Tex for Kotchman and Marek

When I heard that the Braves had traded Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek my first thought was, “that sounds about right.” And, upon further reflection, I still think that. Teixeira is an excellent player—no matter what DOB says—but he’s only controlled by his team through the end of the season. Teams just aren’t going to give up a lot for a near-term upgrade.

Kotchman looks to be a decent but frustrating player. In fact, this season looks quite similar to Jeff Francoeur‘s 2007. And fortunately for the Braves, a good season for Jeffy is a down season for Kotchman. Kotchman really doesn’t have the bat to be a good first basemen, but he’ll do. Could he develop into something more? Possibly, but I doubt it. He’s better than any other internal options that the Braves have. Please, don’t mention Freddie Freeman or Jason Heyward; they’re in low-A ball. And while we’re on the subjects of prospect hype, Jordan Schafer is stinking up the joint in Mississippi.

Marek is on the path to being a major-league reliever. His stats are good, but relievers are difficult to judge. I think he’ll be useful, and he has a chance to have a few good years in him.

In summary, I think Frank Wren got about all he could in the deal. First base is taken care of for a few years, but you won’t feel bad moving him if something better comes along. Also, you get some potential cheap relief help, which is always nice to have. I expect that the Braves will sign a free agent or two in the offseason. If Tim Hudson needs UCL replacement, then the Braves will have to go after a good starting pitcher if they want to compete next year.

Think of Mark Teixeira’s year with the Braves as a Whitman’s Sampler of chocolates. Though it’s good, the Braves ate most of it. A sour quince log and a dark chocolate rum cherry just isn’t going to get you much.

10 Responses “Tex for Kotchman and Marek”

  1. Rick says:

    I’ll take the deal. I would have rather had Conor Jackson, who wouldn’t, but according to all reports the D-Backs were not going to part with him. I’m surprised that Wren was able to get 2 players for Teixeira in this market.

  2. Jason S. says:

    I like the deal more than you, JC.  Kotchman does appear to be a guy who might top out at 20 homers a season, if even that, but they say he’s great defensively and he’s hard to strike out.  The fact that his walk totals are crazily low for this season must surely have been a bonus for the Braves :-)
    Sorry, I couldn’t resist saying that.   Anyway, Kotchman is a significant upgrade over the last 2 clowns the Braves tried (Wilson and Thorman) prior to Tex, neither of whom are even in the majors now.

    I was a little shocked that the Angels would pull the trigger on Tex, but they’ve got the money to sign him long term.   I was in LA once on business and I was able to go see the Angels play and it was one of the best ballpark experiences of my life.  I’ve been kind of fond of the Angels since then and I honestly wish Tex nothing but the best and hope he’s able to play there effectively for a long time to come.  I commend GM Wren for getting something useful for Tex and for realizing that the Braves aren’t going to the playoffs this year.

  3. Buzzy says:

    JC,

    Do you have any thoughts on how to estimate the value of two draft picks (and they could be pretty high picks if we continue to suck in the standings)? Versus the relative value of Kotchman/Marek?

    I know a common reaction to this trade in Braves Nation is: “Well, it’s not an overwhelming return, but it’s better than just taking Teixeira’s draft picks.” I just wonder whether there is strong evidence in favor of this sentiment?

  4. Buzzy says:

    Sorry, what I meant to say was: Obviously the 1st round pick for Teixeira will be a second-half pick at best, depending on whether it’s NY/Baltimore or whoever that signs him. But it’s still two good picks you get for Tex. Is it clear this is worth significantly less than 3+ years of Kotchman, who seems like a pretty average first baseman in terms of offense?

  5. Kyle James says:

    I’m going to have to agree w/ Buzzy here.  I’m not totally convinced the two late 1st picks aren’t worth more than this trade.  If Braves think they have a solid shot next year, do we, then maybe the quick turnaround on a 1B does make sense.  For competing next year w/out having to fork up the $25mil or so Teix is going to demand then this deal makes sense.  Otherwise the long term value of those picks probably beat this out in my book.  Just my two cents…

  6. Johnny says:

    JC I agree with your analysis.  #5 and #4 If we had kept Teixiera and opted for the draft picks then that would have been a pitcher, two outfielders (3?) and a first basemen that we would need to be even sort of good next season.  Assuming that the said draft picks have the normal gestation period before they are mlb ready.  Wren did the right thing by going ahead and filling one of the teams needs right away. 

    I keep on hearing Conor Jackson.  Well had he been available then I am sure that he’d be a Brave now.  Moot point.

  7. John says:

    Getting one sure fire MLB starter and a high probability MLB calibre reliever is worth far more than two lottery tickets (draft picks).  Sure, it’s possible that one of both of those players would reach the majors and contribute, but it’s also very possible neither would pan out.

    The chances of getting a player of Marek’s level (good stuff, poor command reliever) is much better in the draft with the wealth of college relief pitching typically available (though I don’t know what the 2009 draft class for relievers looks like). 

    3 years of cost control on Kotchman (proven MLB commodity), however, has to viewed as more valuable than a late 1st round draft pick, if, as JC says, this is a down year for CK.

  8. Brant says:

    This may have been covered somewhere else, but does anyone know why Marek was converted from a starter to reliever this year? 

  9. Tyler says:

    Burns:  Anything left?
    Smithers:  Uh, only the sour quince log sir.
    Burns:  Ew!  Dispose of it.  And, uh, send a thank you note to Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson.

  10. Cliff says:

    JC,

    Nice analysis on many fronts.

    Doesn’t your statistical age curve say that Kotchman’s OPS+ should improve by about 10 points over the next 3 years *(and thus make him a slightly above average first baseman at a really good cost)?

    I disagree on the extent of the negative on Schafer.

    Basically, he has put up good numbers against righthanders (particularly for as gifted of a fielder as he).  He has been awful against lefties.  He is not 22 for another month.  He also had dreadful stats the 4 games or so in April when he was waiting for the guillotine to fall. 

    He needs a lot of work on and exposure to lefties.  He will probably be good enough to be a platoon partner CF at Major League level next spring.   If he can hit the lefties better, then he can be a well above average player.