As outlined in the previous post, the Tigers would benefit A LOT from taking Teixeira from Texas. But what could Texas get for him?
Of course that depends on a few variables. Do they pair Tex with a bullpen arm? Are Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson back and playing well when the trigger is pulled on the trade? Is Tex injury free and in good form at the time of the trade? Are Tom Hicks and Little Jon DanielsHart finally going to be focused and smart enough to make a trade that benefits their team at least as much as the one they deal with (unlike recent deals with Milwaukee and San Diego)?
For the purposes of this post, let’s assume the answers to the last three questions are all yes (I know that’s a stretch for the last one). For the first question, let’s assume they trade Tex straight up, although a commenter to the previous post made a great point that adding Gagne (for contractual/financial/health reasons, it would be Gagne, not Otsuka) to the deal would make it extra rich for Detroit as they need bullpen help.
So who does Texas take for Tex?
First, Texas would have to take Sean Casey. The Tigers won’t carry an under-performng Casey (.341/.345/.280 with no HRs and only 19 RBIs in baseball’s most productive lineup this year) and Tex through the end of the year. Texas will do Detroit the favor of not forcing them to waste a roster spot or any AAA at-bats with Casey who’s contract ends this year. And, Casey may actually perform decently in the lefty-batter friendly Ballpark, although Comerica Park isn’t exactly unfriendly to lefty batters. Also, maybe Casey can share some wisdom for Jason Botts (if DanielsHart ever pulls his head out of his keister and gets Botts up to Arlington), who should get a shot at earning the 1B job for the long-term.
Next, the Rangers turn to the mound. Remember that Texas can’t develop pitching, so they don’t want to take any of the Tigers’ pure prospects. Texas needs pitchers who have developed past prospect status and already turned the corner into becomming a bonified major league pitcher.
That’s why the Rangers take Andew Miller. He’s a lefty, which the Rangers need and which matters in The Ballpark, who’s young but has already had some success at the Major League level. Texas would be better to get someone with at least a full year of major league starting experience, opposed to just two starts and some bullpen work last season. But Miller nearly made Detroit’s World Series roster, and all accounts have him on track to become a stud. He’s signed through 2009, which means the Rangers would get at least 2 meaningful years of service out of him. And, by the 2009 season, he and the Rangers could both be ready to reach new heights.
But wait, there’s more!
As Miller is just barely out of prospect status (actually he’s still listed as a prospect by Baseball America – #10), it’s going to take more for Texas to part with Tex. Casey’s a throw-away throw-in that amounts to addition by subtraction for the Tigers. And Teixeira for Miller straight up would be a Jon Hart caliber deal (that means it would suck for Texas). That’s why Texas also takes Zach Miner.
Too much, you say? Not if the Tigers really do want to win it all now and maybe next year. They need help at first base, and with no notable firstbasemen heading toward free agency this winter, 1b talent may demand a premium since there won’t be any good rent-a-player deals to be had. With the surprising emergence of Chad Durbin’s career-best early performance (he’d be the Rangers’ fall-back request if the Tigers balk at Miner), Zach’s already been relegated to the bullpen, even without Kenny Rogers in the rotation. So when Kenny returns and another starter loses their place in the Tigers’ rotation (likely Nate Robertson), then Zach’s heading backwards fast. The Tigers are hurting in the ‘pen, but when Joel Zumaya and Roman Colon return to health and Robertson heads to the ‘pen, they’ll be looking a lot better and can get by without Miner who can’t really be happy out there. Plus, the Tigers will still have chances to grab more relief help through another trade (or maybe this is where Gagne comes into the picture, but the Tigers would then need to add a decent near-ready outfield prospect – not quite Cameron Maybin, though).
So it comes down to this – are the Tigers willing to part with two pitchers who would never be more than 3rd or 4th in their starting rotation (that’s how loaded they are with starting pitching) to have a terrific shot at possibly two World Series titles?
I was in Detroit for my grandfather’s funeral last fall when the Tigers were making their post-season run. In fact, my family and I visited Comerica Park the afternoon of October 14th. Game 4 of the ALCS was scheduled that night, and downtown Detroit was already abuzz by late morning. Later that evening, I was watching the game at a bar playing quarter video poker in the MotorCity Casino while waiting for a seat at a Texas Hold ‘Em table when Magglio Ordonez hit his 3-run walk-off homer to complete the sweep of the A’s and send the Tigers to the World Series. The place went nuts. The city went nuts (but remarkably no cars were burned that night).
Detroit’s had a taste of what championship baseball feels like, and that can be addictive. I think they want to complete the worst to World Champions fairytale that the Cardinals rudely interrupted last year. And I think they may want two bites at that apple. With Tex adding switch-hitting power and a solid average to their lineup and Gold Glove defense at first base, I think the Tigers do the deal, and win at least one World Series because of it.
And, don’t discount the fact that Scott Boras, Teixeira’s agent, would probably love to see this deal happen. As most other contenders have first base covered, getting Tex probably the best opportunity available for him to ride in and make significant contributions to one or two championships would make his value skyrocket by his free agent winter in ’09 when the Yankees would be primed to snatch him up at a ridiculous price. (I don’t see the Yankees having what it would take to get Tex this season – and I don’t think Tex is ready to play in New York yet.) As much power as Boras weilds, his backdoor lobbying for this deal could help make it happen.
Meanwhile, the Rangers get two guys who may not headline, but could certainly anchor their rotation as at least real #2 and #3 pitchers. And with lots of free agent outfielders on the market this winter (Torri Hunter – having a career year in his FA season and on his way to a 7th straight Gold Glove - should be taming The Ballpark’s centerfield next season), the Rangers could turn things around quickly.
P.S. As the Tigers are my second favorite team and Tex is a favorite player of mine, this would thrill me on several levels. My favorite team gets back on track, while my second favorite team could win a ring or two with the help of a good guy in Tex who deserves better than to languish with the bottom-dwelling Rangers. And who knows, maybe we’ll have a new owner by 2009 who would be willing to pay to get Tex back here to help charge up the Rangers return to contention!