Hey Jim, Remember This One Before Before Making Your First Trade This Week
[December 5th] -- It didn't mean a thing to any of us at the time. It was just another line in the transaction column, two names that were as unknown as was their ability, traded for one another. We didn't know Jim Bowden's track record yet, so we assumed the deal made sense.
The Nationals traded minor leaguer Jerry Owens to the Chicago White Sox for Alex Escobar. Escobar had spent parts of three seasons in the major leagues and Owens had just completed his first full season at class 'A' Savannah. The trade seemed so insignificant that no one really took notice.
Escobar went into spring training fighting for a reserve spot in the outfield, but injuries ended his season before it began. Owens was assigned to 'AA' Birmingham, where he flourished. The young speedster batted .331 with 2 homers and 52 RBI's, stealing 38 bases. He had an excellent .393 on base percentage and played well in the outfield. He's ticketed to begin 2006 at the 'AAA' level.
Escobar batted .211 for the Indians in 2004 with a .309 obp before being released following the end of the 2004 season. He was signed by the White Sox who promptly traded him to Montreal/D.C. for Owens, who batted .292 with 30 stolen bases for the Sand Gnats.
Jim Bowden traded a prospect, a real prospect, for someone who had a "chance" to make the team as a reserve outfielder. These are the kind of trades that hurts a team, a trade just for the sake of making a trade. Bowden knew that the minor league system was depleted, yet he moved one of the very few prospects in the organization for a player with a career .229 batting average. With the Nationals deep in outfield personnel, there is little chance that Escobar will make the team in 2006 while Owens is being considered as Aaron Rowand's replacement in centerfield next spring.
Jim, baby, go ahead and make some trades if they help the club during the "Winter Meetings," but please, no more reserve players. That's about all the team has right now.