The Texas Rangers will be playing in their first ever World Series tonight as they take on the San Francisco Giants. If it were not for the Atlanta Braves, the Rangers would not be where they are now.
The Rangers have benefited greatly this season from the 2007 trade that they made with the Atlanta Braves. The Braves received Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. The Rangers received Jarrod Saltalamaccia, Elivis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and Beau Jones.
Saltalamaccia was traded in July to the Boston Red Sox for three prospects. He was the guy that many thought was the big piece of this deal.
Harrison pitched in Texas for the past two seasons as a starter and reliever. He did not make the postseason roster. He has struggled with control in Texas, as evidenced by his almost 1:1 strike out to walk ratio. Jones, meanwhile, is still in the Rangers’ minor league system.
The other two players that the Rangers received from the Braves is why they are playing in the World Series. (I admit that Cliff Lee is awesome and he hasn’t hurt their chances. He is why they beat the Rays.) But, Andrus and Feliz have played integral parts in the Rangers getting to where they are right now.
Andrus was a highly regarded prospect when the Braves sent him to Texas. He was their #2 prospect in 2007. Andrus hit .265 with a .342 OBP and .301 slugging percentage in 2010, which is not great. He did not hit any home runs and drove in only 35 runs. He scored 88 runs and stole 32 bases. He has been a solid leadoff hitter for the Rangers. He is solid defensively and is only 22 years old.
Feliz has been the most important piece for the Rangers in this deal. He took over as the closer for the Rangers this year and was stellar. He had a 2.73 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP and a .176 batting average against him. He had 40 saves, 71 Ks and only 18 walks. He has shortened the game for the Rangers and has helped to make their bullpen more formidable.
Frank Wren mentioned not too long ago that Feliz would probably not be in the Braves’ bullpen. I completely disagree with that. He might not have closed out games for the Braves with Wagner on the team. But, would the Braves have signed Wagner if they would have still had Feliz? If the Braves still had Feliz, could they ship Kimbrel to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus (many think that he will be asked for in a potential deal)?
Andrus is the piece that the Braves could use right now. If the Braves still had Andrus, they could have shipped Escobar away sooner and they would not have a hole at short stop after the 2011 season when Gonzalez will be gone.
Andrus and Prado would be a nice double play combination. Prado could still bat in the #2 hole and Heyward could slide down to an RBI hole to drive in the guys who get on base a lot.
However, the fact is that the Braves made a gamble and sent a haul of prospects to the Rangers for what they hoped was the pieces that would lead the to a World Series. Tex and Mahay was considered by many to be that important.
Three years later, the Rangers are in the World Series with two good players from the Braves. Without them, they would not be here. If the Braves still had them, they may be playing in the World Series right now.
Speculation is fun. I hope for the best for the Rangers.