Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And So It Ends...

With all of the sadness of hearing its Tuesday, Mark Teixeira has left DFW.

I like the deal, but perhaps I just like the fact that it had to happen, and the fact that according to most, the bounty that returns was very reasonable.

Regardless, the passionless tenure of Teixeira will easily be forgotten. Sorry. I wish I was being harsh, but he was helping pilot the plane that nearly never left the airport while he was here. Not all his fault, but his legacy is nothing to tell your Grandchildren about.

As opposed to acting like I know anything about most of these kids they got back, here are some views from around the world of baseball:

Baseball America

The Braves get a needed lefty reliever and the best player on the trade market in Teixeira, a player who can help offset the potential loss of Andruw Jones as a free agent. Teixeira returns to the scene of his college career; he was the College Player of the Year in 2000 as a sophomore at Georgia Tech. He improves the Braves' worst position as much as possible. The Mets and Phillies made moves, too, and set the stage for what should be an outstanding National League East race. Atlanta gave up its best prospects to get Teixeira, who can become a free agent after the 2008 season, and if they can make the playoffs--still a big if--they would have to be considered the favorite due to their experience, 1-2 pitching punch of John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, and imposing, American League-caliber lineup. The Rangers got a potential franchise building block in Saltalamacchia, a polished lefthander at Double-A in Harrison and lots of projection--a good haul for a player of Teixeira's stature and contract status.

ESPN Insider

The Rangers arguably got three of Atlanta's top five prospects, with only outfielders Brandon Jones and Jordan Schafer staying in the Atlanta system. The prize is Saltalamacchia, who recovered from a lost 2006 season to re-establish himself as one of the best prospects in baseball. In a perfect world, he's an offensive catcher, a switch-hitter with power and a great batting eye. He has a similar description at the plate to Teixeira, and although Saltalamacchia doesn't have Teixeira's raw power, Saltalamacchia has a much better swing from the left side, making him a good fit for that Texas ballpark. As a catcher, he's a potential All-Star.

The main question on Saltalamacchia is his ultimate position. He's listed at 6-foot-4, which is unusually tall for a catcher; taller catchers have tended to either move off the position or to get hurt, often with knee trouble because the strain placed on a catcher's knees increases with his height. Making matters worse, he's still unpolished behind the plate, with a plus arm but sloppy actions and footwork issues. If he does stay behind the plate, Saltalamacchia now gives Texas a surfeit of catching, making Gerald Laird and possibly either Taylor Teagarden (arguably the best catching prospect in the minors right now) or Max Ramirez expendable. When you have bigger needs, like pitching, extra catching is a luxury.

Elvis Andrus is one of the youngest players in any full-season league, and he was the youngest regular in any full-season league last year. That's important when considering his track record, which isn't impressive; he's been advanced so quickly that he's never played at a level appropriate to his skill set, and has spent 2007 facing pitchers three or four years his senior. While his performance isn't impressive, his tools are. He has good bat speed, and despite a general lack of control in his swing, he squares up and the ball really flies off his bat. In the field he shows a natural flair for the shortstop spot, with soft hands, a plus arm and good range in both directions. What he lacks in instincts at the plate he makes up for with his instincts on defense. This is a great upside play for Texas, as long as the Rangers slow him down instead of promoting him without regard to his results the way that Atlanta did.

Jon Heyman

The gambling Braves enhanced their chances to win this year and next with their trade for All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira. But the six-player blockbuster was a coup for the Rangers, as well.

Atlanta looks much more threatening as Teixeira joins forces with Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones. The Braves, though 4 1/2 games out in the NL East and barely above .500, must be viewed as a contender now -- although they still look like they're a starting pitcher or two short.

But for Texas there's no downside to this deal. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is considered a big-time hitting prospect, though the Braves' underuse of him lately is curious. Beyond having a hard-to-spell name, Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter with power (much like Teixeira).

Rangers GM Jon Daniels was under the gun after a couple of his big trades went awry the past few years, but it says a lot about him that he didn't allow his previous failures to paralyze him. And according to GM's around the game, Daniels acquitted himself nicely with the trade of Teixeira and veteran reliever Ron Mahay for Saltalamacchia, two more premium prospects and a third unnamed prospect. Teixeira, remember, is due to become a free agent after next season and there was little chance that the Rangers could have signed him to a long-term deal.

In addition to Saltalamacchia, who was an accomplished minor-league hitter, the Rangers will also receive blue-chip shortstop prospect Elvis Andrus and reportedly top young pitching prospect Neftali Feliz as well as one more prospect, the last two being added to the deal to take the place of pitcher Matt Harrison, who had arm issues that concerned the Rangers.

While one GM offered a dissenting opinion on Saltalamacchia in this space yesterday and another questioned his defense on Monday, several executives who weighed in over the past 24 hours expressed their admiration for Salty and his skills. "We love him. A big switch hitting catcher .... What's not to love?'' one GM said.

With Salty obviously available in recent days, there were rumors of teams making a play for him to spin him off to the Rangers. But no, one GM insisted, "If we could get Salty, we'd keep him for ourselves.''

Still other GMs praised Andrus (though he's 18 and years away) and Feliz (who's 19). The GM who dissented here yesterday on Salty and said that the Rangers "aren't getting what they think they're getting'' expressed some reservations about Saltalamacchia's defense. But others love his bat enough to outweigh any defensive questions.

While Salty is generally beloved, there are still a few issues to consider, such as ...

1) It's a little disconcerting that Braves manager Bobby Cox benched Salty in favor of elderly and weak-hitting Julio Franco. It's possible that the Braves were only protecting Salty from injury so his trade value didn't decrease.

2) The Braves have a rep for never making a mistake on a young player. They aren't perfect, however, having once traded pitcher Jason Schmidt. They also have been willing to make fair deals to get the players whom they believe can put them over the top, such as when they exchanged Jason Marquis and Adam Wainwright for J.D. Drew.

3) This last consideration may not bother many, but Salty has an unusual family situation. Now 21, he married a teacher at his high school in West Palm Beach, Fla., who is now 37, according to records. His wife Ashley, who recently gave birth to their second child, insisted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that their personal relationship didn't begin until the fall of 2004, when Salty was 18.

The Rangers apparently are aware of Salty's unusual family situation and are said to believe he's maturing. Besides, switch-hitting catchers are hard to come by.

Jamey Newberg

I'm not here to predict that this deal will produce for Texas what Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to Montreal for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Lee Stevens gave Cleveland five years ago, but this is a remarkable return, given all the factors at play.

Are the Rangers done? Chances are that Daniels has another move or two in him before this afternoon's 3:00 trade deadline. The rumored deal that would send Octavio Dotel from Kansas City to the Braves helps Texas in that teams that were in on Dotel may now be turning their attention to Gagné. The good thing as far as Gagné is concerned is we're virtually assured of getting two picks in the first two rounds if we keep him and he leaves via free agency, so that's where the trade offers begin -- prospect(s) that are worth more to us than two premium draft picks. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, and Brewers are reportedly showing interest.

The Dodgers had shown interest in Joaquin Benoit as part of a Teixeira deal -- would Los Angeles part with someone like outfielder Andre Ethier or minor league closer Jonathan Meloan, two players rumored to be involved in the Teixeira talks, in a one-for-one deal for Benoit?

I'm still saying a prayer for the Mets to decide they will be marginally better off with Sammy Sosa.

If Daniels adds Ramirez, Saltalamacchia, Andrus, Feliz, Harrison, and another prospect or two for Gagné and/or Benoit this week, and if the Rangers get deals done with first-rounders Beavan and Neil Ramirez and some other relatively high unsigned picks in the next two weeks, and if the organization adds a handful of high-ceiling Latin American teenagers this summer as it has the past few years, this farm system is going to look amazingly different from the way it looked when the season started.

But so will the big league lineup, which for the next two months will feature Jarrod Saltalamacchia at-bats that once belonged to Mark Teixeira. I'm looking forward to seeing Saltalamacchia injected into the order, hopefully along with Jason Botts, but to be honest I'm not sure how it will feel not to have Teixeira there as a fixture, as the Rangers' most feared weapon.

I know this, though: a Teixeira trade had become virtually inevitable, and from that standpoint I'm excited about what Jon Daniels pulled off. I'm looking forward to checking those Elvis Andrus box scores in Bakersfield and those Neftali Feliz short-season pitching lines, and to imagining what my team's roster could look like two years from now, when Saltalamacchia could be part of the Rangers' identity, and Teixeira may very well be in pinstripes or adorned by an orange and black bird, as the Braves work to try and sign the two draft picks they received when Teixeira left for the Coast.

CJ Wilson

good job JD- you just saved us 12 million dollars that we can spend next year on a stud pitcher, or a centerfielder. I like the move a lot.

i'm sorry to all the fans that loved mark- but he always wanted to play for atlanta anyway- he loves living there, and went to school there, and his wife's family is from there...and he's going to be too expensive for us to keep and still sign guys that we need to sign.

part of the business!

In other news, not that there is too much, David Beckham will not visit Frisco tonight ...

It was a marketing dream for FC Dallas: David Beckham, international star athlete with Hollywood appeal, scheduled to make an appearance at Pizza Hut Park.

But it has turned into a nightmare.

Beckham not only won't be playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy in tonight's SuperLiga match against FC Dallas – he won't even be in attendance. The Galaxy arrived in town Monday night without Beckham, who didn't make the trip because of an injured left ankle.

Anticipation for Beckham's appearance had spurred ticket sales for the game. Standing-room only tickets were all that remained for the match at Pizza Hut Park, which seats 20,500.

"For those fans that were coming out to see David and that was the only reason why, we're going to figure out a way to make this up to them," FC Dallas president and general manager Michael Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said the team will soon announce a special ticket offer for the next Galaxy-FC Dallas game at Pizza Hut Park for fans who purchased tickets for tonight's game through the team or through Ticketmaster.

"I do believe there is going to be plenty of opportunities to see Beckham in the future," he said.

The club had built a campaign based on Beckham's arrival to boost interest in the match. The visit for SuperLiga, a tournament between MLS and Mexican clubs, was to be Beckham's only one to the area this season.

Some fans paid double the price of a ticket for a regular-season FC Dallas game, and others purchased tickets online for as much as $265.

"The people who are only buying tickets because of one player are getting what they deserved," said Travis Bell, president of FC Dallas' unofficial fan club, the Inferno.

FC Dallas pushed for an 11th-hour resolution that would have brought Beckham to Dallas, even if just to wave at the crowd.

But Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said it was best for his club for Beckham to stay in Los Angeles and receive treatment for his injured ankle.

Until Beckham can train with his teammates, Yallop insists on resting his star, whose ankle remained swollen Monday, keeping him off the practice field.

"We are trying our best to get him healthy. We are not going to force anybody to play when they're not right," Yallop said.

Beckham has played just 16 minutes since debuting with the Galaxy in a friendly against English club Chelsea on July 21. He has missed Los Angeles' SuperLiga matches against Mexican clubs Chivas and Pachuca.

FC Dallas manager Steve Morrow said if he were in Yallop's place, he would have allowed Beckham to travel.

"Beckham is here to sell tickets as well. They have to accept that responsibility," he said. "As a coach, I would have to recognize that everybody is expecting to see him."

Billboards with Beckham's image have been advertising his arrival. But most were removed by Monday. A ticker counting down the hours left until the match was also scratched from FC Dallas' Web site.

Team vice president for marketing Jeff Busch said he believes FC Dallas used the right approach in selling the match.

"We were promoting the fact that this world-known superstar is officially on this team and has a chance of playing here," Busch said. "It's part of the league strategy of having these designated players, the same with Chicago with [Mexican star] Cuauhemoc Blanco."

Freddy Adu goes to Portugal

American teenage soccer star Freddy Adu has reached an agreement to play for Portuguese club Benfica, pending the results of a medical test.

"It's a done deal," a club official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to make an announcement.

The official said details of the agreement, including the length of the contract, would be announced at a later date but could not say when.

Adu joined the rest of the Benfica squad at a training session Tuesday, a day after arriving in the Portuguese capital to negotiate personal terms, and was undergoing medical checks, the official said. There were no immediate plans to introduce the player to the media.

Major League Soccer and Benfica agreed last week to a $2 million transfer fee for the 18-year-old attacking midfielder, who was captain of the U.S. team at this month's under-20 World Cup in Canada.

Adu has been one of the highest-profile stars of MLS since he signed with D.C. United in November 2003 at age 14, becoming the youngest player in the league's history.

Real Salt Lake acquired Adu from D.C. United last year knowing that when he turned 18 last month he would become eligible under FIFA rules to move to a foreign club.
Benfica has traditionally been one of Europe's stronger clubs, but has been unable to match the spending of teams in wealthier leagues such as England, Italy and Spain. Benfica finished third in the Portuguese league last season behind Porto and Sporting Lisbon.

Benfica will start play in the European Champions League in the third qualifying round on Aug. 14 or 15.

Bill Walsh, 75

Bill Walsh's legacy as a football man was always outsized, especially in these parts. He didn't make the Bay Area a football-first geographic zone, he didn't invent the 49ers as an important cog in the local culture and he didn't create the West Coast Offense out of whole cloth. We did mythologize him nearly to the point of caricature, just as we mythologized Al Davis and Buck Shaw and Pappy Waldorf and Andy Smith and all the other great football innovators in Bay Area history.

But if any of the others deserved it, so did he. He defined a three-decade era of football thought, characters and results, which renders his achievements extraordinary, and makes his passing all the more visceral.

Walsh had been in poor health for some time, fighting leukemia mostly in private. Thus, he is remembered as he was at his apex - the leonine head, the professorial voice that hid a coach's gift for ruthlessness, the pride in the ideas that bore his name, and the coaching tree that led back to Davis and Paul Brown, and forward to Brian Billick, Mike Holmgren and Tony Dungy. He was an epochal figure in the history of the game, he looked every bit the part, and he took care to leave that as the world's lasting memory.

His story has been told down to a fine gray dust - as a player who wasn't quite as good as he'd hoped he could be, as an eager coach who worked for and learned from the grandest minds of the '50s and '60s, as a middle-aged man who feared he would be stuck on an assistant's track for life, as the coach who jump-started Stanford, revivified and then immortalized the 49ers of the '80s, as the man who nurtured the
next generation of coaching talent.

He was also a complex man, well-read, solicitous, and curious about things beyond the 6,400-square-yard box in which he made his living and his reputation. Yet, at his core, he was the prototypical man of combat. He loved boxing, he was an avid reader of books about generals, and believed in the inherent truths of competition. That flew in the face of his reputation, largely unfair, that he was an effete, ethereal poser, not made of true coach's cloth.

Well, truth is he did like to cast the image of the grander thinker, the great conceptual artist, the whistled humanitarian, even the wry comedian. But he was very much a coach, with a coach's eye for skills, both ascendant and waning; for personalities, dominant and compliant; for the separate pieces and the greater whole; for strategies and tactics, for grace and brutishness - all the things that separate football from a bar fight. He built, dissembled and rebuilt with cold, remorseless precision, and his ruthlessness did not always sit well with those pointed toward the door.

It's what George Halas did, and Curly Lambeau, and Brown (his original mentor), and Vince Lombardi, and Davis, and Chuck Noll, and John Madden, and Tom Landry, and Jimmy Johnson, and Bill Parcells, and Bill Belichick. It's what they all do, and if there is another way to be successful at the football game, it hasn't been tried long enough by anyone of enduring consequence. Bill Walsh was driven to succeed, and he did it the way he'd been taught by his forbears, and passed along to his descendants.

I get asked all of the time how to listen to the Ticket on your mobile phone. First, you need a phone that can do it, but then you will need this link:


It works very well….

Here is a good baseball essay on the stat lines for each position around baseball …if you are a baseball nerd, it might be interesting to you…otherwise, keep scrolling…

Email Time:


I was in DC on business this week and decided to get into town a little early to check out the sites. Among the landmarks I viewed was that piece of crap RFK. The Nats were in town on the weekend hosting the Rockies so I took the subway which drops you right at the ballpark. Not having a ticket, a purchased a single scalped ticket four rows behind home plate for $40 (face value $120). Attached is a picture I took of Bacsik during his very impressive 6.2 IP scoreless effort.

After wriggling out of trouble in the sixth, Mike took his trademark slow saunter back to the dugout. With the place pretty much an empty cavern, my not-even-very-loud exclamation of “BaD Radio Sucks” prompted an acknowledgement in the form of a look in my general direction. Since I didn’t have anyone at the game with me, and I was tired of keeping to myself, I started lying to everyone in my general vicinity, telling them that I was neighbors with his parents back in Dallas. The info I have learned about Mike from you guys pretty much gave me enough bull to keep up the façade through the entire game.

Thanks for the material,

Mike at the Mixmaster

Very Young Beckham from mid field

Failure to Communicate

Prison does Thriller


MK said...

Inquiring minds want to know: what does Salty's 37 year old teacher wife look like? I say as soon as he hits 25 homers in a season he trades up.

Jay said...

What we have here is a failure to Sturminate.

Jake said...

Congrats Jay on your impressive Dad joke. Not a big fan of the Salty nickname, may I nominate Saltamachhiavelli? Rock me.

TheDude said...

I see Cool Hand Luke, but this is what I think of, from ~1991:

"Look at your young men fighting
Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying
The way they've always done before..."