Teixeira trade shouldn’t stop Braves from dealing prospects

Ryan Dempster leads the National League with a 2.11 earned run average and gives the Braves the No. 1 starter they need for the pennant stretch. (AP photo)

The trade for Ryan Dempster gives the Braves the No. 1 starter they need for the pennant stretch. (AP photo)

Five years ago, in a trade that some fans now believe can only be explained by temporary insanity, John Schuerholz dealt seemingly every embraceable prospect in the Braves’ organization to Texas for Mark Teixeira. Teixeira played well (even homering in his Atlanta debut), but it didn’t matter because the Braves missed the playoffs in 2007 and were in mid-flounder again in 2008 when they traded him to the Angels for, if memory serves, a cheeseburger.

What has followed near the trade deadline seemingly every year since is some sense of fan and media panic that the Braves are going to deal “the next great thing” yet again (even if the next great thing more often than not turns to be a pile of stock options that makes wonderful kindling).

Please. Stop already.

There was nothing wrong in 2007 when Schuerholz intended to elevate his team to a title contender again, any more than there was anything wrong with what Frank Wren is considering doing now: trading assets for tomorrow (presumably pitcher Randall Delgado being one) for a significant piece today (Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster).

Yes. Schuerholz needed a better Ouija board. Teixeira wasn’t able to prevent the Braves’ decline. But there is nothing wrong with a general manager having a go-for-it mentality once in a while, particularly when a team has a chance to acquire a difference-maker like Teixeira. (Brian McCann after the trade: “We’ve got the team to win the World Series.”)

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s easy to bemoan now that shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz (then in the minors) turned into All-Stars for Texas. Nobody seems to remember that the player leaving in the deal who caused the most consternation among fans and media was catcher-first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has a career average of .242, washed out in Texas and only now in his sixth season is starting to club homers for Boston).

Did Schuerholz get burned? Of course. But the Braves needed to make a major move at that point in 2007. They need one now.

This team has been hiccuping for months — and yet, the National League East is still there for the taking. Even with all of the starting pitching problems and the fact Dan Uggla again looks like a weather vane with ears, the Braves went into Tuesday just 4½ games behind Washington in the division and a half-game behind Pittsburgh and Los Angeles in the wild card race.

This isn’t the time to wonder, “Can Ben Sheets carry us?” Brandon Beachy is out for the year. Tim Hudson has been just No. 2-starter-good (when he’s healthy). Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens have been shelled in consecutive starts. Mike Minor: Sometimes he’s almost as good as the Braves thought he would be (but usually not). As for Sheets, it’s better to rely on him as a bonus for the rotation than a go-to guy.

The Braves have reached the postseason only once in the last six seasons. They haven’t won a round of playoffs in 11 years (2001 divisional series over Houston). Their last pennant came in 1999. Exactly how long would you like them to wait before they make a bold move?

Teams don’t get a lot of windows, and there is uncertainty about the Braves next season. One reason: A lot of payroll will be coming off the books. The other: Chipper Jones won’t be here.

The Braves shouldn’t make a move to give Jones one more shot; they should make a move because we don’t know when they’ll have their next shot.

If Dempster continues to balk at coming to the Braves — and is it just me, or does prolonging the agony of being a Cub seem nonsensical? — Wren should move on. There’s Zack Greinke. There’s Matt Garza.(albeit, a step down). Josh Johnson or Cole Hamels? Nice thought but both are likely pipe dreams.

(Update: Hamels is off the market. He has agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract extension with Philadelphia.)

Whatever Wren does, he shouldn’t let a fear of dealing young pitchers stop him. Minor, Delgado or Julio Teheran — none have been as good as advertised yet. Even if one does succeed elsewhere, they’re not going to help now.

The fact that the Braves were burned in the Teixeira trade shouldn’t be viewed as some forecast that they’re going to get burned again. And playing it safe gets them nowhere.

By Jeff Schultz

239 comments Add your comment

donte080

July 24th, 2012
3:44 pm

NO hindsite is necessary….trading your entire farm system for a less than one-year rental represented by Scott Boros was insane…..

thicknixon

July 24th, 2012
3:46 pm

Agreed. Pull the trigger.

donte080

July 24th, 2012
3:46 pm

But I also agree…playing it safe will get us nowhere. Wren gave up little to get Michael Bourn last year, but he will have to let go of one of the pitching prospects to get a decent starting pitcher in return…

pat

July 24th, 2012
3:49 pm

We can’t sell off our only left handed starter for a righty. Can’t go with a 5 man right handed rotation.

But yeah, sell anyone else.

Corey

July 24th, 2012
3:49 pm

BillytheKid

July 24th, 2012
3:50 pm

tnbravesfan

July 24th, 2012
3:50 pm

Shultzy, you are exactly right! My observation though is that this team is way better offensively than that earlier team and the bullpen is way better. So it would make a lot more sense to get one or two more arms and a solid left fielder for this team because I think it truly has an opportunity to be great. Thoughts?

Shaun

July 24th, 2012
3:51 pm

I think plenty of people are fine with trading prospects. With concern to Dempster, it’s as much about Dempster as it is trading good prospects. Dempster is a 35-year-old #3 who the Braves will only get for two months (because they should only want him for two months, at his age and with his skills).

I think many are just skeptical that two months of Dempster is all that much of an upgrade over Minor, Delgado or Medlen, where it’s worth giving up much of anything.

Sweet Old Buck

July 24th, 2012
3:52 pm

Go after Greinke. Forget Dempster. We don’t want or need someone who only reluctantly would accept a trade. Let’s not get hung up his being a pro. Mental makeup affects pro and non-pro alike.

Worm

July 24th, 2012
3:53 pm

LMAO-Uggla a weather vane with ears!–That’s a classic!

Matt

July 24th, 2012
3:55 pm

Agree too. I think the team owes it to Chipper to go for it and give up ONE stud prospect pitcher for a frontline starter.

flagger

July 24th, 2012
3:55 pm

Its a good thing you are not the GM Mr. Schultz because we are constantly getting screwed in these last minute trades. Lowe,kawakami,teixeira and others. Give the young guys a little time to see if they can make it in the bigs. Don’t make panic trades!!!!!!

timthebrave

July 24th, 2012
4:02 pm

The problem with Dempster is we are buying high with him…He has never pitched this well before and he is 36 years old

Arnold

July 24th, 2012
4:02 pm

Great column Jeff !! Of course, one question might soon be, should Wren be a buyer or a SELLER with this bunch? (but thats a story for another day, as it’s still (sadly) too early to tell, or sell. On another note, if things keep going in the same direction, how about an article denoting the awful media contract Time/AOL/Turner cooked up that will last 25 years ! (But was a good deal for Time/Turner properties, eh?) The story how that occurred when the involved individuals had to have had at least some fiduciary responsibilities would be interesting, to say nothing of MLBs hands off attitude as to the tax benefit swap that resulted in our present couldcareless owners having the team (yes, a non strategic asset, us)..????

Roll Turd Roll

July 24th, 2012
4:03 pm

If my memory is correct, the only “season-saving” trade that actually worked out for the Braves was the Fred McGriff deal…I forgot who the Braves traded though. Does anyone out there remember?

Matt

July 24th, 2012
4:04 pm

Flagger, it’s a good thing you’re not a GM because you don’t know the difference between a free agent signing (Lowe, Kawakami) and a trade for prospects.

Pastor Mackdaddy

July 24th, 2012
4:04 pm

per MLB..”Dempster is holding out hope that he will eventually be traded to the Dodgers”…sounds like the man doesn’t want to play for the Braves and even if he does it’s only a rental situation, not sure this is a good thing but that’s why I’m not the GM and Frank is…

Ray

July 24th, 2012
4:04 pm

I’d do it if the team is a Ryan Dempster away from being World Series contenders but they’re not. Too many holes on the team to trade for a 35 yr old pitcher. Need better production off the bench, a power hitter, and posiibly two outfielders next year. Gotta think long term about building a team too.

Matt

July 24th, 2012
4:05 pm

I don’t blame Dempster for wanting to stay close to home – he’s earned the right and given his age, this is probably the only time in his career he’ll have this kind of control – it sounds like he just really wants to go to L.A., not that he hates the notion of coming to Atlanta.

Watcher

July 24th, 2012
4:06 pm

Sorry guys – if the hitters are not hitting, you can book Superman for 2 months of mound work and its not going to get it done.

jmor

July 24th, 2012
4:07 pm

Dempster is 35 and is in Derek Lowe territory in my view. Delgado looked great in his last start against the Nationals…He was hitting 94-96 with his fastball and getting his change up down in the zone. He is only 22 years old. It is insanity to give him up nor a 35year old pitcher with an under .500 career record. There is hardly any difference in ability now, let alone in 2 or 3 years. Plus, they will not even hav an interest in signing him to a long-term deal unless they want another Derek Lowe debacle. I think they should trade hanson before he goes to arbitration as I would take Delgado straight up now. What would you rather have nest year, Hanson for 5-6 million or Delgado for 450k?

Shaun

July 24th, 2012
4:07 pm

The Teixeira trade was fine. The Braves got 1+ year of an impact player in his prime while he wasn’t making all that much money relative to his production. With Dempster, they’d be getting 2 months of a #3 at the end of his career.

Matt

July 24th, 2012
4:09 pm

Just heard on 680 that Cubs reporter says deal is dying on vine. Move on, people. There are other pitchers out there.

JF McNamara

July 24th, 2012
4:09 pm

Why get a 35 year old pitcher? In three years, you’ll be starting two rookies again. Just go with what you have and try to get a reasonable, young starting pitching staff for the next few years. It worked in the 1990’s and appears to be working for other teams.

It’s unlikely you win the series this year because the Nationals and Dodgers are better (even if you trade) All the Braves need to do is be patient and let them develop. They’ll be good enough this year to hold you in the race and have a puncher’s chance. That’s all you’ve got with or without Dempster.

Rabiddawg

July 24th, 2012
4:09 pm

Matt, I am as big a Braves and Chipper fan as anyone, but the Braves don’t owe CJ 10 anything. They have made him a multi millionaire and paid him immensely even though he has constantly been injured and on the DL. They have allowed him to tie up a ton of our salary cap even though his skills and body have begun to fail. He is a sure fire HOF player but stop with the team owes him stuff.

JoeFan

July 24th, 2012
4:10 pm

The Braves are a wildcard team at best and Dempster, who might get 12 starts at best, isn’t going to make them NL champs let alone WS parfticipants .Braves need so much more than just a pitcher a problem they can fix by inserting Delgado or Medlen into the rotation instead of JJ. Wren needs to fix the bench and bullpen. If he does that then the Braves should stay in competition for the Wildcard. Hopefully he can use the cash freed up after this season to restructure this team the right way.

jptuba

July 24th, 2012
4:11 pm

According to Fred McGriff’s wikipedia page: On July 18, 1993, the Padres, seeking to unload their high-priced veterans, dealt McGriff to the Atlanta Braves for prospect Vince Moore, Donnie Elliott and Melvin Nieves.

skeeter

July 24th, 2012
4:12 pm

Forget Dempster. One name that hasn’t been listed is King Felix. Seattle is willing to trade players to get younger players. Just look at Ichiro trade.

Smarty

July 24th, 2012
4:14 pm

I disagree. NO WAY would I trade prospects for another #2 pitcher who is always killed in the postseason in his only one game. Walked 7 batters….His full record is barely over .500
I would go after Shields with playoff wins, World Series experience and contract control and younger. Dumpster will be a bust.

Can Of Corn

July 24th, 2012
4:15 pm

IT’S JUST TOO MUCH

Wren is giving up far too much if he’s trading Delgado for a going on 36 year old Dempster, who’s currently on a scoreless innings stretch that’s uncharacteristic for his career.

Who want’s a Doyle Alexander look alike?

Wren should use more wisdom than this.

Genevaman

July 24th, 2012
4:15 pm

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what happen to the plan of “stretching out” Medlen’s arm to prepare him for the starting rotation. He was “stretched out,” the starting rotation is in desparate need, what’s not being disclosed or reported?

Genevaman

July 24th, 2012
4:15 pm

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what happen to the plan of “stretching out” Medlen’s arm to prepare him for the starting rotation. He was “stretched out,” the starting rotation is in desparate need, what’s not being disclosed or reported?

tbyrd

July 24th, 2012
4:16 pm

If Dempster doesnt want to be a Brave….fine. Looks like a case of a veteran pitcher trying to parlay a string of impressive starts into a mega contract. Move on Braves…..don’t bring in someone who doesnt want to be here!

Skeezix

July 24th, 2012
4:16 pm

……”Dan Uggla again looks like a weather vane with ears”

Thanks Jeff! I needed the good laugh I got from reading that.

bob

July 24th, 2012
4:19 pm

I still don’t like giving up on Minor too soon. Remember Glavine was no great shakes his first couple of years. I would concentrate on a RH hitting left fielder and put Prado back at second if Uggla doesn’t break out of his slump. Also sign Bourn and Prado to long term contracts. How’s Jeff doing and would he come back to the Braves?

Skeezix

July 24th, 2012
4:20 pm

Yes, the Tex deal didn’t produce the results that we all wished for. However, overall during his tenure as GM, J.S. was brilliant.

RBI

July 24th, 2012
4:20 pm

Forget the pitchers. Find someone who will give us something for Uggs.

bob

July 24th, 2012
4:23 pm

Quit screwing with Medlin and put him in the rotation. He was pitching better than Hanson until we started messing with him in the bullpen

Hoosier Aaron

July 24th, 2012
4:23 pm

I’d like the Dempster deal ONLY if I thought he was the “final piece of the puzzle” to a chance at the World Series. We have way too many holes (you know what they are). Therefore, a Delgado for Dempster deal (in my opinion) is too much.
The Cubs are over the barrel not us….the guy is only going to approve a deal to the Dodgers first then (maybe) the Braves. Dodgers aren’t willing to pony-up so we shouldn’t either.

Sugar Bear Blanks

July 24th, 2012
4:24 pm

Wren should just sit tight….dont trade our future for a 35 year old. If the 2012 Braves as they are aren’t good enough, then they aren’t. We learned the HARD way in the TEX deal and I hope we never do that again. In fact, I’d trade anyone who is a Boras client ASAP and rid my roster of them all. I’d rather have a losing record than deal with all of that and be made a complete fool of.

chris

July 24th, 2012
4:25 pm

Im with Watcher, if we dont start hitting, it won’t matter if Superman or Batman is pitching…losing 2-1 is the same as losing 15-14. I almost feel we need to add a bat or two….yes we need to solidify pitching but is it just me – Hanson and Jurjens are MLB players who need to be called into an office and told we ‘re paying you pukes money to get lit up every night and get your #$#$# is gear?…We do need a major move and I think at the end of day it may do more for the psyche of the fans to land Dempster, Grienke or whoever we need. I have long said the worst thing you can place on a player is their “Potential” to be a star. Uh, NO ONE knows what that is- I say let’s do what we have to do NOW and keep developing those “POTENTIALS” in the minors for the years to come.

PMC

July 24th, 2012
4:25 pm

The Derrick Lowe deal should stop them from giving OLD Ryan Dempster a long term deal.

Trade prospects absofrigginlutely, but not for 36 year old pitchers.

JC Boscan III

July 24th, 2012
4:27 pm

One decent pitcher does not make us a World Series winner. Dempster’s good, but not enough. This is the most wide open NL in years, yet our current pinch-hitting stinks, Hanson is NOT a reliable #2 based on recent performances, and the bullpen is OK only if Everyday Jonny returns to form. Our lineup does not hit lefties, so our record against them stinks. We need more than Dempster (or a similar arm)……

PMC

July 24th, 2012
4:27 pm

Paying Ryan Dempster a long term deal will be a DISASTER.

Jim Mora Jr.

July 24th, 2012
4:27 pm

What about Dan Kolb? Is he still available?

VinceVanGo

July 24th, 2012
4:28 pm

Since Dempster has apparently balked at coming to the Braves I hope Wren takes the initiative and tells the Cubs to forget it. They don’t need someone who doesn’t want to be part of a pennant race. What good would that do in the clubhouse? Trade for a good right handed bench bat, a couple of bullpen pitchers, and put Kris Medlen in the starting rotation with Hudson, Sheets, Hanson, & Minor. If one of those 5 struggle plug Delgado in their place. Send Jurrgens down or stick him in the bullpen and make him pitch his way back into a starters role.

DawgDad

July 24th, 2012
4:29 pm

Braves are not one or two players away, unless somehow those players would be Verlander and McCutcheon. They have dead-weight veterans who need to be moved while they still have SOME value, and they have a good core of very young players to build around. It will be a big mistake if they sell the future short for 35+ year old veterans and rental players.

Again, I would trade Delgado for Greinke. Not Dempster.

don

July 24th, 2012
4:30 pm

Schultz would make a great press secretary for the captain of the Titanic. Or, possibly, in another life, he was spokesman for Gen. Custer after Little Big Horn.

His ridiculous spin on behalf of the Teixeira trade borders on lunacy. Of course, as I remember, he was one of the gophers who trumpeted the trade when it was made. I criticized the trade prior to it being made (much to the chagrin of other posters) and I criticize it at every opportunity since it was made. I was right. Absolutely right. Schuerholz, Schultz, and the legions of lemmings were wrong. Dead wrong.

Anyone who really followed the Braves, including their farm system, should have known what would result. And, indeed it did result. Andrus, Feliz, and Harrison are already all-stars. Andrus is clearly the best young shortstop in baseball. Saltalamacchia leads all catchers in the ML, even McCann, in homeruns and appears to be coming of age with the RedSox. Apparently, Schultz isn’t impressed by that but most are- particularly those in Boston.

“Big Tex” led the Braves to an early trip home at the end of the regular season. Nothing else. Of course, Schultz and the lemmings entertained the idea that Teixeira would take a “hometown discount” and sign with the Braves. The problem was that Atlanta was not his hometown and he fled to the big money in New York.

The Braves, particularly Wren and Schuerholz, need to be reminded of the boneheaded trade over and over. They need to be reminded that they played a large role in producing a champion with a great future. Of course, the champion and great future is in Texas and not in Atlanta.

So, don’t tell me that the Teixeira trade should be forgotten. It should never be forgotten. It needs to be used continually as a deterrent against another stupid move by the incompetent management of the Braves. Also, it is important for accomplices to stupidity, particularly sportswriters, to be reminded of the main reason Texas is there and Atlanta isn’t.

So, Mr. Schultz, your request to end the Teixeira reminders is denied.

MJinATL

July 24th, 2012
4:32 pm

If ol’ Teddy was still owning the Braves then Tex would still be here.

enrique

July 24th, 2012
4:36 pm

Keep Delgado, the kid is going to be good he is only 22 years old. Remember Glavine in 89 and then what happened?? The Braves need a 2nd Baseman or SS that can hit.