Friday, July 16, 2010

The Intangibles of the Improbable

Seeing Tim Collins traded sucks for a lot of reasons, the ongoing success of the Toronto Blue Jays being somewhere towards the bottom. Collins strikeout numbers suggest he has a future in the major league; the brightness of which is up for debate.

Tim Collins seems to be an interesting bi-product of an strange age in baseball fandom. Of all the people ruing his departure yesterday, very few (myself included) have ever seen him pitch or know much about him. His low-level strikeout numbers make him an anomaly, his tiny stature makes him a legend. It makes us root for him and hopefully his success continues as he climbs the ladder.

Everybody was bummed when Timmy 2.0 was lumped into the trade, but let's be real: he has a limited shelf life. I envision (not project or anything tangible, I just get a sense) that he'd be amazing once through the league. Some Eichhorn in '86 type shit, but then that'd be it.

But Tim Collins represented a whole lot of fun because of his (implied) ability to overcome the odds. A little guy who didn't just scrap and hustle his way into the show, a guy that got there because he is good. Those are fun stories, and eye-popping strikeout numbers move the needle and quicken the heartbeat.

Blair Leaps in Judgement

Other than bemoaning the loss of a possible one-year wonder, I haven't offered much on the Escobar/Gonzalez trade. Let me codify my feelings by taking my favorite Jays(ish) writer to task on a couple points that stuck out in his column earlier this week.
But the Braves have added a superior defensive shortstop having a blistering offensive year and playing to guarantee an option year in 2011. Gonzalez is a shortstop with postseason experience who, if he continues his offensive pace in the National League, will help address a worrying lack of offensive production out of Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, instead of exacerbating it as Escobar did.
While it is true that Alex Gonzalez is an excellent defensive shortstop who saved more than his share of outs, I wouldn't say in any way he's superior to Yunel Escobar. Superior compared to average, but Escobar is a defensive stud. Both UZR (4 runs saved this year, 4.4/150 for his career) and Dewan's +/- (a whopping 21 this year, +14 average over the last three seasons) favor the newest Blue Jay.

To me this is an example of contorting the truth to solidify your point. Yup, Alex is great in the field, but I defy you to find me anybody who thinks he's better than Esco. I don't believe you can.

The "if he continues his offensive production" line is a tricky one. Does anyone believe he will? Considering the way balls fly out to left in Toronto and die in the thick, hateful air in Atlanta, expecting Gonzo to continue mashing dingers and little else is wishful at best.

It goes on to be a classic "these three months are everything/these three months are nothing." Those who wish to paint the Jays as winners point to the track records over time, others look at the recent results and say "landslide." The truth is in the middle, if it exists at all. Like the Rolen/Glaus swap, crazy shit can happen and the pieces involved are three dimensional. Hopefully some of these moving parts fall into place in Toronto for once.

Image courtesy of Robin Thom's Flickrstream


  1. I posted the following prediction on my blog yesterday ( Second Half HR - Escobar 10, Gonzalez 3. I can't envision Gonzo keeping it up. I didn't think it was going to happen if he stayed in Toronto with no pressure and a friendly park, and I see no shot that it happens in pennant race pressure in a pitchers park...

  2. Escobar is so much fun to watch and sports is entertainment, so that alone sells this trade for me.

  3. Let it be known that hearing 'flashy defence' as a detractor to his play in Atlanta baffled me.

    Flashy defence?

    I LOVE flashy defence!


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