Tex is a truly primo hitter. But there was no denying that his time with the Texas Rangers was limited, as the tick-tock of the 2008 offseason came inexorably closer. Dealing him was the only possible move, there was nothing to gain by hanging on to Teixeira if we are led to believe that the team is rebuilding.
Let me preface all this by saying that I have nothing against Teixeira as a person. Aside from a little hissy fit he threw over a harmless Dan McDowell comment, I haven't known him to be anything other than warm, open, and... nondescript. He hasn't been an off-the-field headline maker in the mold of local athletes like Terrell Owens. And he's been highly productive on the diamond, putting up numbers that lend to comparisons with the game's historical giants (Check his baseball reference if you don't believe me). Now he can do all that for a contender.
Let's address the pieces coming back for Teixeira. Jarrod 'soon-to-be-nicknamed' Saltalamacchia is a 23 year old switch-hitting catcher/first baseman who is said to have one of the smoothest swings out there. He's a high-upside guy who does everything offensively; hits for power, hits for average, does not strike out with too much frequency, and takes a decent amount of walks. He was initially thought of as mediocre defensively, but has reportedly worked hard to alleviate those worries. Most projections have him producing at about 85% of Tex's level.
Elvis Andrus is an 18-year old Carribean phenom that signed on with Atlanta at the tender age of sixteen. He's a slick fielder hitting in the .250 area in High A. Amongst other things, he's a fleet-footed six-footer who is said to possess 5 tools. His ceiling is sky-high, comparisons to Jose Reyes and Edgar Renteria are a dime a dozen. But he could just as easily become Joaquin Arias.
Matt Harrison is a 20 year old who has put up good ERA and WHIP numbers everywhere he's been. He's not a heavy strikeout guy, but will not walk inordinately many hitters either. A key stat: He allows only one home run throughout an average of 18 and a third innings. Another contributing factor: Harrison's a lefty. He recently injured his shoulder, but the MRI came back negative. Harrison has been compared to Tom Glavine, although I remain highly skeptical that he'll be anywhere near that echelon. He should be a decent 2 or 3 if he pans out. He's not as good as, say, Eric Hurley-but will probably hold the same value as a Kasey Kiker.
Feliz is kargely an unknown commodity. I wasn't able to find much info on the 19 year old righthander, but Braves fans did inform me that he has a fastball that can touch three numerals. That alone could allow him to pull a Bobby Jenks and close if he ever makes it up to the big leagues, but if he develops some secondary pitches and makes sure his head is securely fastened, he could become something special.
As of this afternoon, the Rangers acquired a FIFTH player in this deal. Beau Jones was selected in the first round of 2005 out of high school and is a lefthander who specializes in heat. He had a high level of success in A ball, but has struggled in High A.
Conclusion: This was a win-win. Atlanta has to win NOW, and they've put themselves in great position to overtake the ailing Mets by adding a primo bat and glove at first base as well as a very reliable lefty bullpen arm. The Rangers' priority is rebuilding, and by adding a promising 22 year old ready to step up to a starting job as well as some very promising players still unable to legally drink, they've facilitated that need. Many will tell me that Kotchman/Saunders was the better deal seeing as both are ready to step in and contribute right away, but I don't buy it. And don't bother quoting me Loney-Kershaw-Meloan, that was a pipe dream.
Jon Daniels, I approve.