So, I was writing a comment to the recent article "Why the Mark Teixeira Deal in '07 Isn't Such A Bad Thing for Braves Fans Anymore" by Coverin' The Spread. I soon realized what I was writing was far too long for a comment; so I decided to write this article. Now, this is by no means an attack at that article, simply an opposite viewpoint. I realize hindsight is 20/20, but in my defense, I remember I was very upset about the move at the time.
First off, obviously this didn't happen. So, this is purely speculative.
Let's assume we never trade for Teixeira at all.
We would have kept Jarred Saltalamacchia (who was the centerpiece at the time), Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones.
At the time Saltalamacchia was a "can't miss" power hitting catcher. Elvis was a top SS prospect, Feliz was a flame-throwing reliever who needed to learn control, Harrison was our top pitching prospect at the time, and Beau Jones was basically a throw in. According to Baseball America's prospect rankings prior to the 2007 season Salty, Andrus and Harrison were our top three prospects.
|1. ||Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c|
|2.||Elvis Andrus, ss|
|3.||Matt Harrison, lhp|
|4.||Brandon Jones, of|
|5.||Van Pope, 3b|
|6.||Eric Campbell, 3b|
|7.||Scott Thorman, 1b/of|
|8.||Jo-Jo Reyes, lhp|
|9.||Joey Devine, rhp|
|10.||Yunel Escobar, inf|
Now, it was fairly clear that since we already had McCann, Salty's greatest value to the team would be in a trade. He was very highly coveted at the time. In December 2008, there was a lot of talk between Texas and Boston about a deal revolving around Saltalamacchia for Clay Buchholz. Let's go with it and say the Braves were able to pull it off, perhaps throwing in other prospects.
Andrus could have been saved to develop, likewise with Feliz.
Let's assume we keep Andrus in the minor leagues through the 2008 season, just like Texas did.
After the 2008 season, the Braves were in strong trade discussions with the San Diego Padres about Jake Peavy. They only missed out on acquiring Peavy because of their lack of desire to include Yunel Escobar in the trade. Of course if the Braves had a speedy, gold glove defensive SS in Elvis waiting in the wings. This trade could have easily happened.
Which, if we did trade for Peavy, we wouldn't have signed Derek Lowe to a 4 year $60 million contract that same off season. *Note Peavy also made $60 million between 2009 and 2012* So contracts null.
We then have Andrus as our SS. Elvis would have provided a great deal of speed at the top of our lineup and a lead-off hitter, which we lack. Offensively, he is very different than Yunel, a slap hitter who utilizes his speed. He will continue to grow as a young offensive player, while providing Gold Glove defense for 6+ cost controlled seasons in a Braves uniform.
Now, if we had kept Feliz and he progressed just like he did in Texas. He would have come up in August 2009 and would have taken on a load of work in 2010. I don't however assume that this would mean we wouldn't have gone after Wagner. I still believe we would have brought Wagner to Atlanta, even if we did have Feliz there, letting him pitch the 8th. I don't however think we would have signed Saito.
Let's assume for sake of ease, that we kept Matt Harrison and it didn't work out.
If these moves were made, we wouldn't have had to bring in Kenshin Kawakami, saving 23 million over 2009-2011. We were lacking power, let's say instead of signing Kawakami for 23 million, we signed Adam Dunn to play 1B, since we would have had the need and the money, and gave him 23 million instead of the 20 Washington gave him.
We would then not have signed Glaus or needed to trade for Lee, saving money and prospects.
This is all not including the money that we would have saved from not having Teixeria.
So since the original reasoning for my writing of this article was as a response to an article that discussed how the 2010 Braves making the postseason may ease the pain of this trade, let's look at how our lineup could have looked if we never made this trade.
SS - Elvis Andrus
RF - Jason Heyward
3B - Chipper Jonse
1B - Adam Dunn
2B - Martin Prado
C - Brian McCann
LF - RH hitter / revolving door.
CF - Nate McLouth
SP - Tim Hudson
SP - Jake Peavy
SP - Clay Buchholz
SP - Tommy Hanson
SP - Jair Jurrjens
Closer - Wagner
Setup - Feliz
RP - Venters
RP - Medlen
RP - Moylan
RP - O'Flaherty
RP - Kimbrel
Now, of course all of this is speculation, but I don't believe any of this to be overly unrealistic.
Now, since the trade was bad enough, let's assume we made the mistake of trading for Mark Teixeira, offer him arbitration, he signs with the Yankees.
We would have then received two compensation picks for losing him. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but the compensation pick in the 1st round the Angels got for losing Teixeria, turned into CF prospect Mike Trout, who happens to be ranked the #2 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. Their supplemental round pick, was a LH pitcher named Tyler Skaggs, who was the centerpiece of the Dan Haren to LAA trade.
Now, we cannot go back and change history and undo this trade, but I am sure the Braves wish they did.
One thing is clear. This trade had huge ramifications in the Braves, and is a trade that, if never made, could have made the entire outlook of MLB different.