Teixeira deal swings balance in NL East

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - We went into Major League Baseball's non-waiver trading deadline expecting little and that is what we got. Aside from the Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne deals, both of whom we expected to get moved anyway, nothing of any significance happened.

Atlanta was by far the big winners on the day, as it drastically improved its team. In a matter of hours Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz showed why he is among the best executives in the game, as he transformed his team from just a run-of-the-mill playoff contender to perhaps the team to beat in the National League.

Not only with the acquisition of Teixeira, but the Braves also bolstered an already deep bullpen by picking up lefty Ron Mahay in the deal with the Rangers, as well as right-hander Octavio Dotel from the Kansas City Royals. Mahay becomes the only southpaw in the Braves' pen, while Dotel joins hard- throwing Rafael Soriano as one of the bridges to Bob Wickman.

The big prize, though, was Teixeira, who will likely bat cleanup in a lineup that already boasts Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann.

Atlanta ranked at the bottom or near the bottom in every major offensive category with regards to its first basemen, hitting just .211 with 12 homers, 41 RBI and 42 runs scored at the position.

In 78 games this season, Teixeira is batting .297 with 13 homers and 49 runs batted in. He spent about a month on the disabled list earlier this summer with a strained left quadriceps, an injury that ended his streak of 507 consecutive games played.

Teixeira not only gives them a significant upgrade at the plate, but in the field as well, as he brings a pair of Gold Glove awards with him to Dixie.

The 27-year-old switch-hitter, who played collegiately at Georgia Tech, has belted more than 30 homers and driven in at least 110 runs in each of his last three years. He was an All-Star in 2005 when he had career highs with 43 homers, 144 runs batted in and a .301 batting average.

You can't help but think back 14 years when Schuerholz picked up another first baseman to help his team down the stretch. The Braves were eight games out when they obtained Fred McGriff from San Diego, but the first baseman was the driving force behind a strong second half push that saw the Braves capture their third of 14 straight division titles.

Unlike 1993, though, Teixeira and the Braves, don't have that much ground to make up. Atlanta entered play on Tuesday 4 1/2 games back of the New York Mets in the very weak NL East and 2 1/2 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the wild card.

If Atlanta was the big winner in the NL, then Boston was no doubt the big winners in the AL, as it picked up Gagne from the Texas Rangers, giving the Red Sox as formidable a 1-2 punch late in the game as you will ever see.

With Mike Timlin on the shelf, Gagne actually fills a need for the talent- laden Red Sox. He had to waive his no-trade to get there, though, but I am guessing Boston paid off his finishing games incentives in order to facilitate the deal.

Let's take a look at what some of the other playoff contending teams did to better themselves at the deadline:

NEW YORK METS - With Jose Valentin done for the season, the Mets needed a second baseman and they went out and acquired Luis Castillo from the Minnesota Twins. You can't really argue with the deal, since they gave up virtually nothing in a pair of fledgling Double-A prospects to get him. Sure, Castillo can't hit a lick anymore, but he is still as good as there is in the field. And let's be honest, with that lineup, the Mets don't need Castillo to hit. All they need him to do is field his position, which he will do. Anything they get out of him from an offensive standpoint is a bonus.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - There were not many starting pitchers available this year, so you can't really blame the Phillies for picking up right-hander Kyle Lohse from the Cincinnati Reds. Lohse has been given next-to-nothing in terms of run support this season from the Reds and has pitched better than his 6-12 record indicates. Is he the difference, though, for the Phillies winning a division title or the wild card? I would say not. I did like how quick the team reacted to get second baseman Tadahito Iguchi to replace injured All-Star Chase Utley. I hope that doesn't mean he is worse off than in what is being reported. The acquisition of Julio Mateo adds some depth to their maligned bullpen. Hopefully he and Brett Myers won't hang out together.

NEW YORK YANKEES - The Yankees shipped reliever Scott Proctor to the Dodgers for infielder Wilson Betemit. Coveted by the Yankees at last year's trade deadline, Betemit gives the Yankees another option off the bench and if Alex Rodriguez bolts after the season he could play third. He can also play first if Andy Phillips struggles. Good move by the Yankees if only for the reason that they got Proctor out of town.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS - Proctor has struggled mightily of late for the Yankees, allowing a run in four of his last six appearances. Perhaps it was the constant trade rumors or the fact that Joe Torre seemed to pitch him every night, but Proctor was far from a reliable option for the Yankees this season, going just 2-5 with a 3.81 ERA. After walking 33 batters in over 102 innings last season, Proctor issued 29 bases-on-balls in 54 1/3 frames this season.

SAN DIEGO PADRES - The Padres added a couple of veterans in Morgan Ensberg and Rob Mackowiak. In other words they did nothing to help their chances in the NL West.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.
Chris Ruddick
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