I won’t say that it probably wouldn’t have happened anyway, but when the Braves made that deal with Texas for Mark Teixiera in ’07, it was as if they had paved another road to the Hall of Fame. And this is not one that can be laid at the feet of Frank Wren, though when Frank traded Tex to the Angels all he got was a pleasant man who plays first base nicely and a minor league pitcher.
What the Braves’ deal with Texas did was awaken baseball’s consciousness to the *8th Wonder of the World.” Not that Tex had been slumbering in anonymity in Texas, but hardly anyone pays any attention to the Rangers. Remember, this is where the Yankees located A-Rod and broke a monetary record, and it still stands. Moral to that story: Go to Texas—get rich without striking oil!
Teixeira had been a safe investment for the Rangers. About a 280 hitter with an increasing number of home runs, playing third base—his position at Georgia Tech—and first interchangeably. But really, nobody was paying a lot of attention. One All-Star game, that’s all.
Oh, the Braves didn’t get him for cheap. They packaged five prospects in the trade, including a catcher with star potential and a pitcher who became the Rangers’ leading lefthander. Those would be Jarrod Saltolamacchia, the catcher, and Matt Harrison, the pitcher, and a shortstop, Elvis Andrus, who had a good season in Triple-A. True, the Braves didn’t need Salty, but down the road a rookie lefthander who wins nine games in half a season could be a worthy property. Well, look at Tex now, big time feature spread in Sports Illustrated, in which his agent, the high-powered Scott Boras, says “well-groomed, polished, savvy, not a hair out of place……the ideal client.”
I don’t know that you can blame Schuerholz for taking his fling at Teixeira—the name is Portuguese, by the way—but it’s risky stuff, dealing off bright prospects for a player you know you’re not going to be able to keep. The Braves got what amounted to one full season out of Teixeira, spread over two. Then they traded him to the Angels for Casey Kotchman, a first baseman, and Steve Marek, who was 3-and-7 in the minors, but with a good ERA. Nowhere, no how, though, could anyone have imagined Teixeira crashing the market for $180 million. The Angels and the Red Sox got the message early and checked out of contention. Still, since the Yankees had already invested $161 million in C.C. Sabbathia and, $82 million in A.J. Burnett, who could have even imagined them getting in the bidding for Teixeira? All told, they’re up to $423 million for three players, and have just been sacked by the league for $26 million penalty for their extravagance in ’08. They have to have somebody to fill those seats in their new billion-dollar stadium, so you know who’ll be footing the bill. Oh, there was some geographical “logic” applied to the deal by some knucklehead genius. “New York is closer to his family in Baltimore,” it was suggested.
Brilliant! Now go have another glass of Guinness.