• Character vs. Production

    In their blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays earlier this week, the Marlins acquired a player who has been discussed in some circles as a potential target for the Twins: Yunel Escobar.

    The 30-year-old shortstop is coming off a rather tumultuous year in Toronto, but there's no denying that he's got some legitimate talent, which has been in short supply at the shortstop position here in Minnesota.

    Interestingly, the Marlins won't be using Escobar at short; instead they'll plug in young Adeiny Hechavarria, also acquired in the deal. The plan for now is to shift Escobar over to third, but Miami is reportedly open to flipping him and his $5 million salary.

    If he's available at a reasonable price, the Twins would have to at least consider. With a .282/.353/.390 career hitting line and very solid defense, he would represent a clear upgrade at a very problematic position, and he's under team control at a reasonable price through 2015. However, acquiring him also might require the Twins to go against their long-standing philosophy of focusing on character and clubhouse chemistry. I haven't met Yunel Escobar personally so I can't say with certainty that he's a bad dude, but he has a reputation as a malcontent and it didn't help that this season he was suspended for having hateful, homophobic language painted on his face during a game.

    Perhaps the Twins should welcome an opportunity to shake up their standards. By all accounts, the teams of the last two seasons have been filled with nice guys, but nevertheless the results were lousy. Maybe it's time for this front office to start focusing solely on production and on-field value, while dealing with auxiliary issues as they come up.

    Does Escobar provide enough on-field value to make pursuing him worthwhile? That's a very fair question in light of his performance this year. But as Terry Ryan and Co. make their evaluations, I hope they won't rule him out simply because of attitude problems. It's time to start prioritizing the quality of the product on the field over the climate in the locker room.
    This article was originally published in blog: Character vs. Production started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 61 Comments
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by TK10 View Post
      Also, acquiring an avowed homophobe, in a market that just rejected adding homophobia to its state constitution, would really help the Twins acquire and keep the vital 20something demographic.
      He's not quite an "avowed homophone." Escobar claims that the message wasn't intended to be offensive and that he has no problem with gays. Whether you choose to believe him is up to you.

      Regardless of his true feelings on the matter, he's entitled to his opinion and as long as he doesn't project it or turn it into an issue again I don't see why it should have any bearing on the Twins' desire to acquire him to play baseball.

      Quote Originally Posted by rico7961 View Post
      Why wouldn't you take a chance on Escobar. At 5M a year for 2013 with Club options for 2014 and 2015 its a chance to take.
      Escobar's contract, to me, is one of the most appealing things about him. If he turns things around and proves to be a good citizen, you've got the option to bring him back at the same very reasonable price. If not, you cut ties and move on.

      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Are there any additional "attitude" incidents beyond the one linked? I can't find any. If there aren't any other incidents, how does this one translate into being a bad clubhouse guy or demonstrate a pattern to be wary of? Sign him up.
      I don't know if there have been any publicized incidents but my understanding is that attitude/clubhouse issues contributed to Atlanta getting rid of him.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Hey... I'm no different than anybody else. If given the choice I'll take the 5 extra hits... Who wouldn't?

      Where we differ is pretty simple. I'm pretty consistent in my belief that attitude question marks are a bad idea and 5 extra hits will not be enough if this guy truly has a bad attitude. No matter what TR does this off season... It's safe to assume that the Twins will not be confused with the Rangers on opening day. It doesn't mean that the Twins can't win. But the task gets harder if you bring in guys who get moody... Frustrated easy and don't battle thru things and I think the Twins will have to battle thru some things.

      I love stats... I'm going over them all the time.... But baseball teams can't be built by stats alone. There is a human element and Escobar has been run off of two teams. I don't know why... But he has despite... providing that extra hit a week.

      I don't believe that players are individuals who effect no one like they are some computer animated thing. I believe the team is a team and each individual effects the rest. That's why baseball is a team game despite having more individual match ups than any major team sport.

      As for the value of those 5 hits. Lets use Escobar for an example... .290 in 2011 and .253 in 2012... Without getting into advanced metrics... What happened? BAPIP? Was it luck? Did he face tougher pitching... It's the same player and similiar amount of data. Was it a routine dip? Or the start of a downtrend. Was it the fact that the Blue Jays were playing .500 ball in 2011 and 8 games below .500 in 2012?

      I don't have the answer but the fact that almost every individual player in baseball will swing those 5 hits from year to year tells me don't wring your hands over it.

      One last thing. This is my opinion but I'm consistent... The Twins could bring in Tulo and you'd be pouring it straight down the toilet because the pitching is that bad. If you have 5 million to spend on a SS... You'd be better off applying that 5 million to a pitcher to address the main problem directly. Tulo isn't going to overcome an ERA in the 5's...

      I realize that any new pitching acquisitions could go belly up and suck but at least you are trying to fix what is preventing the team from competing.

      And to tie a nice bow on it... If the new pitching acquired does not get the job done and the pitching still sucks in 2013... You better have a SS and a team full of players that is still willing to fight and still believes it can win regardless. Escobar has been run off two teams... Drew off of one... Neither of them are Tulo and neither can overcome our current pitching.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      The Difference between the .280 hitter and the .230 hitter is 5 hits over 100 at bats. If you consider this fact... Ladies and Gentlemen... Character ends up being the true difference that matters.
      5 hits over 100 at bats is a pretty big difference. It sounds like less when you phrase it that way, but with an extra .050 of batting average Drew Butera would have hit .248 in 2012, making him a decent every day catcher.
      Or with 5 hits less... Drew would have hit .148... It goes both ways.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      I did find reports of other eye black incidents, which show his immaturity -- not an irrational fear of homosexuals. Apparently he's written "WTF" and "No Penis" in his eye black in the past, which clearly shows an open bigotry toward women and the epicene (no penis) and quizzical happenings (WTF). I'm sure there's a phobia in there somewhere.


      <<<Sarcasm>>>

      http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/20...his-eye-black/
    1. Spawn of Mientkiewicz's Avatar
      Spawn of Mientkiewicz -
      Agree with Rico and hammer, if we could get him for one or two C or C+ prospects (guys likely not in the top 20 MN prospects), then taking a chance for the $5M he's owed in 2013 makes a lot of sense. If he turns out to disappoint on or off the field, it is a one year experiment. If he's better than expected, the club options give you multi year possibilities....makes too much sense.....
    1. TK10's Avatar
      TK10 -
      He is an avowed homophobe. We have to own our actions. He claimed he doesn't have anything against gays because the Blue Jays and his agent put a metaphorical gun to his head. Additionally, if he actually, with a straight face, says his actions weren't intended to be offensive, than he's an idiot. Is he entitled to his opinion and free speech and all that good stuff? Yes, he is. But when you spew the kind of nonsense he did, then you deserve to driven out of town on a rail.
    1. twinslover's Avatar
      twinslover -
      I personally don't care if he suffers from homophobia, hetero-phobia, agoraphobia, or arachnophobia. I think bringing him in has to be considered and if they can get him for a non-descript prospect there is very little risk.
    1. TK10's Avatar
      TK10 -
      Hey yeah, if you can get a cross burner for the right price, might as well do it.
    1. Road Grays's Avatar
      Road Grays -
      Go ahead, sign him. Then I can have a proven idiot to direct all of my frustration at next summer. Kind of like when Luke Scott or Nyjer Morgan are in town, but Escobar will be there everyday! Whee!
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Invest wisely. If a cancer is introduced to the team you may come to regret it big time.

      Twins should be able to find good character guys who can play
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      The real problem isn't homophobia or any other phobia. Plain and simple, his production is not worth $4.5 million more than Floriman or Dozier. He is not an elite player and the Twins need the extra money for pitching. The problem with most middle of the road FA signings is that they are only marginally better than players that cost substantially less, yet teams get very excited about them and end up with players making mutiple millions per year that just dont perform much better than guys making the minimum.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      The real problem isn't homophobia or any other phobia. Plain and simple, his production is not worth $4.5 million more than Floriman or Dozier. He is not an elite player and the Twins need the extra money for pitching. The problem with most middle of the road FA signings is that they are only marginally better than players that cost substantially less, yet teams get very excited about them and end up with players making mutiple millions per year that just dont perform much better than guys making the minimum.
      Escobar's career OPS is .743. As recently as 2011 he put up a .290/.363/.413 line. Were he to approach either of those numbers, that is NOT marginally better than Floriman, and most likely not marginally better than Dozier (who probably isn't in the SS conversation anymore, rightly or wrongly.)

      "Not much better" is, in the end, "better." Small differences add up, particularly in major league baseball.

      The question is not whether Escobar has been, in the past, better than anything the Twins are likely to run out at SS in 2013. If he did, he'd easily be worth $5M. The question is, will he perform at past levels.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Chemistry is not as overated as some of you seem to think. Players who only play for their own stats after a period of time wear out their welcome (read Delmon Young). Great for the first year or so with a club and out of welcome by the end of the second or third year. Players like this only tend to play hard when it is to their benefit or in a contract year. Put a team out of contention by the end of July and they dog it. Would not want Escobar at any price. He has now been in 2 or 3 major league orgainizations and has worn out his welcome in all of them. Stephen Drew has only been in 2 places and Oakland wants him back(at the right price). Twins should offer him a contract and see if he is interested(low first year plus incentives and then good options for year 2 or 3).
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      The Twins already possess an abundance of chemistry, it would be swell to balance that out with a little more talent.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by beckmt View Post
      Chemistry is not as overated as some of you seem to think. Players who only play for their own stats after a period of time wear out their welcome (read Delmon Young). Great for the first year or so with a club and out of welcome by the end of the second or third year. Players like this only tend to play hard when it is to their benefit or in a contract year. Put a team out of contention by the end of July and they dog it. Would not want Escobar at any price. He has now been in 2 or 3 major league orgainizations and has worn out his welcome in all of them. Stephen Drew has only been in 2 places and Oakland wants him back(at the right price). Twins should offer him a contract and see if he is interested(low first year plus incentives and then good options for year 2 or 3).
      I'd be fine with Drew.

      That being said, I'm not sure how Escobar having been "in 2 or 3 major league organizations (it's 3)" is evidence that he's worn out his welcome or constitutes a "chemistry" problem, while Drew coming to the Twins (which would be his third major league organization since August) isn't evidence of same.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      The real problem isn't homophobia or any other phobia. Plain and simple, his production is not worth $4.5 million more than Floriman or Dozier. He is not an elite player and the Twins need the extra money for pitching. The problem with most middle of the road FA signings is that they are only marginally better than players that cost substantially less, yet teams get very excited about them and end up with players making mutiple millions per year that just dont perform much better than guys making the minimum.
      Escobar's career OPS is .743. As recently as 2011 he put up a .290/.363/.413 line. Were he to approach either of those numbers, that is NOT marginally better than Floriman, and most likely not marginally better than Dozier (who probably isn't in the SS conversation anymore, rightly or wrongly.)

      "Not much better" is, in the end, "better." Small differences add up, particularly in major league baseball.

      The question is not whether Escobar has been, in the past, better than anything the Twins are likely to run out at SS in 2013. If he did, he'd easily be worth $5M. The question is, will he perform at past levels.
      Let me re-phrase my point: Escobar is clearly better than anything the Twins currently have. How much will depend on how much he returns to form and how much whoever the Twins throw out there improves. My point is that the extra $5 million is WAY more valuable being spend on more / better pitching than to bring in Escobar. Twins are far better off with better pitching and not having him. Now if money is no object, fine but that is clearly not the situation.
    1. SockNet's Avatar
      SockNet -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris in Osaka View Post
      Character and lockerroom issues are overrated. If he can hit, then he should be pursued.
      Agreed here. Just get something decent(regardless of issues) to stop the revolving door until you can get an equal to or better, younger, long term solution.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Some posters would advocate signing the devil himself if it meant a handfull of hits and a better arm. Character does matter.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Some posters would advocate signing Mother Teresa herself, despite it guaranteeing 100-loss seasons. Talent does matter.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Talent does matter.
      More than anything else. Winning teams tend to form "chemistry" by, you know, winning.
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