The Tampa Bay Rays traded the Miami Marlins for Yunel Escobar Tuesday night, marking the first moment of the 2012 MLB Winter Meetings in which St. Louis Cardinals fans have, in unison, gone, "Oh, why didn't we do that?" Escobar is regarded as a clubhouse malcontent—he landed in Bobby Cox's doghouse multiple times, and wore some controversial eyeblack to earn a three-game suspension at the close of his Toronto Blue Jays career.
Now, after stopping in Miami as part of the Jose Reyes trade, he's off to the Rays in exchange for Derek Dietrich, an infield prospect with interesting power and some high strikeout numbers. The Cardinals could absolutely have matched that package, slim as their infield pickings are—I'd rather have Greg Garcia, for instance—but should they have?
Well, yes, probably. His non-baseball activities and inconsistent bat mean I won't lose sleep over missing the chance to root for him, but his strong performance across defensive metrics means he's probably an average shortstop even as he hit last year. The Cardinals could use a player like that, and they could afford a player like Derek Dietrich—but I don't mind that Yunel Escobar isn't the specific player.