With Texas in the Series, we reconsider the Teixeira trade

Two of the five most important players on a big-league team are the shortstop and the closer. The Texas Rangers, gracing the World Series for the first time in their existence, have young All-Stars at both spots. They came courtesy of the Atlanta Braves.

July 31, 2007: The Braves sent five prospects to Texas for first baseman Mark Teixeira and reliever Ron Mahay. They won that night — Teixeira hadn’t yet arrived — to draw within 3 1/2 games of the Mets in the National League East. They would get no closer, finishing in third place, five games behind the division-winning Phillies.

July 29, 2008: Knowing Teixeira, who would become a free agent at season’s end, wouldn’t re-up with them, the Braves traded him to the Angels for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor-league pitcher Steve Marek. The Braves were in fourth place, 7 1/2 games out of first. Teixeira played 157 games as a Brave, hitting .295 with 134 RBIs and 37 homers. As a Brave, he spent one day — April 6, 2008 — in first place.

The first Teixeira trade has been characterized as the worst in Braves’ history, which it wasn’t — the Len Barker and J.D. Drew moves were worse — and has been credited with energizing the entire Rangers’ organization in a way one deal seldom does. And as Braves general manager Frank Wren settles back to watch the Fall Classic, does he think to himself: “Boy, we could’ve used Elvis Andrus [the All-Star shortstop] and Neftali Feliz [the All-Star closer]?”

Said Wren: “Whenever there are guys who were in your organization, you always wonder, ‘What if?’ But you have those same ‘what-if?’ thoughts before you make any trade.”

Wren did not consummate the first Teixeira trade. That was the last major transaction made by John Schuerholz, now the team president. But Wren was Schuerholz’s deputy in July 2007 — he would become GM in October of that year — and was, like most everyone around the Braves back then, in agreement that landing an All-Star first baseman who’d played at Georgia Tech was worth the cost.

Wren again: “We’ve just seen how precious getting into the postseason really is, and there’s always a thought that you’re willing to take a risk if there’s a chance of that happening.”

The first Teixeira trade did not bankrupt the Braves’ farm system. The organization has since turned out Tommy Hanson, who finished third in the 2009 rookie of the year voting, and Jason Heyward, who will probably win the 2010 award. And the two major prospects the Braves sent to Texas — Andrus and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia — played positions that seemed well stocked.

The Braves had Brian McCann catching ahead of Saltalamacchia, and they had a young shortstop named Yunel Escobar who’d just made his major-league debut. “Actually,” Wren said, “we had both [Edgar] Renteria and Escobar ahead of Andrus.”

Literally and figuratively, Saltalamacchia was the biggest name among Braves’ prospect, and more than three years later his career still hasn’t taken wing. He was the Opening Day catcher for Texas this April and drove in the winning run with a walk-off single; it was his final RBI as a Ranger. He got hurt, developed problems throwing the ball back to the pitcher, languished in the minors and was traded to Boston on (that day again) July 31.

Neftali Feliz after closing out the Yankees. (AP photo)

Neftali Feliz after closing out the Yankees. (AP photo)

As for the other parts of the package: Matt Harrison, a left-handed pitcher, was a member of the Rangers’ starting rotation the past three seasons but was demoted to the bullpen this summer and wasn’t on the Texas roster for either the Division Series or the ALCS; Beau Jones, another lefthander, hasn’t risen above Class AA.

So essentially the deal can be boiled down to Andrus and Feliz for 157 games’ worth of Teixeira. The Braves liked Andrus but thought Escobar would be the greater run-producer. Given that the Braves tired of Escobar’s moods and traded him to Toronto for the 33-year-old Alex Gonzalez in July … yes, it would have been nice to have had a younger option still in the chain.

And if Feliz had been a Brave, Wren mightn’t have spent $6.75 million on Billy Wagner, and perhaps that money could have been better spent buying another outfielder. But Wren notes: “At the time of the trade, Feliz was in Danville [meaning rookie ball].” Meaning: There was no guarantee he’d be this good.

The Braves saw an opening in July 2007 and made a move. It didn’t work, and they moved on. And for what it’s worth, the 2010 Braves did finish with a better record than did the Rangers.

244 comments Add your comment

Blog comments are retarded

October 27th, 2010
12:41 pm

Every time I saw Andrus in the playoffs, I wanted to cry, knowing how much the Braves could have used him.

Blog comments are retarded

October 27th, 2010
12:41 pm

oh, first…sweet!

Wayne

October 27th, 2010
12:44 pm

Good story, hard to tell when a player is in A ball.

Techman

October 27th, 2010
12:44 pm

While I would love to have those two players, I had no issue with the trade at the time. It was a great move to try and get into the playoffs. I just didn’t work. I don’t remember this many people having an issue with the trade at the time. Hindsight is way too easy.

Maddux

October 27th, 2010
12:46 pm

You win some, you lose some.

A switch-hitting 1B with power is worth more than a light-hitting SS and closer. So, on paper, even now the trade looks decent.

Andrus has long stretches of bad hitting, and his speed would not have helped much on a Cox team … he does not run.

The Braves have a wealth of closers, and a decent enough shortstop.

It was not a horrible trade … we got something the Braves still NEED … power at 1B.

Mark Bradley

October 27th, 2010
12:47 pm

Delayed kudos, Blog comments.

"Da Real" Damon Evans

October 27th, 2010
12:47 pm

they only succeeded because they left the braves and the cess that surrounds this club, org, and city.

fredi is here

October 27th, 2010
12:49 pm

Out of 5 players, sent, one good/average (Andrus) and one above average (Feliz), the rest dust… not the worst deal ever… you had to try to win again with Tex.

Plus, I know everyone calls the JD Drew deal bad because of Adam Wainwright, but at the time, Drew was our Tex and we wouldn’t have won the division that year for sure.

Tana

October 27th, 2010
12:49 pm

I always think of this trade and wonder what things would be like had we kept them. Andrus was at a position where we had depth at the time, and Escobar was viewed as the next longterm option there. Feliz was in Danville and still a starter at the time, so there is no promise that the Braves would have even made the switch to him being a closer.

I think had we made the playoffs that year, no one would be thinking of this now.

Fly on the Wall

October 27th, 2010
12:51 pm

Hindsight…Wren did what he thought was right at the time…who cares…let’s move on. We need a OF…let’s get one.

Dawglasville

October 27th, 2010
12:53 pm

“They say hindsight’s 20/20 and I’m nearly going blind.”

Gonna Miss Bobby but like Fredi, That's For Darn Sure

October 27th, 2010
12:54 pm

I agree with Techman. I was excited by the trade when it happened. It seemed like a chance to push the team into the playoffs that year and perhaps set us up at 1st base with a superstar for a long time to come. Unlike the Len Barker trade when I first heard about that I remember thinking, “This is a joke, right?” It was worth a shot, didn’t work out, but that sometimes happens when you go out on a limb to try to make a bold deal.

NC Dawg

October 27th, 2010
12:56 pm

Len Barker makes me cringe.

bruce mac

October 27th, 2010
12:56 pm

As far as impacting the Braves, it really is only Elvis. Feliz is no better than the 2010 Wags and Kimbrel is a stud as well. But Elvis is a lead off, base stealing, high average, defensive gem All Star. Wow, would that make the Braves a much better team or what? I find myself trying to find something to pick with Elvis’ game and I cannot find anything. He is the real deal for sure.

Ted M

October 27th, 2010
12:56 pm

I was for the trade when it happened and MT played well for the Braves. The Braves coulda shoulda done better when he was here.

Those guys do look great now but the Braves needed to take the chance.

Ted M

October 27th, 2010
12:57 pm

Texas in 6…btw.

NC Dawg

October 27th, 2010
12:57 pm

I was a kid when the Len Barker trade happened…even then, I knew that was going to be a bad trade!

dtanner

October 27th, 2010
12:58 pm

this trade was made because schuerholz was such an egomaniac,always trying to show what a genius he thought he was,

UGABugKiller

October 27th, 2010
12:58 pm

Mark is right.

Trading a 100mph throwing pitcher for a right fielder with a cash register where his heart should be is the worst single trade in Braves history, and I would put it up there in the top-5 worst of all time, next to Ruth-for-Money and the Smoltz trade.

You NEVER trade a pitcher who throws 100mph. Ever. And ESPECIALLY not for JD Drew.

GSU Eagle 91

October 27th, 2010
12:59 pm

I am still hoping to see Chipper retire, with his lifetime .306 avg intact….( See Mickey Mantle’s stats as he stayed around 1 year too many to drop below .300 for his career)
I’m thinking Carl Crawford would take the 13 Million dollars CJ would make and look really good in left field….
and back to the playoffs we go…

Craig McMurtry

October 27th, 2010
1:00 pm

Elvis hit .265 with 35 RBI’s and 32 SB’s this season. That’s good but not stellar. Feliz had a 2.73 ERA with 40 saves. Those are great numbers for a closer. With these trade deadline deals, you win some and you lose some. I like a GM who isn’t afraid to pull the trigger to better the club, as long as you don’t deplete the farm system.

Speaking of winning some, how about the Doyle Alexander deal?

UGABugKiller

October 27th, 2010
1:00 pm

BTW… that pitcher? Adam Wainwright.

GTMustang

October 27th, 2010
1:01 pm

Good post Mark.

I am with the “you win some, you lose some” crowd on this one. Trades sounded good at the time as the guys were buried in depth and/or in the minors.

It’s easy to look back for these couch managers that frequent this blog and blame the Braves organization.

Like you said, I am sure Wren is thinking about that too, but it’s really luck of the draw.

JEB

October 27th, 2010
1:01 pm

What if we had found out that JS had the opportunity to have gotten Tex for Saltalamacchia and a few prospects – AND he did NOT pull the trigger??
Then we would have heard the belly aching and complaining that “the Braves could have gotten into the playoffs in 07 – but JS didn’t have the guts to pull the trigger!”
This is the way trades work them selves out – (like a box of chocolates…)

In the scope of history – we learn, we embrace what is, we move forward.
We will never know the long term results of the influence Billy Wagner had on these young guys in our bullpen and who will be in our bullpen for a few years to come. Experience (that if we had Feliz here) they would never have gotten and will be very valuable to the Braves in the future. This story is not finished yet!

bruce mac

October 27th, 2010
1:02 pm

You are right Bug Killer, so why does MB come on his blog and suggest we trade Kimbrel for a young St Louis outfielder who hits 270. Some people!!! Write an article that criticizes past trades the day after you propose what would be the dumbest trade in Braves history.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 27th, 2010
1:05 pm

And Bradley completely misses the point by trying to point out how some of those prospects have not panned out yet. The point is that those prospects had a ton of value at the time, and if they were going to be traded, the smart move would have been to trade them for a) players who addressed the team’s problem areas and b) players who were likely to stick around for more than a year.

Andy

October 27th, 2010
1:06 pm

There is no doubt that Feliz is a great pitcher and it certainly hurt letting him go but the Braves have several talented young pitchers in the system. As far as Andrus is concerned, I consider him to be overrated. During the regular season he hit .265 with an OPS of .643 with zero homers and 35 RBI. He did steal 32 bases and score 88 runs but I don’t consider this all that impressive considering that the Rangers were one of the best offensive teams in baseball. Even Prado with the Braves scored 100 runs hitting mostly leadoff despite missing several games with injuries. His numbers are actually worse than the year before so he showed no progress from his rookie season. This deal was basically Feliz for Tex and while Feliz will probably become a great pitcher, there are plenty in the Braves system to replace him.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 27th, 2010
1:06 pm

I guess the blog monster ate my first post… anyway, the reason why the Teixeira trade was terrible then and terrible now is because at the time, the Braves’ most pressing need was not offense. Their pitching was much worse in 2007 than their offense was. If they wanted to make a blockbuster trade and gut half the farm system to do so, they should have at least tried to acquire someone who would address the team’s biggest weakness.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 27th, 2010
1:07 pm

“You NEVER trade a pitcher who throws 100mph. Ever. And ESPECIALLY not for JD Drew.”

As much as I don’t like the JD Drew trade either, I feel compelled to point out that Jose Capellan also threw 100 mph.

Andy

October 27th, 2010
1:09 pm

By the way Mark, please let this be the last word on the Tex trade. It has been over three years. No offense, but please find something else to write about. I am tired of hearing about it.

Najeh Davenpoop

October 27th, 2010
1:11 pm

Oh, and by the way, neither the JD Drew trade nor the Tex trade are the worst in Braves recent history.

The worst trade the Braves have made in the last 20 years is the Jermaine Dye trade. At least in the Drew and Tex trades, even if the Braves gave up far too much for players who stuck around for far too short a period of time, they got quality players in return. Who the hell came back here in the Dye trade? The illustrious Keith Lockhart and Michael Tucker. And that’s for a guy who has not only hit over 300 homers in his career, but would have cost very little to keep around for four or five years after that trade was consummated.

DK

October 27th, 2010
1:11 pm

Dave, It appears based on total numbers that over the years the braves organization has been much more successful in finding and developing pitching prospects than the developement of the other skill position through their farm system year in and year out. I know we have has some very good position players come up the ranks, the latest being Heyward and Freeman, yet seems like less positon players than pitchers. Is that a correct analogy? If so, is this due to the organizations focus more toward pitching or just because there are more skilled players at the pitching position to draft in the past few years?

5150 P.O.A.D

October 27th, 2010
1:12 pm

Can Texas let Nolan Ryan pitch 1 inning in the World Series? HAHAHA.

DK

October 27th, 2010
1:14 pm

Mark, sorry, the last question was for you. thanks,

reckingball

October 27th, 2010
1:17 pm

I didn’t think that the Braves would make it to the post-season, even with TexwewillShareya. But I can understand the trade.

The Len Barker trade was one of the worst trades in the history of the ATL Braves. The J.D. Drew trade was pretty bad also.

El Bravo

October 27th, 2010
1:19 pm

Up until this year not a single baseball person on his right mind would have taken Andrus over Yunel Escobar at short. As far as Felix is concerned our farm system is stocked with great arms, two of which are ready to take over the closer role next year. Had we traded a center field prospect for Texeira on the other hand would be a different story because we have been desperate for one of those since Andruw Jones was patrolling the outfield. The Texeira trade was a great move at the time but it didn’t work out as we wished. Simple as…

Nick n Nash

October 27th, 2010
1:21 pm

The JD Drew trade looks bad now, but at the time we had good pitching, and Drew actually had an All-star re-surgent season in 2004

Nick n Nash

October 27th, 2010
1:21 pm

hence why he got big bucks from the Dodgers in the off-season

Nick n Nash

October 27th, 2010
1:23 pm

As much as it hurts me to compliment the guy, Frankie Wren has done a sweet job of stocking up the Farm System after John S kinda traded most of the talent to Texas

BBrown

October 27th, 2010
1:24 pm

Hey, Mark. I was having a good day till you had to bring this trade up. Who knows, if I was the GM back then I’d probably have done it as well. However, with hindsight, we have a valuable lesson – If making such a trade, you better have some pretty darn good insider information about the guys you are trading. Otherwise, we are just throwing away the future for the hope of some present moment miracle (aka getting to first place w/ Teixeira)

Nick n Nash

October 27th, 2010
1:25 pm

And this off-season people from the Yankees POV can look at each other and say…why in the world did we trade for this bo-zo (Javier Vazquez)? Sure Melky stunk, but Dunn and Vizcaino are still Braves and have great up-side. The Yankees are only left with a 2nd round draft pick, and Boone Logan.

Something for all those Braves fans who wanted Frankies head last December.

GStateBen

October 27th, 2010
1:28 pm

The JD Drew was worse? Seriously? They gave up Adam Wainwright, Jason Marquis and Ray King. That’s basically a 1 for 1 deal.

Drew in Atlanta: .305, 31 HR, 93 RBI

You gave up 2 All-Stars in this trade. Pitching depth is never an issue in the Braves system and Wainwright was not going to move Smoltz or Hudson out of the way in 2006. Starting pitchers are a bigger gamble anyway.

reckingball

October 27th, 2010
1:30 pm

One of the trades that JS made, that I have never been able to understand, was the Jermaine Dye for Micheal Tucker deal.
What was the purpose of that trade?

Retired ML Scout

October 27th, 2010
1:31 pm

From the retrospect of judging a trade after several years and seeing how it works out everyone becomes a baseball “expert”. Bottom line, the Braves were trying to make the play-offs and packaged some unproven minor league players to get the best first basemen and one of the best run producers in baseball. Now, Andrus and Feliz have had a pretty good, but not spectacular year, and for all we know, this may be their career years. I don’t see where either player would have made a big impact for the Braves the last two years. I don’t know why Braves fans are critical of Texeira. He would have been happy to stay with the Braves but they didn’t want to pay the contract.

Hunter the Umpire

October 27th, 2010
1:36 pm

Wrong Dannon again,Buster will win the award,not Heyward!

bass stringerfish

October 27th, 2010
1:36 pm

Folks…a dinker here, a bloop there, a better fielding game and we are in the Series playing these same Rangers…I don;t think this trade “hurt” us…
And we are missing how much we have done the opposite to others..most recently the Yankers…Mike Dunn…Viscaino, etc..for (what’s his name? I’ve already forgotten…)The same scenario could be said about these players…could the Yankees have used Dunn in the playoffs? Probably. Will Viscaino prove to be the Number 1 prospect he is touted? Probably barring injury..and I have to say the ONLY thing I would have liked to see from Andrus is his speed…we need some of that. Gonzales will be fine until that SS kid we signed comes up.
And…yes for the love of the almighty PLEASE address the OF.

bass stringerfish

October 27th, 2010
1:37 pm

Well, sorry..assuming we beat the Phillies that is….

reckingball

October 27th, 2010
1:41 pm

@1:25………..”Sure Melky stunk” is an understatement. But I think that he must of have been a throw in, that the Yankee’s insisted that the Braves had to take, in the deal.
I guess that Wren didn’t comtemplate Cox giving Melky so many opportunities, to help lose all those games, that Bobby kept putting him into.

Skip C

October 27th, 2010
1:42 pm

Braves choked, Braves choked, Braves choked

Navigator

October 27th, 2010
1:42 pm

I love it when Frank Wren tries to explain away his inability to determine good talent in his own organization. What really happened when the Braves traded for Tex was they panicked, and they are paying for it now.