Editor's Note: NESN.com Red Sox reporter Tony Lee will examine one hot-button baseball topic each day in December. On Monday, he weighed in on the expansion of instant replay.
San Diego Padres general manager Jed Hoyer was with the Red Sox when they lost out on Mark Teixeira. When he was asked about it Monday afternoon at baseball’s winter meetings, in the context of his Adrian Gonzalez swap becoming official, he called the Teixeira ordeal a "kick in the stomach."
That was the feeling when the New York Yankees swooped in and nabbed Teixeira for eight years and $180 million. Now that Hoyer is on the other end of things, he could speculate — very carefully so as not to speak for the Sox — on whether the Gonzalez acquisition helps soothe any lingering pain from that turn of events.
"He’s always been a guy who they've coveted," Hoyer said of his former organization. "Part of [pursuing Gonzalez] probably was, they missed out on Teixeira and they didn't want to miss out on another one."
Hoyer added that Teixeira would have been "a perfect fit" in Boston. Instead, he was close to perfect in New York, becoming a centerpiece to their 27th World Series title in his first year in the Bronx. Since we are talking about history that cannot be altered, we are left to wonder, Is Adrian Gonzalez a better fit for the Red Sox than Mark Teixeira would have been?
Either option is a great one. Both play the field extremely well, hit for power and rarely miss time. They draw walks with the best of them and have the potential to hit for average. There are few weaknesses, if any, to their respective games.
There is reason to believe, however, that Gonzalez will be the better of the two moves for Boston. He will come slightly cheaper, he's almost exactly the same age at the time of acquisition (Teixeira turned 29 in April 2009, while Gonzalez will turn 29 in May) and, despite playing half his games in a park that could sabotage most swings, has been a model of consistency.
Not that Teixeira has been sporadic, but he did just have a pretty massive falloff in several offensive categories. Teixeira hit a career-low .256 in 2010 and posted his lowest OPS (.846) since his rookie year, all while hitting the age of 30. Makes you wonder.
Using OPS+, which is adjusted to the park conditions, Gonzalez has posted marks of 162 and 152 in the past two seasons, respectively (anything above 100 is considered better than average). Teixeira’s marks have been 141 and 125, representing significant gaps between the two.
So, the younger, cheaper version in the pitcher’s paradise is outpacing the slightly older, more expensive one in a hitter’s haven, all while surrounded by very little in the San Diego lineup. The two have very comparable numbers overall, but only one has played half his games in a place notorious for having fly balls die on the track and with guys like Kyle Blanks batting behind him. Put Gonzalez in Fenway and the potential is there for an absolute explosion. Do the same with Teixeira and you likely get the same player he was before.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. At all. But given that possible scenario, Teixeira’s slight hint of decline in 2010 and Gonzalez’s remarkable consistency in less-than-ideal conditions, and there's a chance that the second time might be a charm for Boston.
Gonzalez may render that "kick in the stomach" a distant, rather than painful, memory.
Is Adrian Gonzalez a better fit for the Red Sox than Mark Teixeira would have been? Leave your comments below.
On deck: Where will Adrian Gonzalez rank among first basemen in Red Sox history?
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