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Mark TeixeiraToday 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.

6 Responses to “I hate having to defend Mark Teixeira, but…”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    I don’t see what the complaint is. Teixeira is tied for sixth in MLB in RBI with Lance Berkman and Justin Morneau. Are papers in Minnesota and Texas bitching them out? I don’t think so.

    I wrote this week’s Metro column about the similar bashing Manny is taking up here in Beantown. I’ll post the link when I do our Hump Day reading.

  2. O’Brien’s problem with Tex seems to be that the Braves’ 1B doesn’t spread his production out evenly enough. He hits too much from June-July and not enough from April-May. Also, that too many of his RBI come in situations where the team is already up big or down big.

  3. Paul Moro says:

    I always wonder how genuine writers are when they make claims like this. Are they just trying to get a story out and don’t care about actual content? Do they actually think that their points are valid?

    It’s not like Tex has this switch on the back of his head that he can just turn on when the situation needs him to. Like he sits in the clubhouse thinking to himself, “I think I’m going to set myself to “clutch” today.” Hits come when they come. Sometimes, guys are lucky and their hits are game-winners. Other times, not so much and it’s unrewarded.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    This is the second time in a week that an AJC writer has unfairly ripped Teixeira. Last year, shortly before Tex was traded, Dallas Morning-News writer Jean Jacques Taylor called Teixeira “the kind of guy who would complain about the greens at Augusta National or paying taxes after winning the lottery” and said Teixeira had to go — “the sooner, the better.” I’m getting the impression that Teixeira has a way of rubbing his teammates and the media the wrong way. I think that’s why you see all these negative stories. Reporters want to call him a jerk. But they can’t. So instead they call him things like unclutch.

  5. Nick Kapur says:

    This probably means that Texeira is a somewhat quiet, introverted, and rather intelligent guy – those are the guys they media hates.

  6. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, you just described Carlos Beltran. “He doesn’t care”. Of course he doesn’t. He doesn’t care so much that he’s become the best centerfielder in the National League. “He’s not clutch”. OK. And didn’t you people cream yourselves following the 2004 postseason because of what he did? “He’s not a winner”. Yes, this must be why the Mets aren’t winning. Not because this guy is flanked by Endy Chavez and Fernando Tatis in the OF. Not because Brian Schneider is a back-up quality catcher. Not because the team can’t stay healthy. It’s because Beltran isn’t a winner. Eureka.

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