Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Waving the White Flag

Braves deal Teixeira to Angels for Kotchman, minor leaguer

The "minor leaguer" is Stephen Marek. Despite his last name, he is not an evil overlord or supervillain. He is, however, a 24-year-old reliever with some decent numbers in Double-A. (11.13 K/9, just two home runs in 43 2/3 innings and a vaguely acceptable walk rate) He had a great year in 2006 as a starter but has worked entirely as a reliever this season. Baseball America tabbed Marek has the sixth best prospect in the Angels organization. He's something more than a generic arm, but mostly, he's just a guy.

The "prize" here is first baseman Casey Kotchman, proud owner of a .287/.327/.448 line for the Angels. That's good for a 105 OPS+. For his career, he's hit .274/.337/.426. He's drawn only 18 walks in 373 at-bats. Kotchman has never been a power guy, and he doesn't project to ever be one.

So that's the bad news. The good news is that Kotchman's just 25 years old and put up a pretty solid .296/.372/.467 line for the Angels last year. For his career he's struck out only 108 times against exactly 100 walks; the decline in his plate discipline this year is kind of a mystery. He was one of those Angels prospects in the early-to-mid 00's who seemed to make Baseball America for about 13 consecutive years. Kotchman hit .325/.401/.493 in the minors while being age appropriate for the various levels at which he played. He'll probably get better, if not from natural age-related improvement then from the transition to the National League.

This is a completely unexciting deal, but likely the best Atlanta was going to get, considering both Teixeira's rent-a-player status and the Braves' need to acquire a young, Major League ready first baseman. Without Kotchman, the Braves would have to turn to a thoroughly depressing option like Greg Norton or Scott Thorman or Sid Bream. It certainly looks abysmal compared to the handful of treasure chests the Braves shipped off to Texas last year, but that was a different context. Besides, it's Atlanta's own damn fault for giving up that much in the first place.

If nothing else this deal demonstrates that Frank Wren has enough common sense to recognize a lost season when he sees one. He might turn around and trade for Jason Bay, but even that deal would be targeted at 2009 instead of this season. I can only hope he'll go all the way and attempt to find buyers for Will Ohman and Mark Kotsay. Ohman in particular should draw quite a bit of interest from lefty starved clubs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joe Biden for Braves first baseman!