With Mark Teixeira‘s days with the Braves likely being numbered, I thought I’d make a few comments about him. I’m a huge fan, and I think he is a fantastic all-around player. His career line of .285/.372/.534 is quite good. And even though his performance was aided by the friendly hitting environment of Arlington, his career OPS+ is a robust 131. As a defender, he is outstanding. He’s won two Gold Gloves and Plus/Minus ranks him as the fourth best first-basemen this season.
He is the type of player you build a team around. I do wish the Braves could hold onto him, but it makes sense to trade him to a contender now. If the Braves want him back, the team should sign him as a free agent. While this scenario is unlikely, I do not think it is that far out of the realm of possibility. Of course, the Braves aren’t telling the media that they have some interest in him as a free agent. The team will need to replace Tex’s offense if it wants to contend next year, and there don’t seem to be many other internal alternatives. Maybe the front office doesn’t have the stomach or the budget to sign Tex, but if you are going to sign a player to a big contract, this is the right player to sign to a long-term deal.
First, let me comment on what I think it will take to sign Tex. Before the season started, I estimated that Tex would get a $26.8 million/year in a six-year deal. This estimate accounts for his previous play, park effects, aging, and the expected rise in salaries (which should NOT be called “inflation”: an increase in the price-level of the economy). I have since revised that estimate to $24.4 million. Tex is going to get paid a lot of money for two reasons. 1) He is an excellent baseball player. 2) Baseball revenues will continue to grow, which raises the marginal revenue products of all its players. In six years, $20 million won’t seem to be as exceptional as it seems today. If the Braves don’t want in on this, fine; but, that means there are going to be many other free agents out there that the Braves will also avoid.
Second, I would like to address the argument that Tex is not clutch. David O’Brien of the AJC made this case the other day.
Is Teixeira, with his Gold Glove-level defense and likely .290-30-120 to .310-45-130 offensive range for many years to come, worth $20 mill a season? I’d say only to a team that has a huge payroll, at least $150 mill or so. Not to a team with a $100 mill payroll, because while he piles up stats, he’s not a player, at least from what I’ve seen, who puts a team on his back and delivers big hits when the team needs it most….
Anyway, this isn’t to downplay his skills or output. Both are unquestionably big. He’s durable and piles up stats, year after year. But I know an impact offensive player, a player whose performance seems bigger than his numbers because he gets so many key hits. And I know the opposite.
That was outstanding. Beautifully done, and well-though out, I might add.
Fortunately for me, the vast majority of our readers — you know, actual Braves fans who watch most of the games — agree more with my assessment of the situation than you and your bud who wrote that post. But it was a beaut. I feel honored to have incited that response.
By the way, speaking of well-though out, you said the last few games you’ve watched, Tex has carried the team. Really? Then I gotta ask, do you watch more than one game a week?
Here’s what Braves have done in last 10 — repeat, TEN — games, and what Tex has done. You tell me who carried them to what in that span.
— July 7, 3-0 loss to Dodgers (Tex 1-for-3)
— July 8, 9-3 win vs. Dodgers (Tex 1-for-5, HR, 1 RBI; McCann 2-for-5, 2 HRs, 2 RBI).
— July 9, 2-1 loss to Dodgers (Tex 0-for-3, no RBI).
— July 11, 4-0 loss to Padres (Tex 0-for-4).
— July 12, 4-1 win vs. Padres (Tex 1-for-4, no RBI; Chipper 3-for-4, Fracouer 2-for-4, 2 RBI).
— July 13, 12-3 win vs. Padres (Tex 2-for-5, 2 RBI; McCann 3-for-3, HR, 3 RBI; Lillibridge 3-for-5, 2 RBI).
— July 18, 7-6 win vs. Nats (Tex 1-for-2, no RBI; McCann 1-for-4, 3 RBI; Lillibridge 2-for-4, 2 RBI).
— July 19, 8-2 loss to Nats (Tex 1-for-3, no RBI; Chipper 1 RBI; Norton 1 RBI).
— July 20, 15-6 loss to Nats (Tex 3-for-4, 2 HRs, 3 RBI).
— July 21, 4-0 win vs. Marlins (2-for-4, 1 RBI; Kotsay 2-for-4, 1 RBI; Chipper 1 RBI, Prado 1-for-1, 1 RBI; Campillo and two relievers, two-hit shutout).
Now, Braves Fan in Tn., I’m not suggesting you don’t watch many or any games, but if, as you say, Tex carried the team in the last few games you’ve watched, how long a span do we have to go back to get those “few games?”
Well-though out, indeed.
You know, I’ve been following the Braves just like most Braves fans, and I have quite the opposite view. And the stats don’t support DOB’s contention.
In those ten games, Tex posted a line of .324/.390/.703. This season, here is how he has performed in some measures of “clutch situations.”
Split OPS 2 outs, RISP 0.897 Late & Close 1.192 Tie Game 0.752 Within 1 Run 0.879 Within 2 Run 0.856 Within 3 Run 0.886 Within 4 Run 0.901 Margin > 4 R 0.830
For his career, his numbers look like this.
Split OPS 2 outs, RISP 1.067 Late & Close 0.915 Tie Game 0.896 Within 1 Run 0.881 Within 2 Run 0.893 Within 3 Run 0.885 Within 4 Run 0.895 Margin > 4 R 0.972
I watch the games too, but the differences in performance are so small that it is easy to gain false perceptions about players just from watching and remembering. The only way to see the difference is in the numbers.
Don’t think that I am arguing that Tex is clutch: I don’t believe in clutch-hitting as a true talent. My point is that I don’t think any team ought to be scared away by a lack of clutch ability. He’s a good hitting in all situations. And even if he is a little worse when the pressure is on, he’s still better than most options on the manager’s bench. I made these comments on his blog, but I got no response.
To the fans of the team that wins the Teixeira sweepstakes, I urge you to welcome him with open arms.