Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Braves Should've Taken The Diamondbacks Deal For Teixeira

  • Braves trade Mark Teixeira to Angels for Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek:
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It's hard to criticize an aging, fading, injury-riddled team for getting some good return on a player that they weren't going to have past this season anyway, but if the choice for the Braves was between the deals offered by the Diamondbacks and the Angels, then they picked the wrong one.
The rumored Diamondbacks deal----Chad Tracy and Micah Owings for Mark Teixeira----is superior to what they got from the Angels in Casey Kotchman and minor league RHP Stephen Marek. Tracy has had injuries over the past two seasons that have curtailed his production, but he's been healthy since being activated in late May and his production should return to what he showed in 2005 and 2006 in which he hit 20+ homers and had solid batting averages and on base
percentages; he can also play first and third base and the outfield. Owings has been terrible since his 4-0 start, but at the very least, he can be a middle-to-back of the rotation innings-eater assuming he's healthy. After his start on Monday in which he got pounded by the offensively-challenged Padres, Owings was sent to Triple A.

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I'm admittedly not a fan of Kotchman. He doesn't have enough power for a first baseman or a player of his size (6'3", 215) and he's moving from one pitcher's park in Angels Stadium to another one in Turner Field. Eventually he'll perhaps develop into a consistent 20 homer guy or thereabouts. Minor league pitcher Marek is going to be 25 next month and was moved to the bullpen in Double A; his control has been good enough and he racks up the strikeouts. Keith Law writes on ESPN that Marek has a "bad body" and a delivery that isn't smooth. Unless Owings is hurt, the assessment of Marek and that he's still in Double A at age 25 as he's making the transition to the bullpen makes the decision to choose the Angels deal all the worse for Braves GM Frank Wren.
Teixeira fills a massive void in the Angels lineup and makes them genuine championship contenders instead of a team that wins their division then runs into the Red Sox in the playoffs and loses because of their lack of power. As good a player as Torii Hunter is, he wasn't the sufficient lineup bodyguard for Vladimir Guerrero that Teixeira is. The ballparks are similar enough that Teixeira's production for the Angels should be close to or better than it was with the Braves; he's a Gold Glove first baseman which also fits into the pitching and defense philosophy that permeates the Angels organization. It's not going to hurt that he's entering a situation where the team has needed a basher for years and he's well-suited to be the missing piece to lead them to a championship; this should also appeal to Teixeira's desire to get paid after the season when he enters free agency.
Considering Teixeira's free agent status after the season is a major factor as well.
Teixeira's agent is Scott Boras and there's never been any pretense with the player regarding
where he wants to play and whether or not he'd be willing to take a "hometown discount" to go anywhere. He wants his money and in an era where the players who feel the same way are using a public relations spiel to justify where they end up (it's usually with the team that offers the most money), Teixeira has never implied any intention of signing with a team that doesn't offer him the best deal and that's refreshing.

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The problem he's going to have is that there are only a very limited number of teams that have the ability to pay him what he's going to want; and even fewer teams that are willing to pay him the money he's going to want. Jayson Stark is reporting on that Boras's initial demand is going to be for an ARod-like (of 2000 anyway) $230 million over ten years. The teams that could meet the asking price are as follows: the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, White Sox, Tigers, Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers. Going one-by-one, how many would be willing to meet that asking price?
The Yankees are a possibility considering the money that's coming off the books after this season, but it's hightly unlikely if Brian Cashman is still the team's GM. In looking at the way the team has functioned since Hank Steinbrenner took over, Cashman has had his judgment usurped several times in the off-season, specifically with Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada and it looks like Cashman was right about not committing four years to Posada. Other than that, despite Hank's bluster, he hasn't really interfered with the running of the team; there was the move of Joba Chamberlain to the starting rotation, but they were going to do that with or without Hank demanding it. If Cashman is still the Yankees GM, he won't want to have another $200 million player especially as he's trying to pare down salary.

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The Red Sox aren't going to go that high either, but they're a workable option if they do finally move on from Manny Ramirez; Kevin Youkilis could play left field just as adequately as Manny does. Teixeira's from Maryland, but as said before, he's not giving the Orioles a discount and baseball boss Andy MacPhail seems to break out in hives at the mere suggestion of committing so much money to one player; plus the Orioles are about three years from contention, so what do they need Teixeira for?
The Tigers have some money coming off the books and a spot open at first base since they've moved Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen all over the chess board this season, they could move him to the outfield next year; they're a possibility. The White Sox aren't going to go as high as Boras wants, but if they can unload Paul Konerko and decline Jim Thome's option, they've got the holes and the money available if the price comes down. The Angels aren't going to meet Boras's asking price either and whether or not Teixeira likes playing in Anaheim won't enter into the equation (he liked Atlanta as well), but he might end up staying there. Forget the Rangers and if the Mariners are starting a rebuilding project, they don't need Teixeira. The Mets are starting to look likely to pick up Carlos Delgado's contract option and aren't paying an outsider $200 million to anger David Wright and Jose Reyes; they also just gave Johan Santana $137 million and the vault for those massive long-term deals is closing for the Mets. The Phillies and Cubs don't need him; and the Dodgers aren't going to pay another player that amount of money after the Andruw Jones disaster.
Teixeira's problem with seeking such a monster contract isn't only the limited number of teams that can pay it, but that some of those teams might pull themselves out of the bidding because they already have a first baseman or they might look at how the Braves didn't contend with Teixeira, so why would he be worth that kind of money to begin with? Winning a title will only help his cause though and for a team like the Angels, he's exactly what they needed to protect their big hitter and supplement that great pitching staff by adding a proven run producer and they didn't give up all that much to get him.

  • A quote from The Sopranos that fits the Jarrod Washburn situation:
Buster Olney linked a Seattle writer, Larry LaRue, who suggests that the Mariners shouldn't give away a pitcher like Washburn who's, "a potential No. 3 or No. 4 starter next year". This assertion reminded me of the next-to-last episode of The Sopranos as the Lupertazzi crew plots the assassination of the Sopranos family's upper managment team:

Butch DeConcici: Tony Soprano, obviously. Plus Silvio Dante, and we think, Bobby
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Ray Ray: That mortadell's number three? He used to be Junior Soprano's driver.

I couldn't help but think of this quote at the mere suggestion that Jarrod Washburn would be a number three starter considering his performance (the last two months notwithstanding) over his time with the Mariners. If they think he's going to be a number three starter for any team other than one that's going to win a max of 73 games, they're kidding themselves; if someone offers to take the contract, the Mariners should jump at the chance no matter what's coming back.

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