The Final Shakedown

John Schuerholz was extremely busy at the trade deadline, and he’s definitely improved Atlanta this season. What this says about future seasons, though, is, uh, pretty unclear…

There were 3 deals today that the Braves got in on:

  1. Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, and Beau Jones.
  2. Octavio Dotel for Kyle Davies.
  3. Royce Ring for Will Startup and Wilfredo Ledezma.

I talked about trade #1 already. #2 is an even trade: the Braves get some much-needed bullpen help and the Royals get a pitching prospect. Davies probably wasn’t going to be back in Atlanta after getting on Bobby Cox’s list, so the fact that Atlanta could get the top reliever on the market for him is good, especially considering what Dayton Moore wanted from other teams (like, say, Phil Hughes). Ring for Startup and Ledezma, though, is weird. Ledezma was already DFA’d, so the Braves had no leverage with him. Thus, it’s basically Startup for Ring. Ring was excellent in the PCL this season, but has had some major control issues in the majors. Meanwhile, Startup is 4 years younger and has been a very good reliever in his minor league career. So I’d call that about a wash, although I’d personally keep Startup.

Thus, Atlanta really solidified its bullpen and added a major hitter to the lineup. They have a big hole at the #5 starter position, but that’s the only big hole that the Braves have—otherwise, they have a dominant offense, 2 excellent starters and another good one, a 4th starter who doesn’t suck, and a solid bullpen. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of four highly-rated prospects, a young starter who has a chance to get it together, and a prospect reliever, so it’s a huge price.

Update:  Once again, I forgot to plug my site.  For information and statistics on the guys who were traded, as well as all of the other Braves minor leaguers, check out Project Kaleidic.

Joe Morgan An Idiot; Bears Continue To Crap In The Woods

Chris (Tampa): Does adding Teixeira to the Braves lineup give them one of if not the most potent lineup in baseball?

Joe Morgan: (11:23 AM ET ) No, there are better lineups than the Braves–the Tigers, the Mets. He may help their lineup, but it doesn’t make them the best.

Morgan has never actually watched a baseball game and does not have any clue of who any of the players are. The fact that he would say something like this, therefore, is hardly surprising. He had a 50-50 chance and heck, they’re all worse than the Big Red Machine.

In fact, you know how I know that Morgan doesn’t know? The Mets are currently 9th in the NL in run scoring! Behind the Braves! They have holes at catcher and right field, are throwing out below-average guys at first base and left field, and have just lost their third-best hitter in Carlos Beltran. The Braves, meanwhile, just went from brutal to bruising at first base and with the Teixeira move, now have better regulars at 7 of 8 positions (Center Field being the only exception).

Teixeira A Brave

Mark Teixeira is a Brave along with Ron Mahay, in return for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and a PTBNL (perhaps Matt Harrison). Here’s what I think about this:

Teixeira will help Atlanta a huge amount. At the moment, the Braves have a good offense when Chipper is in the lineup and a bad one when he is not. Overall, that leads to 5th in the NL in R/G, thanks to last night’s drubbing. Add Teixeira and the OPS for first base goes up, say, 200 points, which brings Atlanta closer to #2 or #3 in the majors, and if Andruw can have a nice second half, the Braves have a shot at having the #1 offense in the NL as long as Chipper stays healthy. If Atlanta can sign him to an extension somehow, that’ll take a lot of the sting away.

Mahay is actually better than I realized: he handles both lefties and righties very well, which means he could slot in where Mike Gonzalez was expected to pitch this season: setup lefty. That helps the bullpen a lot.

On the down side, losing Saltalamacchia will be big in future years, but you know that he’s going to take a couple of years to develop and that any deal would require him, but Teixeira’s going to outhit him in the foreseeable future, so the difference is that Saltalamacchia is much less expensive, but will take a while to become good.

Andrus is somebody who everybody’s so high on, and he has a huge amount of talent, but as noted, the Braves have a lot of up-the-middle guys. Could he be better than all of the rest? Maybe so, but he wouldn’t be in Atlanta for at least 3 more years.

Feliz is a huge power arm and hey, those are nice to have. But he’s probably the third or fourth most talented guy on the Danville roster. I’d much prefer Feliz than Thomas Hanson.

Meanwhile, Harrison’s a bread-and-butter lefty with control over a fastball and changeup and who needs work on his curveball. If he, in fact, is the guy who gets dealt, he could eventually become a mid-level starter. Granted, I’d prefer to see Davies traded before Harrison, but the Braves have several mid-level starter prospects and one already in Chuck James.

So all in all, this is obviously a move toward winning now rather than in the future. As long as the Braves are able to keep Teixeira somehow, I don’t think it’s a bad deal. For the Rangers, there’s a lot of risk involved: Andrus and Feliz are a long way away, and we don’t know who the PTBNL is.

Now, what does this do for Atlanta? Given that the Braves needed help at first base, one or preferably two relievers, and a 5th starter who can get through a game without leaving in the 4rd inning, Atlanta’s plugged in two big holes. If they could make room for Will Startup, that’d help the bullpen out as well, and leave the 5th starter mess as the only major problem left. But as they stand today, this is a team that can compete in the playoffs. 3 times out of 5, the Braves are sending up a good starter, and Buddy Carlyle does a good job of beating up on bad teams. If Mahay helps the bullpen out by taking some pressure off of Soriano and Yates, that means that the bullpen should hopefully blow fewer games, and as long as Chipper stays healthy, the offense should score a whole lot of runs.

So this trade doesn’t fill all of the needs, and there’s still a risk that something bad can happen to an integral part of the team (Chipper, Smoltz, Soriano), but I wouldn’t say that it was a ripoff.

Update:  Since there are some people looking at this page, if you haven’t seen it already, go to Project Kaleidic and you can see minor league stats for these guys, as well as all of the other Braves minor leaguers.

Abundant Social Change…And This Is A Good Thing?

Don Boudreaux put up a post citing favorably a passage in Brink Lindsay’s new book. The passage is as follows:

American capitalism is derided for its superficial banality, yet it has unleashed profound, convulsive social change. Condemned as mindless materialism, it has burst loose a flood tide of spiritual yearning. The civil rights movement and the sexual revolution, environmentalism and feminism, the fitness and health-care boom and the opening of the gay closet, the withering of censorship and the rise of a “creative class” of “knowledge workers” — all are the progeny of widespread prosperity.

So, let’s see, racial quotas, the destruction of the father’s role in society and replacement with the government as caretaker, stupid environmental regulations which drive up housing prices (“greenspace” laws) and prevent people from using their land in the best possible manner (“wetlands protection”), the Equal Rights Amendment (similar to what’s going in in Europe right now), the nanny state controlling what you’re allowed to eat and where you may smoke, calls for a socialist-style single-payer system, and the unleashing of an ideology which will result in the destruction of marriage as an institution and lead to government taking over as the caretaker for children even more than already. These are things we’re supposed to like? I’m a fan of Boudreaux, but I’d prefer superficial banality to the “convulsive social change” that Lindsay describes.

Also, I should note that I don’t think that markets have much to do with any of these except for knowledge workers and perhaps changes in censorship (although Lindsay is much, much too willing to ignore modern censorship when he speaks of its “withering,” as political correctness is an euphemism for censorship).