Yesterday we looked at the 15th-greatest Angels acquisition, Adam Kennedy, as voted upon by several members of Halos Heaven. Today, we take a look at the player ranked 14th on our list.
In Tony Reagins' tumultuous tenure as the Angels' general manager from 2007-11, he made several moves one could characterize as...horrific. However, there is ONE move he made that is almost unilaterally considered his smartest, and in hindsight, even smarter than at the outset. It was towards the trade deadline, on July 29, 2008. Shortly before a game in which John Lackey came two outs away from no-hitting the Boston Red Sox (ruined by Ratface Pedroia himself), Reagins pulled an unexpected trigger on a steal of a trade, sending first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league reliever Stephen Marek to the Atlanta Braves...for first baseman Mark Teixeira.
MARK TEIXEIRA, FIRST BASEMAN
.358/.449/.632, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 69 H, 1.081 OPS, 181 OPS+, 54 games played, 3.6 WAR (10.8 average)
Despite "earnest" efforts by Angels management to sway him from Mrs. Teixeira's cat o' nine tails and Mapquest printout with directions to the Bronx, the Angels could not KEEP Teixeira after acquiring him, but in hindsight, the Angels gave up VERY little to get him, especially considering that the Braves surrendered FIVE prime prospects and rookies to acquire him in the summer before. At the time, some questioned the idea of giving up a promising, cost-controlled first baseman and a moderate-to-high ceiling pitching prospect for a player that wasn't any guarantee to return. However, the fact that Kotchman became a journeyman first baseman thereafter (playing for Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Cleveland in the five seasons since), plus the fact that Marek has never touched a major league mound in the time since, made this trade much more palatable, even without looking at Teixeira's gnarly stats.
For a better idea of how borderline historic Teixeira's season was, let's do the favor of projecting those 54-game statistics over a full season. Take a gander at those stats over an entire year:
.358/.449/.632, 39 HR, 129 RBI, 117 R, 207 H, 42 2B, 181 OPS+, 10.8 WAR
You're talking about a stat line that would've been records not even Mike Trout would've broken with his historic 2012. Teixeira's 10.8 WAR would've bested Trout's 10.7, and his 181 OPS+ would've beaten Trout's 171.
Had he played a full season in Anaheim, Teixeira likely would've been higher on this list, and if he'd re-signed, he'd be even higher still. But his monster stats aren't the sole reason Tex made the list.
Firstly, his departure, while bittersweet at first, opened the door for 1) Kendrys Morales, who posted a career season in 2009, finishing 5th in AL MVP voting, 2) Mike Trout, whom the Angels selected in the draft with the Yankees' would've-been first-round selection, 3) Mark Trumbo, who, in the wake of Morales' injury, stepped up as the starting first baseman in 2011 (likely, he would've spent all of 2011 at AAA or on the bench had Tex signed that eight-year deal with us), and 4) Albert Pujols, who snatched up a long-term deal of his own with us three years after Teixeira's farewell.
Secondly, in the disappointing 4 games the Angels played in the 2008 postseason (in a season where, especially after the acquisition of Tex, a World Series trip was expected), Teixeira managed a .467 batting average with a 1.017 OPS, contributing in some way at almost every turn.
In voting, Teixeira received one first-place vote, one fourth-place vote, one eighth-place vote, one ninth-place vote, and one tenth-place vote, for a total of 27 points.
Teixeira's acquisition, in a better light than the similar arrival of Vernon Wells, has been a gift that keeps on giving. And, for that, plus a semi-historic tenure in one-third of a season in an Angels uniform, we thank him and reward him with a 14th-place finish in our voting.