The Texas Rangers arrive at Turner Field tonight for a three-game series, and no Braves fan will ever think of the Rangers as anything but the organization that remade itself by renting Mark Teixeira to the local team for a year.
Of the five prospects the Braves sent to Texas, three are big-league Rangers today. (A fourth, Jerrod Saltalamacchia, is Boston’s No. 1 catcher.)
Teixeira arrived in August 2007, played 157 games as a Brave and was traded to the Angels in July 2008 and signed with the Yankees — doesn’t everybody? — that winter.
For the Braves, the trade was a considered mistake. They knew what they were doing; it just didn’t work. Teixeira’s presence didn’t lift them above the Phillies in either of his partial seasons here. He wasn’t terrible. He was actually pretty darn good. But one year’s rental didn’t yield the desired result, and it came at great cost. That said …
The trade didn’t bankrupt the Braves’ farm system, which has gone on to produce Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, with Julio Terehan waiting in Gwinnett. And the Braves will argue that the two key everyday players they shipped to Texas — Saltalamacchia and shortstop Elvis Andrus — were blocked in this organization. (Salty by Brian McCann, Andrus by Yunel Escobar, who was traded to Toronto last summer for Alex Gonzalez.)
Bottom line: The Rangers reached the World Series last season with Andrus as their shortstop and Neftali Feliz as their closer, but the Braves made the playoffs, too. As nice as it would be to have a lefthander like Matt Harrison in the rotation — he’ll start against the Braves on Saturday — the Braves’ problems haven’t been pitching. (There’s no question Andrus would be useful here, though. He’s 22. Gonzalez is 34.)
Neither party to the big trade has gone to seed. The Rangers are good. They lead the American League despite having lost their past five games. The Braves are good, too. They have the third-best record in the National League.
The Rangers got exactly what they wanted from the Tex deal and the Braves did not, which means the Rangers won the trade. But that doesn’t mean this was the worst deal in Atlanta annals. It wasn’t even close to being the worst. Len Barker for Brett Butler, Brook Jacoby and Rick Behenna and $150,000 — don’t forget the $150k! –will always be the worst. Always.