Five Recent Trades in Atlanta Braves History That Should Scare You
After reading one too many articles about trade ideas for the "desperate" Atlanta Braves, I figured it's time we took a journey back into franchise history and remembered the types of moves we've made in similar situations.
For every McGriff deal, there's been a Teixeira.
The deal may sound good at the time (finally! we got some offense!) but in a year you'll be kicking yourself for ever putting the idea out there.
I'm not saying don't trade Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson or similar frustrating types, all I'm saying is don't go crazy with knee-jerk reactions begging for the team to make a bold move.
Sometimes it can screw up a team for years.
1997: Jermaine Dye to the Kansas City Royals for Michael Tucker
After one breakout season with the Braves, outfielder Jermaine Dye was dealt to the Kansas City Royals in a deal that brought back IF Keith Lockhart and OF Michael Tucker.
Tucker spent two years with the Braves, tallying 27 HR and 102 RBI in that span. He was dealt to the Reds in a largely forgettable five-player trade after the 1998 season.
Lockhart never hit higher than .279 in six seasons with Atlanta.
Dye on the other hand has gone on to be as consistent (and underrated) a slugger as any in the game.
I distinctly remember my friends' displeasure with trading him, recalling that every time there was a big home run, it was the young Dye trotting around the bases.
In thirteen seasons since the trade, Dye has hit 301 HR for the Royals, Athletics and White Sox. Now at the age of 35, he has been involved in trade rumors regarding a return trip to Atlanta. If only he had never left.
1999: Ryan Klesko, Bret Boone to the San Diego Padres for Reggie Sanders, Wally Joyner
Why did the Braves feel compelled to pull the trigger on this one after the 1999 season?
Ryan Klesko was an Atlanta Braves staple and fan favorite for years. His over-the-top swing was emulated all the time by young players in the community (see Prince Fielder's cut for similarity).
Klesko was coming off a 1999 season in which he had 21 HR, 80 RBI and hit .297. He hit 141 HR in over six seasons with Atlanta, and was poised to be one of the young studs to stay in town for years.
Though never a bastion of health, Klesko did go on to enjoy career years in San Diego. In 2001 he posted 30 HR and career highs in RBI (113), runs (105) and stolen bases (23, matching his 2000 total).
Since Klesko's departure, the Braves have had nine different opening day starters at first base.
Bret Boone's only full season with Atlanta was 1999, slugging 20 HR and scoring 102 runs. 2000 was his contract year, after which he signed with the Seattle Mariners. In 2001, Boone hit 37 HR, drove in 141 runs and scored 118.
Reggie Sanders barely gets mentioned as he only played 103 games for the Braves in 2000, hitting a career-worst 11 HR.
2002: Kevin Millwood to the Philadelphia Phillies for Johnny Estrada
This one must still have people scratching their heads.
After losing Javy Lopez to free agency, the Braves needed a replacement catcher to start and to hit. Henry Blanco was viewed more as a backup option, so Estrada was brought in to provide a better bat behind the plate.
Makes good enough sense, right?
In order to acquire Estrada, the Braves sent one of their best pitchers in Millwood to a division rival in Philadelphia.
Millwood, an 18-game winner in 2002, was only 27-years old and locked in as one of the Braves best young arms behind the big-name veterans Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux.
Estrada, an All-Star for the Braves in 2004, was deemed expendable after the 2005 season following the emergence of Brian McCann.
Millwood has only gone on to enjoy three double-digit winning seasons since the trade, but even in hindsight this one was questionable. Maddux and Glavine were entering their contract years, Millwood just finished his second 18-win season, and Henry Blanco wasn't exactly a slouch behind the plate.
That the Braves valued Estrada as equal to Millwood is even more the head-scratcher. Though it didn't break the bank, so to speak, it wouldn't be the first time the Braves weren't shy to deal one of their top young arms.
2003: Adam Wainwright, Jason Marquis to the St. Lous Cardinals for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero
I was in Orlando to take in some Spring Training before the 2003 season, grabbing dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in the town of Celebration. Not only was the food delicious, but Braves players frequented the restaurant while in town.
I remember looking up that night and seeing Leo Mazzone walking past the tables alongside a monstrously big man. Clearly a younger player, he commanded the room, filling the space between the tables as he strode past.
I turned to my brother, excited that we saw Mazzone. He said to me, that must have been Adam Wainwright, one of our top young pitchers. Wow, I thought, and I got to see him grabbing some pasta!
Sadly enough for most Braves fans, they never got to see him alongside Leo Mazzone. Wainwright never pitched a game for the Braves at the big-league level before being shipped to St. Louis along with Jason Marquis for everyone's favorite injury-prone outfielder: J.D. "Nancy" Drew.
While Drew posted the best season of his career in Atlanta (in his only season), Wainwright has gone on to close out the 2006 World Series-clinching game and become the ace of the Cardinals staff, winning 33 games with an ERA under 3.50.
Jason Marquis won 42 games in three seasons with the Cardinals, scored a big contract with the Cubs, and now in his first season with Colorado leads the National League in wins.
But hey, at least we got Eli Marrero for 90 games too.
2007: Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison to the Texas Rangers for Mark Teixeira
This one stings a lot right now.
In a last-ditch effort to acquire an impact bat (amid the downfall of Andruw Jones), GM John Schuerholz made his final major trade by bringing in 1B Mark Teixeira.
One of the game's best young sluggers, Teixeira would have commanded a high price from any team. Though he was only under contract for another year and a half.
Atlanta gave up its shortstop of the future in Andrus, their backup catcher/first baseman of the future in Saltalamacchia, and two of their best young pitching prospects in Feliz and Harrison.
Though too soon to accurately judge the impact of this trade, Andrus has excelled in his rookie season in Texas, Feliz remains the Rangers' top pitching prospect, and Harrison showed glimpses of stardom before landing on the DL.
The Teixeira experiment was a big gamble for the Braves, and they went all in to land him. In his one full season, he put up big numbers (37 HR, 134 RBI), but was not the clutch power bat that would vault them back into the playoffs.
In 2008, during his contract year, Tex was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels for 1B Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steve Marek.
Just imagine if Adam LaRoche were never dealt to the Pirates before the 2007 season. The Scott Thorman experiment would not have happened, and Teixeira may never have come to town. But then again, we'd be stuck with Adam LaRoche.