Monday, July 27, 2009

As Ugly As I Seem: the anniversary of the Mark Teixeira trade

We're coming up on the anniversary of the Mark Teixeira trade. Does it seem as god-awful now as it did at the time? Briefly, yes. It's still awful.

To refresh: the Braves dealt Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek.

Kotchman has been putrid with the bat to the tune of a 0.8 wins above replacement since the trade (in other words, Kotchman's contribution has been worth less than one run better than what a random, non-prospect dude from AAA would have produced). Marek has been just as awful. In 34 innings between AA Mississippi and AAA Gwinnett, Marek has given up 23 earned runs, 27 strikeouts, and 30 walks.

Alternate universe scenario: Braves offer Teixeira arbitration. Teixeira declines. Teixeira signs with Yankees. Braves receive two sandwich picks.

Yeah, I like that version better.

Alternate universe scenario two: Braves offer Teixeira arbitration. Teixeira declines. Braves sign Teixeira.

Now, suppose the Braves spend the same $20 million on Mark Texeira as the Yankees did (this is problematic, but bear with me until the end of the paragraph). The Braves are immediately 5.46 wins better than they are in the depressing reality where they instead have Casey Kotchman under contract. These extra wins have monetary value, especially if they prove to be the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. If you place the value of each marginal win at $4.5 million, Mark Teixeira's production net of Casey Kotchman is worth $24.57 million. The Braves could have outbid the Yankees by $4.57 million and the result would have been a wash!

Now, I should point out that Teixeira's contract is heavily backloaded, and it is highly unlikely that he'll be worth the $22.5 million he'll be paid as a 36-year-old, but the Yankees to be sure are due some surplus on the front end.

In any case, my point is this: trading for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek was the worst of all possible decisions. Casey Kotchman is a first baseman who has no power, no longer gets on base, and isn't especially good with the glove. As for Stephen Marek, I'd be shocked if he ever set foot on a major league baseball diamond, and the fact that he was given the title of "prospect" when news articles covering the trade were written was, quite frankly, laughable.

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