The Atlanta Braves had to move to the top of the list of teams that are racing towards the National League crown with their move today to bring in SS Alex Gonzalez.

The Braves traded once heralded players, SS Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes, to the Toronto Blue Jays for SS Alex Gonzalez and two minor league players.

The move is sure to bolster the middle of the lineup that has been struggling in the power department (Chipper Jones 6 HR, McCann 10 HR, Glaus 14 HR, Hinske 6 HR, and Escobar 0 HR).

Gonzalez, who has hit .259 with 17 HR and 50 RBI through the first half of the season in 328 ABs, is a major upgrade over Escobar who has struggled the first half: hitting just .238 with 0 HR and 19 RBI in 261 ABs.

One stat that jumps out, Gonzalez’s .319 average with RISP and an astounding .361 average with RISP/2 Out. While Escobar has struggled in 2010 batting .209 with RISP and a horrible .188 with RISP/2 Out.

The other players included in the deal are LHP Jo-Jo Reyes heading to Toronto and minor league LHP Tim Collins and SS Tyler Pastornicky.

Reyes, who was supposed to emerge as the Braves long-term fifth starter, struggled mightily in the major leagues going 5-15 over his short stint as a Brave.

Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen have pitched beautifully over the last year which made the decision easy for the Braves to move on from Reyes.

Will this be the only move the Braves make before the trade deadline? They might still add a power hitting outfielder to shore up the outfield.

Whatever the Braves do in the next couple of weeks, they just sent a message to the rest of the National League that they are back.

Read more MLB news on