The libelous and conjecture-filled offseason is in full swing and the Dutch Ovens are steaming! From every good Hot Stove comes a delicious Hot Knife, guaranteed to make your thinking hazy and unclear. There is a chance that Hot Knives will mess you up like a bad accident.
We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.
Today, the biggest fish left in the pond: Mark Teixeira.
Here's the thing with Mark Teixeira. He's good. Everyone knows this. He's a fine hitter, excellent first baseman, a solid citizen and churrasqueira enthusiast. He ranked in the top 10 in exotic rate stats like OPS, wOBA (weighted on base average, read more here), BB/K, and WPA/LI in addition to accumulating enough home runs and RBIs to make any old codger's heart sing. He even has good "clutch" stats! He's still only 28 years old.
But for whatever reason, the thought of Mark Teixeira making in upwards of $20 million dollars a year just doesn't sit right. Mark Teixeira is, at the same time, everything that is both right and wrong with professional sports. He goes out, puts forth a "professional effort" offering a "professional contribution", and goes home. He will turn from a small market casualty to a free market mercenary literally overnight. His association with Scott Boras and the doubtless riches he's bound to see will place expectation upon him that he can't possibly match, no matter how well he performs. He's the sabrmetrican's dream and the heart, hustle and intangibles set's worst nightmare. Refreshingly free of any hint of branding, guile, or personality.
The teams in pursuit of Teixeira change depending on the day, but mostly commonly rumoured are Baltimore, Washington, Anaheim, Boston and the Yankees. Only Anaheim would have spared him undue suffering. The microscopes of Boston and New York could vault Tex into the stratosphere of super-stardom that he may just deserve. They are just a likely to provide two ravenous franchises with a focal point for their scorn should he fail to deliver in the manner expected of such a lavishly paid young man.
The Nats and Os are looking for a hometown boy to swoop in and save their moribund franchises. Become the face of the franchise while leading them up from the depths of their respective divisions. A virtual impossibility for any one player, no matter their quality. A task made only more difficult with such a large percentage of mid-level clubs' payroll tied up in one
big name player.
Is he really a superstar? Of course he's good, excellent even. He gives his team a significantly better chance to win any time he's in the lineup, but there are plenty of players just like that. He's inferior to Albert Pujols in nearly every way, but who isn't? He's going to be rich (note: he already was) and he'll make your team better. But he will divide the fanbase and send radio call-in bros into paroxysms of fiscal indignation, no matter how many parades he attends.
He is the human Rorschach test, you've already decided how you'll see him.