For the second year in a row, Mark Teixeira was one of the most sought-after players at the Major League non-wavers trading deadline as a result of his impending free-agency and the reputation of his unrelenting agent, Scott Boras.
First, last summer, the Texas Rangers dealt Teixeira along with reliever Ron Mahay to the Atlanta Braves for a handful of prospects, including Jerrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus when they came to the realization that signing their first-baseman after 2008 would be impossible. Yes, this came from the franchise owned by Tom Hicks, the man who outbid all other teams by 100 million and signed Alex Rodriguez to that infamous ten-year, 252 million dollar contract prior to the 2001 season. Interestingly enough, the agent that decided the record-setting contract wasn’t lucrative enough for his client and opted out of the contract last fall was none other than Boras.
Now that the 2008 Braves are out of contention and decided to deal Teixeira as well, rather join the bidding war for the free-agent first baseman this winter that Boras says will start at ten years and 200 million. Teixeira now finds himself with the Angels. Bur for how long?
Many are speculating that on the open market Teixeira could fetch all the way up to ten years and 230 million dollars for his services Unbelievably, this would dwarf all contracts ever given out to anyone not named Alex Rodriguez. This would narrow out just about all teams in Major League Baseball except the typical big spenders in free agency: The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Angels and perhaps the Dodgers and Tigers. Of these teams, only the Yankees, Mets and Angels will have possible openings at first base this winter.
The question is whether or not any of these teams should even consider such a deal for the slugging infielder.
While it is true that Teixeira is an extremely productive hitter, clubbing 37 dingers and driving in 134 in his 157 games (more than anyone except Ryan Howard in that span) as a Brave and hits at least 30 homeruns each year, he is simply overrated.
Despite his two AL Gold Gloves being accounted for, it is very hard for anyone who follows baseball to even consider putting the former Georgia Tech Bulldog in his or her top five at his position. Names such as Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Derrek Lee, Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, and Miguel Cabrera are all arguably equal or better than Teixeira.
While those first three names are indisputable, Gonzalez has taken his punchless team to the playoffs multiple times while putting up comparable stats to Tex while playing in a ballpark with the dimensions of Yellowstone. Lee also took his team to the playoffs, has won a ring, beat out Tex for the Gold Glove in the NL last year and is nearly equal to Teixeira on offense if you factor in his speed.
For Fielder, he has had about as bad of a season individually as he can have and he still is hitting better. Fielder’s 50 homer season last year puts him over the top though. Morneau’s stats are a bit below Teixeira, but he won an MVP in 2006 and has been a cornerstone for a postseason team for a few years. Teixeira has only played a handful of games in September in his career that meant anything, and none in October. Cabrera, also with a ring under his belt, is a far superior hitter to Teixeira and despite his slow season so far, this shouldn’t even be an argument.
Furthermore, Teixeira has been named to just one All-Star game in his six seasons despite not playing in the same league as Pujols, Berkman or Howard by the time the All-Star game was played until this season.
The point in making these arguments is that first base is a position in the major leagues where there are many, many great players. There certainly is no shortage of top-talent here like there is at more skilled positions such as catcher, middle infield or third base. As a result, Teixeira has plenty of competition and although he made it into my top ten at his position, he sure didn’t do it by the widest of margins.
This article is not to say Teixeira isn’t a great player, but he is being overrated to the point where it is utterly ridiculous. A reasonable amount for him would probably be something similar to the deal Carlos Lee was given by Houston for 6 years at 100 million. The two are on equal footing as hitters, with Lee being able to swipe some bases and Teixeira playing good defense, but the idea of him getting a deal of double that is completely mind-boggling.
Before anyone finds it okay to throw the second biggest contract in baseball history at this guy, shouldn’t it be a prerequisite that he get his name punched for the Midsummer Classic a bit more often than getting picked once every six years?