Braves a Fade After Teixeira Trade
by Robert Ferringo - 07/30/2008
Monday I wrote a story discussing the impact of Major League trades from the perspective of clubs that are surrendering the better player in the deal. I, personally, thought it was a bad story and a bit convoluted. Click Here to check it out yourself.
But my point in that article - if I wasn't clear on it - was that it may be easier to make a buck betting against the team that is giving up the feature piece in the deal than it will be trying to piggy back on the strong team that has gotten stronger.
We now have a perfect example with the Braves trading Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday for Casey Kotchman and some scrub minor league arm. Now, the Angels are likely going to see a sizeable bump in their prices following the deal. (Incredibly enough, they are HUGE dogs today to the Red Sox. This is so unusual that I can't even describe it. Normally after making a blockbuster move like acquiring Big Tex that team would be a monster chalk for at least a week or so afterwards. Just ask the 2007 Braves.)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the Angels - Wednesday aside - are going to see their prices skyrocket. And they are a better team with Teixeira in the lineup than Kotchman, who was a solid stick in his own right. But I say that instead of trying to roll with the Angels - the rich team getting richer - I think your best bet to earn will be by fading the Atlanta Braves.
The trading of Teixeira is a tremendous statement made by Braves brass. Yes, they needed to unload Teixeira now because with their budget they know they aren't going to be able to give him the deal he's looking for in the open market this winter. The Braves had to get something for him. But it's bigger than that. This move is a clear statement that Atlanta's front office does not see this team as a legitimate threat this year. And I feel that this move is going to have a ripple effect in the psyche of the Braves.
Think about it: in the last 72 hours the Braves lost their three best bats. Chipper is on the D.L. Brian McCann is sitting out with a concussion he sustained on Sunday. And now Tex is traded. That is a TREMENDOUS blow to this lineup and that clubhouse. They had Mark Friggin' Kotsay hitting cleanup the other day for chrissakes! Atlanta is still going to get some respect from oddsmakers and squares simply because they are the Braves. However, right now this lineup is one of the worst in the National League. Their bullpen is garbage, they are relying on Mike Hampton for innings as a starter, and they just lost their one legit ace (Tim Hudson) for the year. Things are not good.
Also, and this is a more subtle piece of collateral damage from the trade: with the trade of Teixeira, a local boy, the Atlanta fan base was just given the green light to mail it in for the season as well. Atlanta sports fans are some of the worst in the country. And now that Braves management made a move that crippled their club's chance of being competitive the Atlanta market will now completely shift its attention to the Georgia Bulldogs, the true love of this area. The Braves had been tough at home. But now with sparse crowds and little area support I think even that advantage will be lost.
Further, the schedule in August offers a bloody gauntlet for thee Braves.
Atlanta will wrap up a four-game set with the Cardinals on Thursday before welcoming Milwaukee for the weekend. The Braves will get the Brewers off a grueling four-game series with bitter rival Chicago so Atlanta may be able to steal one early in that set. After that the Braves head west to face San Francisco and Arizona before another home stand against Chicago and San Francisco. And beyond that lies the grinder: at New York, at St. Louis and home to Florida. Three of the next five series are at home, but six of the next eight series are against teams with more talent and embroiled in the thick of the playoff hunt.
I will be a solid Braves-fader for the next two months. And, as a New York Mets fan living in the Atlanta area, I will enjoy every single moment of it. What we need to hope for is for Atlanta to not get embarrassed by Milwaukee over the weekend and then make a respectable (3-4 or 4-3) showing on the Left Coast. If that is the case they will be a perfect fade against the Cubs, Mets and Cardinals. They could be a moneymaker and I think that over the next 30 games if you blindly played against the Braves you will make more money than if you blindly played on the Angels over the same stretch.
Carpe diem, my friend, and good luck.