Tex is an Angel

July 29, 2008

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Street Reporter

Tex is an Angel

According to several blogs, including Baseball Digest Daily, Mark Teixeira is headed to the Angels, in exchange for middling 1B Casey Kotchman and minor-league pitcher Stephen Marek, with perhaps others thrown into the mix.

On the face of it, this looks like Atlanta's not following its usual tendency to hold out for full value, and not dump too much for too little. Of course, with Chipper and Tim Hudson on the DL--to say nothing of the three-way NL East race that doesn't include them--they're done for the season. But Schuerholz usually holds his cards for a bit more, rather than pulling the trigger on a lesser deal.

Plenty of people were salivating for the power-hitting, switch-hitting first baseman, and it's hard to imagine that this was the best deal Atlanta could get. Schuerholz was surely entertaining a slew of deals, but there's not a ton of value here. Kotchman is a 25-year-old with good contact skills, very good defense, and almost no power. He's not as good a contact hitter as Lyle Overbay, but that's about the ceiling I'd put on Kotch. 

This has to come as a disappointment to Braves fans, not only because it signifies a resignation of this season, but also of seasons to come. With the Braves conglomerate having also shed its TBS Braves games in favor of national coverage, there will be even more Braves fans leaving the fold. 

Is this the beginning of the end for the Braves juggernaut? Or are they retooling in the small-to-mid-market mold of Oakland, Florida, and Tampa Bay? If they are, one wonders what the point of trading for Tex last season was. One year of a rental, where they lost catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers, getting Tex along with relievers Royce Ring and Octavio Dotel. Dotel is no longer with the team, and Ring has racked up a shocking 7.71 ERA with the club this season. Not a lot of return for that passel of prospects.

If Schuerholz wants to follow the model of Oakland, et. al., he's going to have to maintain a longer view than this. As it is, Atlanta fans may look back on 2007 as the last year they were in contention, for some time to come.

The Angels, on the other hand, have a powerful bat in the middle of their lineup, and become a real force to be reckoned with in the AL. They're running away with their division, but having Tex on their team boosts their postseason chances against the Red Sox.

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  1. Just wanted to point out one mistake - you keep mentioning John Schuerholz, when Frank Wren has been the GM all season. He's the one playing all the cards.

     Second, I don't fully agree with you as far as the Lyle Overbay comparison. Kotch has struggled a bit this season with his swing, and he's been injured in the past. Yet, he still has 20-25 home run power if he can play 140-150 games. Plus, he's locked up for another 3 years, meaning we have a solid bat and a great fielder until 2011. Now, we can start to get some other pieces in place and have the money to do just that.

    Foster LanderFoster Lander on Wednesday, 30 July 2008, 14:09 PDT # |

  2. Thanks, Foster, for the correction on Schuerholz. He was GM for so long that it's hard to shift the paradigm to Wren, and I appreciate the reminder. That would also explain this move, which still seems panicky and undervalued.

    As for Kotch, I'll agree that he's a good fielder, but his best SLG so far is .484 in part time duty in 2005; since then, he managed a .467 and .448 SLG each of the past two seasons. He's got some good doubles totals, and those may project into homers, and he is only 25, but that power better manifest itself soon. That's going to be tough in a relatively pitcher-friendly home park, but he still might do it.

    Overbay may not have been the best comp, but BP lists his top four comps (by the PECOTA system) as Sean Casey, Ed Kranepool, Travis Lee, and Bruce Bochte. Casey had some good power years, but he'd shown far more of it by this age (.539 SLG at 24 and .517 at 25) plus he had a much better eye. Ed Kranepool never did much of anything in either department, though he played for quite a while, and Travis Lee never lived up to his much-hyped potential (career line .256/.337/.408). Bochte had a good eye but not much pop (only twice slugging over .400).

    Baseball-Reference compares Kotchman to Ken Harvey, Daryl Sconier and Bob Chance, none of whom lasted more than a handful of seasons. On the plus side, however, his line is similar (through age 24, last season) to three good names by their system: David Ortiz, Nick Johnson and Conor Jackson, all of whom are good people to be compared to.

    I picked Overbay because his career line (.282/.364/.447) is very reminiscent of Kotch's .274/.337/.426, though Lyle's so far demonstrated a better eye and power.

    If Kotch can reach the level of Ortiz or even Casey or Jackson, this trade will look good or even great. If he's the next Ed Kranepool, Travis Lee, Nick Johnson, or even Lyle Overbay, it won't. We'll have to wait to see which one it is.

    Thanks again for reading and for the thoughtful response--

    Street ReporterStreet Reporter on Wednesday, 30 July 2008, 15:05 PDT # |

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