Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mark Teixeira

The trade might truly benefit both teams.

Atlanta has tough ground to make up in the playoff race. Teixeira is the kind of special talent who can help a team do that.

Atlanta is the most natural long-term destination for Teixeira. He played at Georgia Tech - so fans consider him a home boy. His wife is from the Atlanta area. Atlanta would be nice.

Mark Teixeira has said, several times, that money is not the prime consideration for him. Until he proves differently, I give Teixeira the benefit of the doubt on this. In spite of Scott Boras; in spite of Teixeira's union activism; in spite of the union's history of pressuring big free agents to hold out for ground breaking contracts: I'm expecting Teixeira to choose a team based on factors other than money.

It raises red flags, however, when Teixeira says he wants to play somewhere he "can win". Winning and high payrolls are synonymous. High payroll = big bucks for Teixeira. Teixeira could be making a clever statement which will provide him cover.

Worse, Teixeira could be laying the groundwork to try and influence Braves management in the future, as in: I signed with the Braves b/c they promised me I could win here. Therefore, the Braves need to sign x y z free agents so we can win.

Based on his Rangers track record, that could be Teixeira's purpose for making such a statement. Wherever he plays, Teixeira might try to meddle in management's decisions.

Mark Teixeira has a whining personality. He is quick to blame team management for not acquiring the right kind of players to help a team win. He is quick to blame a team's field manager for ... whatever: incorrect in-game moves; failure to massage player egos; or, conversely, failure to crack the whip on players. With Mark Teixeira: it's always someone else's fault, and it's especially always management's fault.

Teixeira hit like a little girl in May of this year. The Rangers got avalanche-buried from the first instant of the 2007 season. By June, Teixeira was blaming Rangers' management for the team's predicament. I'm not saying Rangers' management was blameless. I'm saying Teixeira displayed some not-so-admirable and not-so-logical chutzpah.

Teixeira also had a terrible start in 2006. He blamed that on not getting enough at bats during the World Baseball Tournament. It was "the man's" fault: the organizers of the tourney; the baseball and union officials who agreed to participate in it; the manager of the U.S. team who kept putting Derek Lee in the line-up. Teixeira was a victim. You see what I'm getting at. BTW: Teixeira was a solid part of the reason the U.S. didn't win that tourney. He was HORRIBLE at the plate. But it wasn't his fault.

This is why I'm glad Mark Teixeira is gone from Texas. After watching for several years, this is my somewhat-learned-yet-could-still-be-wrong conjecture(its a dash --- day at the keyboard):

Teixeira intends to be a good guy, yet he is quietly, almost unintentionally malicious. If he was a role player, this personality quirk would be no big deal. His status as a star makes this a very big and very bad deal. If I was a player, I would initially enjoy hanging out with and being teammates with Teixeira. Soon enough, I would begin to fear he was a malignant force inside the clubhouse.

Mark Teixeira needs to be in a clubhouse where he is not the leader. He needs a team with about 5 leadership voices with more persuasive power than his own.

Further: Teixeira needs to be in a line-up where he is protected. He swings at too many bad pitches. This is a veeeeery subtle distinction. Teixeira is not an overt free swinger. He's kinda good at being selective - yet he is not as good as you ideally want your hitters to be.

There was an infamous shouting match in which Ron Washington shouted that he was not impressed with Teixeira's past statistics. Ron Washington meant that in his assessment - aka the Oakland A's assessment: Teixeira's statistics were cheap. Ron Washington meant that the Oakland A's did not consider Teixeira a consummate championship quality hitter. The Oakland A's believed they could taunt Teixeira with pitches on the edges, and get him out when they needed to. I've watched a ton of Mark Teixeira at bats. I believe the Oakland A's assessment was correct.

BUUUT: Teixeira is still a young player. He can still mature. He can still improve. In the long term, he can be a legitimate difference maker. He can be a monster who keeps the opposition awake at night. In the short term, Teixeira can succeed in a big way:

  1. if you put him in a clubhouse where his voice is no more than about the sixth most powerful voice on the team; and
  2. if you sandwich him between outstanding hitters, thus forcing pitchers to come to him.
Teixeira can be a tremendous difference maker in that situation. He can be a breathtaking star. The man brings talent, competitive concentration, and hustle - and he brings it every night. There is much to admire about Mark Teixeira. It's worth a ticket to watch him hit.

Maybe, as he ages, Teixeira will mature both his personality and his pitch selection, and thus become the complete package. He has the intelligence to do that, and maybe he has the good-intentioned desire to do that. It's possible he is merely an immature, headstrong young guy who neverthless has good intentions. He might ripen into one of the top players in the game - and you can only say that about a few players. I was sick of him in Texas. However: maybe the situation was a classic moment in time, in which all parties just needed a fresh start. Teixeira is a good wager by the Atlanta Braves. I hope he is smart enough to stay there.

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