It might be that the Texas Rangers view the Braves as their chosen source of talent and so we welcome our American League affiliates. Our locals have made some horrendous deals in their time. Such stars as Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis have been sent packing — John Schuerholz has said that that is the worst deal he ever made, and who is to dispute the club president? (Remember, what he got in return was J.D. Drew, a nomad who was just passing through, not to mention the silent Cuban, Eli Marrero.)
However, there is a colony of unofficial judges who would dispute him, I among them. When he ransacked the farm storehouse to bring Mark Teixeira to town in 2007, what he did was fill out the Rangers’ scorecard for seasons to come. This was the deal: Teixeira and a nameless pitcher — oh, he had a name, but Ron Mahay has had several other addresses since then — in exchange for five developing players just ripe for plucking, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones. And you might have come to the conclusion that these were bricks in the foundation of the Rangers’ World Series team last season.
Andrus was the American League all-star shortstop. Feliz was the league’s rookie of the year. Harrison has spent a lot time in medical care but has a record of 21-l5 when his arm has been fit. Saltalamacchia beyond stretching the backs of uniforms to the limit, has found a home with the Red Sox after the Rangers traded him. Right now he ranks fourth in balloting among catchers for the American League All-Star team.
I should add that Beau Jones was no great catch. He is an outfielder who hasn't developed, not that it was expected. He was merely a throw-in, but there you are, a clean swipe across the Braves’ upper echelon of prospects. Meanwhile, Teixeira scrapes by with the Yankees on an $80 million contract, which is pretty high-priced stuff for a .251 hitter.
Look, not all deals work out the way they shape up in the minds of the dealers. After Teixeira passed through, the Braves later turned around and invested $62 million in a second baseman who was hitting .171 at latest notice. Schuerholz had been succeeded by Frank Wren by this time, and Dan Uggla was Wren’s biggest gamble.
There’s a lot of season left before the Braves get a bottom line on this deal. The thing is, they still have a hand in the race and nobody is panicking over the Uggla contract, including Uggla. He goes on about his daily duty with elan, hits a few home runs now and then and gives his new bosses a good day’s work.
In no way is the deal for Teixeira ever going to lose its place in the Braves’ Hall of Blunders. As for the Wainwright gambit, see what’s going on with the Cardinals. His arm exploded, he’s out for the season, and apparently so are the Cardinals.
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.