Today AJC blogmaster and Braves beat writer David O’Brien calls out Teixeira for a lack of clutchness. From Braves Blog:
Is Teixeira, with his Gold Glove-level defense and likely .290-30-120 to .310-45-130 offensive range for many years to come, worth $20 mill a season? I’d say only to a team that has a huge payroll, at least $150 mill or so. Not to a team with a $100 mill payroll, because while he piles up stats, he’s not a player, at least from what I’ve seen, who puts a team on his back and delivers big hits when the team needs it most.
Say, for instance, during the first six weeks of this season, when the Braves were dealing with a slew of injuries and Chipper Jones was carrying the offense with help from either Brian McCann or Yunel Escobar, but not much from Tex.
Slow-starter or not (and he’s a slow-starter, every season), the Braves needed to count on him for power and RBIs, and didn’t get it on a regular basis until about two months into the season, when they were already back in the standings.
Where were you when we needed you, Tex? Sure, you were playing Gold Glove-level defense and you had a respectable OBP of .359, but where was the power? Where were the RBIs? Six weeks into the season, you had five homers and 21 RBIs. Not good enough! Sure, we knew you were a slow starter when we traded for you. But we expected you to get off to a mega-hot start! It’s not our fault for having unreasonable expectations. It’s your fault for failing to live up to them!
I don’t remember O’Brien bemoaning Teixeira’s lack of clutch hitting last season, when Tex mashed 17 homers and 56 RBI in 54 games after being traded from the Rangers to the Braves. I don’t recall O’Brien questioning Tex’s ability to “put a team on his back” then. Last year, Teixeira was a hero in Atlanta. But that’s only because Atlanta got the benefit of his torrid August and September hitting, without having to suffer through his chilly April and May. This year, they are getting the complete Teixeira experience.
I really hate defending Teixeira (again) because everything I read about him makes me think that he wouldn’t be my ideal wingman. But the fact is he is remarkably consistent. He always starts slow. He always finishes hot. He’s good for a .375 OBP, 35 HR and 110 RBI every single year. So if he fails to live up to your expectations, odds are you were expecting too much.
If O’Brien really wants to fault somebody for the Braves’ struggles, he should start with Jeff Francoeur, who has failed to live up to even the most modest expectations. O’Brien points out on his blog that since he was recalled from triple-A, Frenchy “has hit .157 (13-for-83) with one double, one homer and four RBI in his past 23 games, with four walks, 21 strikeouts and a .436 OPS. He has more errors (three) than extra-base hits in that stretch.” Yeah, I think the Braves have bigger problems than Teixeira.