Thoughts on Teixeira

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.

These comments drew the ire of Fire Joe Morgan. DOB, who was a good sport about the fisking, later responded in his blog with a few numbers of his own.

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.

12 Responses “Thoughts on Teixeira”

  1. Rick says:

    I think that DOB comments here under another name. “Hi, I cherry pick stats to try and prove my point.” I would love for the Braves to trade Teixeira to the D-Backs for Mr. Conor Jackson. Sure, it would be a rental for them, but they need to do something to add some offense and adding Teixeira would be a good way to do it. The Braves need to get more than just 2 picks for him and Jackson is a cost controlled player with good numbers who should get even better for the next few years.
    Teixeira will be overpayed, probably by one of the teams in NY, but you have to factor in “baseball inflation” into the back end years of his contract. I believe it usually runs about 10% a year for FAs.

  2. Wouldn’t all players be expected to perform “a little worse” in clutch situations since that is when a team is most likely to have its best pitchers in the game?

  3. Jason W says:

    Probably. So far this year in the NL, batters are hitting .258/.329/.411 overall, but only .250/.332/.392 in “Late & Close” situations, defined as “7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.”

    I’m also trying to understand DOB’s rebuttal. Does he think a guy who hit .324/.390/.703 over 10 games isn’t good? Or that Chipper and Greg Norton getting one RBI each in an 8-2 loss means they “carried” the team in that game? I’m confused.

  4. Greyson says:

    JC, so you really think there is no chance the Braves can make a run at the playoffs this season?

    Rumors have it that the Rockies have moved from being possible sellers to likely buyers, and they’re only a half game closer to first in their, albeit weaker, division.

    Now I’m not saying a real run is likely, but I’m certainly going to wait until after this weekend’s series to declare whether or not Tex SHOULD be traded. If we keep him the worst case scenario is that he walks at the end of the year and we get two high draft picks. Keeping him around not only will generate more interest in the team, and possibly contribute to an exciting run, but it might give all parties involved just the little more time needed to realize what a perfect fit he is with the town/team. I do seem to remember a high-profile Boras client taking a similar approach last offseason.

    It’s not all that much, granted, but from what I’ve heard the offers coming in aren’t all that better. Conor Jackson might be a good fit, but what does Arizona have to offer on top of that? Any other reasonable rumors out there that I haven’t come across yet?

  5. Rick says:

    Greyson-Jackson might be a good fit? I’m not sure what his Runs Produced are, but he’s a perfect fit. Good numbers. Cost controlled. Young. Very likely to improve upon current numbers. What is there not to like about him? I’d trade them straight up right now.

    I would much rather trade Teixeira for a proven MLB player, at relatively low cost,that will be around for a few years than a couple of draft picks that will take millions to sign and develop and then might not work out.

    The only way “interest will be generated about the team” is if they win. Having Mark Teixeira on the team is not going to generate any more fan interest than there currently is. And by fan interest, I mean ticket sales.

    There is no way that the Braves will sign Teixeira for what the Mets, Yankees etc will be able to sign him for. It’s not going to happen. They have too many other needs that need to be addressed. Freeing up salary by trading Teixeira will help them address those needs.

  6. Brant says:

    Arizona may not have anything else to offer on top of Jackson, but wouldn’t you take a known commodity like Jackson (who, as Rick points out, is controlled) over two draft picks?

    Keep in mind that, if Tex isn’t resigned, there aren’t many other options for 1B in the Braves organization (we all remember the Thorman experiment, I guess Kala Kaaihue could be a possibility). Obviously someone else could be signed, but that’s no sure thing either.

    I’d jump at an offer of Jackson and a bucket of baseballs.

  7. Greyson says:

    Brant: Haha, well we are short on balls these days… But seriously, Jason Heyward will be in Atlanta by 2010, but of course either him or Jackson would fit fine in left as well.

    Rick: Would I prefer Jackson over 2 top draft picks, certainly. Would I prefer that the Braves make a real run and maybe even reach the playoffs and then I get two top draft picks if I’m not able to sign him, absolutely. You’re probably going to make up those millions with the additional gate from an extended playoff push, and definitely will if we sneak in the back door.

    I agree the only way we draw interest is by winning, but Tex gives us a better chance to win this year than Jackson, and I’m not going to give up that edge without some additional compensation. Remember what Tex put up after we got him last year? Astronomical production by any measure.

    BTW, thanks for the cheap shot. Jackson’s RP: 139 in 140 games in ’06, 101 in 130 games in ’07, and 100 in 90 games so far this year. That last one certainly makes me reconsider, but I’d still need at least one more quality prospect. Remember we shipped off 6 decent-great prospects to get him just a year ago, his value shouldn’t have fallen that far.

  8. Rick says:

    Six prospects? I recall only four and that the braves also got Mahay in the deal. Saltalamacchia, Andrus and 2 pitching prospects.

    His value is not as high as you think it is. You can’t use the trade that brought him here to assign value to him this year. He is worth whatever someone will pay for him. His value was higher then because there was another year on his contract. It’s not as high now because he’s a FA after this year.

    The Braves aren’t making the playoffs this year. Do the math. They have three teams in front of them and the WC is coming from the NL Central. They aren’t sneaking in the back door.

    Quit using bad stats and I’ll quit taking “cheap shots” at you.

  9. K-Funk says:

    Tex’s “problem” is that he’s not as good as Pujols or Berkman, and everyone wants to judge him by those elite standards. Tex isn’t an annual MVP candidate, but he’s a very, very good player.

    Still, I think the Braves would be better off spending, say, $10 million on a decent 1st baseman and have $10 million leftover to spend somewhere else (left field?) rather than spend $20 million on Tex.

    (In fairness, I haven’t really studied the upcoming free agent market.)

  10. Greyson says:

    Rick: I guess we were both wrong. On second look it was 5 top prospects, all judged Top 20 in the organization. They were: Salty and Matt Harrison who are both in the majors now. Elvis Andrus a top prospect putting up good numbers in AA. Neftali Feliz who is also up in AA after pitching brilliant in A ball, and Beau Jones (the 41st pick in the draft from 2005,) who is pitching well in A ball as well. I also did overlook the fact that we got two months of Mahay in the deal, my apologies to Ron.

    I understand the valuation process of the market. What I was saying was that if we can’t get a decent return (Conor Jackson + 1 prospect on the level of Feliz or Jones) then why not hold onto him and see what he can produce for us, and take the two top picks in compensation. If 1.4 years of Tex, and 0.4 of Mahay, was worth 5 good prospects, then 0.4 is worth more than one good player (especially if it is anywhere near the 0.4 that he ended with last season.) A straight up deal doesn’t seem worth it, unless, as you have, you’re throwing in the towel on this season regardless. Has anyone heard any other names that might be included in any such Conor Jackson deal? Brooks Brown seems like a good fit. Or a Barry Enright perhaps? Brett Anderson? Gerardo Parra? Reynaldo Navarro? Arizona should be able to part with one of these guys if they want the most productive player in baseball over the ’07 stretch run for their ’08 run.

    As for giving up, here’s some math:

    The Mets are currently on pace to win 87 games, leaving the Braves the task of going 39-22, or a .639 winning percentage over their last 61 games to force a playoff. Likely? No. Possible? Absolutely. Lots of things happen over the months of August and September. Remember on July 26, 2007 the Colorado Rockies were in 4th place and 5.5 games out in their division. I think we all remember where they were in October: Fenway Park. Remember 1914! Then again, I’m sure you have some new fangled stat that makes winning percentages irrelevant, so this probably won’t sway you.

    [Text Removed by Administrator: Stop it! Last warning, Greyson. You are egging others on. ]

  11. JC says:

    Greyson is gone. Please, do not respond to his last message, as he will not have the opportunity to respond.

  12. Max says:

    Ok, it is probably worth trading Tex (as a Mets fan, Id love to see him out of the division) but as a type A free agent the Braves should definitely be looking for prospects a lot better than the two they would get in the draft. I know this sounds oh so obvious but, apparently some GM’s dont get it. For example, Jon Rauch for what? Nady AND Marte, for whom? Seriously, I know people say this everyday, but I could have gotten better deals on those three. Especially from the friggin Yankees. If I were the Pirates and the Yankees wanted both Nady and Marte, I would have started by demanding Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson plus two more prospects probably Tabata and another low level moderate pitcher.