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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Report: Angels Deal Kotchman, Marek For Teixeira

Looks like I was wrong, maybe: these things have a way of unraveling, but not by the time they hit the Keith Laws and Jason Starks of the world. ESPN is reporting that the Angels have acquired Mark Teixeira, sending Casey Kotchman and Steven Marek. The power hitting outfielder needed to complete the deal, reported earlier in the day in the Times, apparently was just wishcasting by the Braves.

Well: let us see what this is about. Mark Teixeira is a 28-year-old first baseman, who has pretty much come up swinging ever since he hit the majors. He's on the last year of his major league deal (and I believe the final year of arbitration eligibility), so for this trade to work out for the Angels, they'll pretty much have to extend him before the season is over and he hits free agency. It being he is a Scott Boras client, the likelihood of that happening is about zero, as Boras clients inevitably hit the open market. There should be a pretty good market, too, because the Angels would have to bid against the Yankees; recall that Jason Giambi is in the final year of his seven-year deal with the Yanks, and the Mets could use him as well.

Stephen Marek (2008 stats) is having a nice little season with Arkansas this year; he started the season as the Angels' sixth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America. He's posting a career high in K/9 (11.0) with a 57/21 K/BB ratio, and a 1.31 G/F ratio. BA thinks he'd profile as a mid-rotation starter, so he's a fine haul for the Braves.

So this is a very expensive two-month rental, assuming the reporting is correct. Kotchman hasn't posted good power numbers, but prior to this year he's had good on-base percentage and had a reasonable chance of becoming something like Mark Grace, Jr. That's not bad value at all from a first baseman; nevertheless, power is one of this team's big worries moving forward, especially with Vlad apparently in decline. It's not unreasonable to think that Teixeira could command a five year, $100M deal this offseason; whether the Angels will pay that remains to be seen. Also, Teixeira is an east coast boy, and may not want to play for a team on the west coast. We'll see.

Update: Apparently this has been confirmed by the Braves.

Update 2: Perhaps the sudden emergence of Mark Trumbo and the presence of Kendry Morales in AAA made the Angels comfortable enough at the first base position to make them feel they could make this deal. There's some depth at first in the minors.

Update 3: A very ominous note from Jayson Stark:

The Angels didn't ask for a window to negotiate an extension with Teixeira. But it's expected that they'll make a massive effort to sign him to a long-term deal, after trading away their every-day first baseman, and a player they were especially fond of, in Kotchman. Teixeira is a Scott Boras client, however. And early rumblings are that his initial asking price will be in the neighborhood of 10 years, $230 million.

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I have to say that I hate this deal for the Angels. Why do I keep thinking that Artie forced the FO into making this deal? The Angels are becoming the Yankees of the West Coast.

Kotchman is a great player who is under contract for 3 more years. Plus, his dad has been with the organization for over 20 years as a scout and coach.

I have a feeling that Artie, originally an owner of a billboard company, is trying to market the Angels by buying up the best players on the market at the time. Vlad, Colon, GMJ, Hunter, now Tex.

This decision will come back to haunt the Angels
Boom. This is exactly what you say: an expensive two-month rental. Well, three, because the Halos evidently think they've got a shot at the title this year, and that's all this trade is about. I'm all for it. K is good but not awesome; Vlad used to be awesome but apparently is no longer. The Angels need some awesome in their lineup for the postseason, and bully for them for getting it. Winning your division every year (playing for the long haul by keeping K) isn't as good as winning the WS this year, and that is plainly what Arte, Tony and Mike are trying to do.
I quote Shredder in the BTF thread:

I hate this deal for the Angels. They trade a young, productive, and cheap player who has shown streaky power at a young age for a guy who isn't a huge upgrade right now (though granted, he'll make them better for the rest of this year), who isn't likely to play for the Angels past this season. It also means they've all but given up on keeping Frankie (as I assume they're targeting that salary for Tex).

This is their shot, because the Angels decline phase begins this November.

First, I don't agree that Teixeira/K-Rod is necessarily an either/or proposition. Secondly, I think Teix represents a substantial upgrade in terms of SLG...and quite possibly OBP, as I suspect a 28 year-old Teixeira is less likely to be corrupted by Mickey Hatcher than the younger, more impressionable Kotchman.

Of course, with respect to the money, it sure would be nice to have the extra $11 million that's being wasted on GMJr.

And in a worst-case scenario, the Angels get a chance to restock the farm system for once, rather than forfeit picks come free agent time.

Finally, trading for Teix allows them to (re)sign him as a free agent without losing any picks.
I think this is a good deal for the Angels. Kotchman seems like a good guy, and if he finds more consistency on offense, he could turn into Olerud or Mark Grace. However:

- Teixeira strongly increases their odds of winning the WS
- Losing him garners the Angels two compensatory picks
- I suspect Morales is as good as Kotchman
- If not Teixeira or Morales, maybe Rivera can get back to learning 1B, freeing up time for Willits.

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