Braves deal Teixeira, concede season
Tuesday brought what seemed to be inevitable for the Atlanta Braves. After a terrible first half to the season, the Braves traded first baseman Mark Teixeira. Mark was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephan Marek. Before and after the blockbuster trade, the Braves played a 4-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Game 1 was on Monday and put Charlie Morton against Brandon Looper. Morton continued to struggle as he gave up 8 earned runs in just 3 and 2/3 innings. Looper was very good, limiting the Braves to 2 runs on 7 hits over 7 innings. Teixeira was good, going 2-4 in his last game as an Atlanta Brave. Atlanta’s bats were shutdown and lost 12-3.
Game 2 was the first game without Mark Teixeira. Atlanta has also been without Chipper Jones and Brian McCann due to injuries. Without their big bats, Atlanta was again unable to muster much offense off of Cardinal starter Todd Wellemeyer. Jorge Campillo had another strong outing for Atlanta. He gave up 2 runs over 7 innings while striking out 5. St. Louis led 3-2 until the 8th inning. Atlanta catcher Corky Miller made a costly throwing error that let Albert Pujols score what proved to be the winning run. Mike Gonzalez gave up 5 runs in the 9th inning to end Atlanta’s hopes of a comeback. The Cardinals would take game 2, 8-3.
Casey Kotchman made his Atlanta Braves debut in game 3 on Wednesday. Jair Jurrjens faced Chris Carpenter. Carpenter was making his first start since coming back from Tommy John Surgery. He would give up 1 run over 4 innings. Jair Jurrjens was decent for the Braves, allowing 3 runs in 7 innings of work. His quality start was lost, as the bullpen could not hold the St. Louis bats. Casey Kotchman went 0-5 in his debut, including a groundout with the bases loaded. Atlanta dropped the game 7-2 for their 5th straight loss.
Game 4 had Mike Hampton duel Joel Pineiro. Hampton pitched well, giving up 4 runs over 5 innings. This is an encouraging start that shows he may be over his injury stint. Backup catcher Clint Sammons had a great game for the Braves. He went 3-4 with a home run and 3 runs batted in. He could become a very nice trading piece for Atlanta in the future. Casey Kotchman went 0-4 and has not had a hit since coming to Atlanta. The Braves won 9-4 to end their losing streak.
The biggest news for Atlanta during the week is of course the trade. Teixeira was dealt because the Braves would not be able to resign him in the off-season. He was offered a long-term contract during spring training that was turned down. In the trade the Braves acquired Casey Kotchman and Stephan Marek. Kotchman is a 25-year old that could develop into a Teixeira-like player. He plays Gold Glove defense and hits for a good average. At this point he does not have the same power but that could come. Marek is a power throwing reliever that could help the struggling bullpen in the future.
Atlanta has received devastating news about Tim Hudson. After leaving a game against the Marlins with elbow discomfort, it has been discovered he will need Tommy John Surgery. If he can throw without discomfort over the weekend, he could rehab the elbow without surgery. Rehabbing his elbow will take about 5 months, opposed to surgery, which will take about a year. With this injury it will spark the look for an ace in the off-season and will require Jair Jurrjens to step up and lead the rotation for the rest of the season. After his collision at home plate, Brian McCann is doing ok. Atlanta will not risk his health by rushing his return in what is a lost season.
Then next series will have the Milwaukee Brewers come to town to face the Braves at Turner Field. The Brewers will be looking to rebound after being crushed at home by the Cubs. It looks like Chuck James will be called up from AAA Richmond to replace Tim Hudson. James (0-0) will face Jeff Suppan (5-7). The next two games for the Braves will be tough. Game 2 on Saturday has C.C Sabathia (10-8) face struggling Charlie Morton (2-4). The series finale has Brave-killer Ben Sheets (10-4) duel with Jorge Campillo (5-4). The Braves will likely pursue both Sheets and Sabathia in the off-season to be the ace of their staff. With the Teixeira trade, the Braves have conceded the season and will look forward to next year.
By Ben Burrows
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