I noticed something interesting — and fairly unusual for sports fans — in the two blogs I posted Monday about the Braves — the first asking you if the Braves should be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and the second being the column off the team’s current hot streak but circling around the same subject.
Many (if not most) of you commented that the Braves should not be buyers if it meant giving up more prospects in a trade. I’m guessing most fans are gun shy from past prospect-for-veteran deals that didn’t work out. I’m also guessing most of that fear stems from the Mark Teixeira trade. The deal two years ago — the last major move of the John Schuerholz regime — sent Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four other minor-leaguers (that’s how most stories presented it) to Texas for Teixeira and Ron Mahay. Some thought the deal made the team a World Series contender. Instead, they missed the playoffs both seasons Teixeira played here — he lost a lot of “clutch” points in this town — and was traded before the deadline last season.
The deal has been viewed as a colossal failure. But you know what? It’s not quite the overwhelming disaster you might think. Certainly, the key prospect in that trade is not what we would’ve thought. Here’s a rundown of the five players who went to the Rangers:
♦ Jarrod Saltalamacchia: He homered off of John Smoltz Monday night but on the whole he’s been fairly average. He’s hitting .245 this season and .256 in his career. Worst of all, he has struck out 88 times in 245 at-bats, which ranks ninth in the American League and averages out to once every 2.78 at-bats. Wait. Isn’t the Rangers’ hitting coach the celebrated Rudy Jamarillo? You mean, sometimes it’s not the hitting coach’s fault?
♦ Elvis Andrus: The rookie shortstop is hitting only .249. Given his speed (17 stolen bases), he could be a huge weapon if he improves his on-base percentage (.313). While he’s still considered to have vast potential, he has been erratic defensively with 12 errors, tied for the second most in the majors among shortstops. (In case you’re wondering, Yunel Escobar is right behind him with 11.)
♦ Neftali Feliz: This is the kid who may end up hurting the Braves’ most of all. The pitcher has a 100 mph fastball and was ranked as the No. 10 prospect coming into the season by Baseball America. Feliz has mostly started in the minors, but the Rangers recently turned him into a reliever with the expectation of calling him up soon. His earned run average as a reliever is 0.84 in eight appearances with Triple-A Oklahoma City (11 strikeouts, one walk in 10 2/3 innings). Overall this season in his first year in Triple-A, Feliz is 4-5 with a 3.41ERA and 66 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings.
♦ Matt Harrison: He’s on the disabled list for the second time this season. In 11 starts, he’s 4-5 with a 6.11 ERA. Career: 13-8, 5.76
♦ Beau Jones: Another pitcher who’s in his fifth year in the minors and mostly has bounced back and forth between Single-A and Double-A. Not listed as one of the Rangers’ top 10 prospects.
So I’m guessing right about now, you’d pass on Salty but would take back Feliz.