The Toronto Blue Jays have a dilemma on their hands involving starting shortstop Yunel Escobar, though if there is any justice in the world, he will not play another game for them in 2012 or anywhere else after that.
Escobar has created a lot of controversy for wearing eye black during a game with Spanish writing that has been translated by several different outlets, with the first being a Blue Jays fan on Twitter.
In a fair system, Escobar would be let go regardless of how he was performing on the field. Even if he was playing at a superstar level, this is completely idiotic, offensive and speaks to the kind of person he really is that he should not be allowed to represent himself, the organization or Major League Baseball.
I am a realist and understand that is not the way the world works. But it also should make things easier for the Blue Jays that Escobar is not a superstar. He is not even a quality player at this point in his career. He is hitting an anemic .251/.295/.346, though his defense has been solid.
However, Escobar has a history of being a poor player to have around the clubhouse. When he was traded to Toronto from the Atlanta Braves in 2010 when he was just 27 years old and coming off a season in 2009 when he hit .299/.377/.436, people with inside knowledge of the Braves were celebrating.
Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about how poor Escobar was as a professional baseball player on the field.
It wasn’t just that Yunel Escobar was slow to learn a second language. He was slow to learn to be a professional. How many times do you have to be told to hustle—a concept that should be universal—before it’s clear you just don’t care to do it?
But should a big-league player fail so repeatedly to perform the basic task of playing hard? The message seems to get through to Omar Infante, a Venezuelan who also uses translators.
That was just about how Escobar acted on the field. This incident is far worse than not just running out a ball hit into the gap. It is offensive on so many different levels, and the fact that his ego led him to wear it on the field makes it even worse.
There are financial implications for the Blue Jays, as Escobar is scheduled to make $5 million in 2013 with two option years for 2014 and 2015 on his current deal. But the public relations hit the franchise will take just by having him on the roster is far worse than anything they will gain by keeping him around.
Escobar is not someone who is just misunderstood. He is a player whose talent on the field is diminishing and personality off the field can have ramifications on everyone else in the organization.
To quote the end of Bradley's article after the Braves traded Escobar, "addition by subtraction, I believe it’s called."