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No small consolation

Rangers did well for themselves in Teixeira trade

Posted: Monday July 30, 2007 11:51AM; Updated: Monday July 30, 2007 5:43PM
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Jarrod Saltalamacchia's defense has been questioned but there is little doubt that he can be a productive hitter.
AP
Trade Deadline 2007
FROM SI.COM
HEYMAN: Winners, losers, grades from deadline
SMITH: Top eight prospects to change hands
HEYMAN: Red Sox, Rangers agree on Gagne trade
HEYMAN: Giants swap Morris for Pirates outfielder
SHEEHAN: Analyzing Teixeira, Castillo trades
HEYMAN: Padres acquire White Sox OF Mackowiak
HEYMAN: Yanks, Dodgers trade Proctor for Betemit
HEYMAN: Rangers get nice haul for Teixeira
HEYMAN: Braves trade for Teixeira, pursue Dotel
HEYMAN: Mets get Gold Glover Castillo from Twins
REACT: Are the Red Sox World Series favorites?
Photos: Best midseason acquisitions ever
QUINTONG: How will Teixeira impact your league?
FROM THE WIRES
Nationals keep Cordero, stand pat at deadline
Mariners ship troubled Mateo to Philadelphia
Braves get Dotel from Royals; Teixeira deal official
Busy Padres make three deals before deadline
Red Sox send Pineiro to Cards for minor leaguer

Also in this column:
• Mets chasing Nats' Cordero
• Vlad's post-Derby slump
• Dye boosts trade value
• More news and notes

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.

Around the Majors

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• According to sources, the Mets' chances to acquire Chad Cordero are diminished by their refusal to trade any of their superb young outfielders, Lastings Milledge (the Mets' best hitter lately), Carlos Gomez (an Omar Minaya favorite) and Fernando Martinez (perhaps the best hitter of the three). But they aren't giving up in their effort to land the Nationals' closer.

• There should be a market for Sammy Sosa. In a year in which homers are down, he would provide a team with some pop. It's as if teams aren't looking at his numbers (16 homers, 70 RBIs).

• The Yankees are still reluctant to surrender one of their top pitching prospects for Eric Gagne, but they and the Mets are about the only two contending teams over which Gagne, who would prefer to close, doesn't have trade veto power (the 12 teams to which he can be traded consist mostly of also-rans such as the Pirates, Reds, Royals and Nats). Kyle Farnsworth (two runs allowed in one mop-up inning) once again showed on Sunday why the Yankees need Gagne.

Jermaine Dye's three homers in five games should help the White Sox's efforts to deal him. The Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres and Angels could be in the mix, though Anaheim's main interest would be for a corner infielder.

• The Tigers are still looking for relief after four blown saves this week (not to mention an old-fashioned whipping at the hands of Anaheim, which outscored Detroit 34-13 in a three-game sweep). Although, they have to be heartened in the knowledge that Fernando Rodney's returning soon. They hope Joel Zumaya is, too.

• With no major threat behind him in the lineup, Vladimir Guerrero has gone 27 straight games without homering. That's 13 games before he won the Home Run Derby and 14 since. It's this kind of thing that will prevent others from entering the Derby in the future.

• If Arizona had any thoughts of trading Livan Hernandez, he didn't help matters in a 14-0 defeat to the Braves on Sunday, when he allowed eight runs in four innings.

• Folks think the Padres did well with the three prospects they got for Scott Linebrink. As for the Brewers, their quiet trade with Tampa Bay for Seth McClung can't hurt. McClung, 26, saved six games for Tampa last year (you'd think that would have been enough to force the D-Rays, who have almost no bullpen, to give him a shot). McClung was one of the many D-Rays who could use some seasoning, but he does throw in the high 90s.

• The Astros have told some teams that they will keep Chad Qualls now that they have traded Dan Wheeler.

• Has anyone ever fallen faster than Morgan Ensberg? Fourth in the MVP voting in 2005, he's basically a giveaway now that he's been designated for assignment by Houston.

• Funny that on another lost day for Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez as they shoot for milestone home runs, Jason Tyner, the tiny Twin, hit his first homer in 1,220 career at-bats.

• It is only fitting that Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., two players who played their whole career with their hometown team, went into Cooperstown together.

• It's a nice touch that they put writers in the Hall of Fame. But what about executives? And what about former union leader Marvin Miller? He leveled the financial playing field and had an enormous effect on the game. He should be in there. Not to denigrate any of my fellow baseball scribes, but did any of them impact baseball more than Miller?

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