“Finally, you really did it! You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! God damn you all to Hell!”
Planet of the Apes
Would you trade fifteen years for three months?
That’s what the Angels may have done today when they swapped Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek to the Atlanta Braves for Mark Teixeira.
The switch-hitting Teixeira has been one of the more prolific power hitters in the major leagues during his career. He hit 43 homers in 2005 and 33 in 2006 for Texas. After hitting another 13 for Texas in 2007, he was swapped to the Braves on July 31 for a boatload of prospects.
Teixeira didn’t do the Braves much good, which should be a warning to those who think flushing the farm system for a “name” somehow guarantees a world championship. (Believe me, those people are out there. Read the fan boards.) Not his fault, but individuals don’t win championships. Teams do.
So trading Casey Kotchman, one of the best young hitters in the game, along with bullpen prospect Stephen Marek for Teixeira strikes me as giving in to all those instant gratification people who scream “Win NOW!!!” without thinking about what happens next year and beyond.
Teixeira, 28, is a free agent at season’s end. His agent is Scott Boras. Teixeira didn’t sign an extension with the Braves, his hometown team, so why should we think he’ll sign an extension with the Angels?
If the Angels had been patient, in another few months they could have signed him on the open market. If successful, they could have then traded Kotchman for whatever they could get.
Does Teixeira guarantee a world championship? Of course not. He never won one with the Rangers, and he didn’t win one with the Braves. Again, not his fault, but one player does not make a champion.
Even if the Angels do manage to sign Teixeira to an extension, all they did was acquire him for two months and the post-season. Was it worth Kotchman and Marek? Did swapping Kotchman for Teixeira somehow significantly increase the statistical probability of winning the World Series? Of course not.
The post-season is pretty much a crap shoot. Some among fandom and the press have insisted the Angels could not win the World Series without a second “big bat” to complement Vlad Guerrero, our own version of Boston’s David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Yet the Angels won their seventh in a row tonight against Boston, which is slumping in the A.L. East, and all seven were achieved without that “big bat.” In fact, Boston might not even reach the post-season.
Casey Kotchman was about as “Angel” as they come. I can’t imagine him leaving for free agency. His dad, Tom Kotchman, is the most successful manager active in the minor leagues and is revered throughout the Angels system. Casey was raised in the organization from birth. He hung out with his dad during summers in Edmonton and Boise. If anyone was raised to be an Angel, it was Casey. And he’ll be far more affordable than Teixeira for at least the next five years, maybe longer.
Should Teixeira leave, the Angels will have to acquire another 1B on the free agent market, trade for one, or hand over the position to Kendry Morales. They will have lost Kotchman for three months of Teixeira.
The Angels already had the best record in baseball. Their divisional lead was already over ten games. This trade was wholly unnecessary to reach the post-season. Does having Teixeira instead of Kotchman at first base during the playoffs make that big of a difference to justify renting him?
Color me skeptical.
But the instant gratification crowd finally got their wish. After all those years of patience and wisdom under Bill Stoneman, the Angels finally gave in and made a knee-jerk trade sacrificing the future for the present.
I wonder what they’ll say if the Angels don’t win the World Series and Teixeira leaves.