When Mark Teixeira approaches the plate in the first inning of tonight's game in Boston, he will be the 819th player to play for the Angels franchise and the 20th to wear #25 on his jersey.
Yes this is a bummer losing a good Angel. It is weird for fans of the team as we are not used to big trades, especially during the season. It must be kinda queasy for some longtime Angels who have gone through this ritual far less than the average baseball player.
I always liked Casey Kotchman, loved hearing the stories about him taking BP with Garret in the minor leagues instead of doing his 4th grade homework, etc. The biggest worry over Paul Konerko’s free agency a few years back was not signing the aging slugger, but knowing that doing so would make Kotch expendable.
2005 was the warm up for what was supposed to be the breakthrough – but mononucleosis would stall him for 2006. There is no doubt in my mind that a healthy Kotch would have made at least 4 games difference in the AL West race in 2006. Finally, we got one very good season, 2007, out of Casey and 2/3 of a very good season this year. That is his legacy. His 71 doubles as an Angel in 1,265 Plate Appearances is good for 37th on the all-time franchise list.
Moving forward, the deal we made is a decent upgrade over Kotchman for two months. Teix’s defense is superb, like Kotch’s, Teix is faster on the basepaths. He hits for more power, and gets on base more often and in more ways than Casey. This is pretty much obvious to the casual as well as the sophisticated fan. Many stat-wonks are saying the upgrade is mild, almost cosmetic. They support this with some of the outlier, peripheral stats; they dance around the fact that they are discussing what amounts to microscopic measurements.
Stat wonks also ignore the human element. Teix’s status will affect the perception that opposing managers and pitchers have about the Angels lineup during the game. It is no knock on Kotch that he was recently still having to adjust – still – to the way the league was pitching him. It is no knock on Kotch to say that while he is universally respected, his bat in the lineup was not feared upon mention at anywhere near the level that Teix’s is.
If stat-wonks can speak with authority regarding outlier “fip”-type measurements that describe less than one quarter of one percent of a player’s game, than the unquantifiable impact of a player as a personality and known entity amidst a lineup has to enter the picture.
With all of this considered, Teixeira’s presence in the lineup and the field for 1/3 of this season balanced with Kotchman’s absence is a bigger plus than I, a big Kotchman booster, would have initially admitted or ever felt.
Here is where it gets interesting. The pundits insist that we only “win” this trade if we lock up Teixeira. Wrong. Like popular Angel Orlando Cabrera blocking Erick Aybar, the well-liked Kotchman has been blocking Kendry Morales. While Kotchman is 3 years younger than Teixeira, he is 4 months older than Kendry Morales. While Kendry is behind Kotchman developmentally, he is catching up. He is a little faster on the basepaths and can be projected to be hitting for more power. He matches up well player-to-player as a comparable to Kotchman, plus he is cheaper and under club control for longer.
Teix leaving as a free agent leaves the Angels with Morales (a comparable alternative to Kotchman that is cheaper) and two early draft picks as compensation.
Teix re-signing with us gives us a player who should be better than both Kotch and Kendry for 3-5 of the likely 7 year deal he signs.
In fact, free agency will be a win-win. Not re-signing Teix immediately provides the cash to re-sing Frankie. Signing Teix gives us the green light to trade Morales as part of a package for a quality reliever to bolster the pen in Frankie’s absence.
Teixeira is no guarantee of anything in the post-season, but neither was Kotchman. A numbers-cruncher can come up with an obscure stat to split a hair better here or there as much as a psychological assessment could give the middle of our present order a “fear factor” in regards to opponents being nervous.
If we do not win it all, the trade might look like a failure, but if Morales is raking at this time next season or even in 2010, the judgment of this deal will have to be re-opened for consideration.