapses.

Gonzalez is currently hitting .259/.296/.497. Lots of pop there — 17 homers so far — but the OBP is (a) terrible; and (b) almost exactly in keeping with his historical standards.  The homers are flukely; he’s never hit more than 23 in a season before, and that was several years ago.  He has a reputation as a great glove man, but that was based on work he did years ago. I don’t watch him much, but from what I can tell he’s now merely an adequate shortstop. Which, to be fair, is better than Escobar is when he’s in one of his increasingly frequent funks.

I’m going to take some time to investigate the minor leaguers here, but given that the Braves’ throw-in is Jo Jo “I’m basically worthless” Reyes, I’m going to assume that Collins and Pastronicky are no great shakes. UPDATE: as noted in the comments, Tim Collins looks interesting. Awesome K/IP ratio and WHIP in 194 minor league relief innings.  Maybe there’s more to this deal from Atlanta’s perspective than meets the eye.

First impression of the deal: I think the Braves are selling low on Escobar and that he’s quite capable of putting up some great numbers at some point. It would have been nice to see him do it in a Braves uniform, but if I’ve learned anything from watching this team over the past 25 years, I’ve learned that when they lose confidence in someone, they are 100% certain to ship them out, so waiting for him to rebound was never in the cards.  Basically, the Braves have opted for likely unimpressive but nonetheless stable play of Gonzalez at shortstop over the the bi-polar stylings of Escobar.

Say what you will, but it’s a move totally in keeping with the Braves’ organizational philosophy.

Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.