Sunday, February 13, 2005

The End Of Endy As We Know It?

From the "huh?" file, the Nationals traded for Alex Escobar, former wunderkind of the New York Mets. Escobar was the key prospect the Mets sent to Cleveland for Robbie Alomar. In Cleveland, the oft-injured Escobar never lived up to the high promise his minor league numbers indicated. He'll have a chance to correct that here in DC. Escobar was released by the Indians in August of last year and had signed with the White Sox.

To acquire Escobar, the Nationals sent OFer Jerry Owens to the Chicago White Sox. Owens, a former number 2 pick, doesn't appear to be a great loss. He put up a very pedestrian line of .292/ .365/ .349 in single-A Savannah. He looks like he's from the Chavez mold: no walks, no extra-base power. Other than the waste of a draft pick, it's no great loss.

When I first read the transation, I scratched my head and tried to figure out why Bowden was trading for ANOTHER outfielder. But then, I remembered that Escobar came up as a centerfielder. Although he's been used more in rightfield the last few years, he still should have the range to play a decent center. And more importantly, he has an offensive upside--something Chavez clearly lacks. Escobar is Endy insurance. And hopefully, he's here to make sure that Endy is nailed firmly to the bench.

Escobar's minor league track record is excellent. He's torn up pitching wherever he's been. Last year, he put up a .286/ .348/ .556 line while beating the hell out of the International League for Buffalo. Even going back to his Single-A experience in 1998, he ripped the league for 27 HR, a .584 slugging percentage.

Yeah, his major league record is much more spartan (read: pathetic): .229/ .309/ .369. But, that represents only 301 AtBats, scattered over three seasons. If he can stay healthy, a pretty big if with him, because I think he goes to the same Doctor as Nick Johnson, he can put up numbers that are more in line with what he did in the minor leagues--numbers that Endy could only dream of.

If he can put it together in the spring, he's got a great shot of knocking Endy to 5th outfielder status. And, if he does that, this team's playoff chances increase dramatically. It still creates the logjam of three players for two positions with Wilkerson, Sledge and Johnson, but that problem is much more palatable to deal with with Endy pining away on the bench.

Every indication is that the team's aware of Endy's deficiencies. Hopefully, Escobar is the answer. (Although Escobar has his own set of problems: injuries and his batting eye)

On that note, this move represents Bowden at his best. He's certainly proactive and aggressive, even if we don't always agree with his solutions. He's not afraid to pull the trigger when he thinks the team is going to benefit. And he knows how to peddle in junk--because evey now and then you break open the frame and find a copy of the Declaration of Independence. I don't think that Escobar's going to be quite that valuable, but he's got a better than even chance to be better than Chavez. And for this team, that's all that matters.

--To make room for Escobar on the 40-man roster, they designated Alejandro Machado for assignment. I'd be shocked if someone picked him up. He should be able to skate smoothly to the minors. Here's what I said about him last week when they signed him.


  • Thank for the link. I had forgotten that TSN does that.

    The catch is that when I'm writing from work, the TSN pages usually aren't googleable, so I can't even look at the cache. The damn web filter really hurts my blogging ;)

    His AAA numbers aren't as impressive as I thought they were then. Of course, they're weighed down by his 2001 season, which was decent, but not special. BUT, he was only 23 in AAA AND he's torched the league every other time he's played.

    Despite the flaws, I still think he's an upgrade over Endy.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 2/13/2005 9:41 PM  

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