Scott Boras is right to compare Prince Fielder to Mark Teixeira

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Yesterday agent Scott Boras compared impending free agent Prince Fielder to Mark Teixeira, a fellow client and slugging first baseman who got an eight-year, $180 million contract from the Yankees as a free agent two offseasons ago.
Boras did his usual hyperbolic thing, talking up Fielder as a future Hall of Famer and suggesting 20 teams would be willing to take Teixeira’s contract off the Yankees’ hands. He also once compared Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax, so clearly anything he says should be taken with Fielder-sized grains of salt.
However, the Teixeira-Fielder comparison is actually a pretty reasonable one. First, here’s a look at how Fielder’s career numbers right now compare to Teixeira’s career numbers at the time of his free agency:

CAREER           G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       904     3931     .290     .378     .541     134
Fielder        764     3201     .281     .383     .544     141

Fielder has played fewer games, but he’ll close that gap somewhat during the second half and in terms of all-around offensive production he has a slight edge over Teixeira in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and adjusted OPS+. Also of note is that Fielder will be 27 years old when he hits the open market, whereas Teixeira was 29.
Of course, career numbers don’t necessarily tell an accurate story, so let’s focus on what Fielder has done in the past three seasons compared to what Teixeira did in the three seasons before his free agency:

THREE YEARS      G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       451     1987     .298     .393     .541     141
Fielder        410     1810     .283     .394     .542     148

Basically identical numbers, with Fielder holding a very slight edge. And finally, here’s a look at what Fielder has done this season compared to what Teixeira did in the season before his free agency:

PAST YEAR        G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       157      685     .308     .410     .552     152
Fielder         89      397     .265     .401     .494     142

Teixeira finally tops Fielder here, although it’s worth noting that since getting off to a very slow start Fielder has hit .278/.413/.557 with 18 homers in the past 64 games.
Based strictly on their hitting Fielder has been slightly better than Teixeira was prior to his free agency and he’s also two years younger, which is significant. On the other hand, the scale tips back in Teixeira’s favor when it comes to defense and body type. Teixeira’s edge defensively is at least as big as Fielder’s edge offensively, and obviously there are all kinds of questions about how well Fielder will age at his weight.
I don’t think Fielder will come close to getting $180 million on the open market, in part because the baseball economy has changed since Teixeira signed his deal and in part because he likely won’t have the Yankees bidding for his services. With that said, for once a Boras comparison is actually pretty reasonable.

Astros take their third bite at the apple in response to Assistant GM Brandon Taubman’s comments

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Last night Sports Illustrated reported that, following the Houston Astros’ Game 6 victory over the Yankees on Saturday night, Astros Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman shouted at a group of three female reporters, “Thank god we got [Roberto] Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!” Taubman reportedly repeated the phrase half a dozen times. The Sports Illustrated report was later corroborated by no less than four reporters apart from the Sports Illustrated reporter who were in the clubhouse and witnessed the incident.

The comments and their context strongly suggested that Taubman was, at best, making light of the criticism the Astros received for trading for Osuna following his domestic violence suspension resulting from very serious domestic violence charges lodged against him in 2018. To some it smacked of Taubman taking something of a victory lap over the Astros’ controversial — and poorly handled — acquisition of Osuna and came off as extraordinarily insensitive and abjectly tone deaf.

The Astros originally declined comment before the report was published. Late last night, after the story went live and once it became apparent that it cast Taubman in a bad light, they issued an angry and defensive statement, calling the Sports Illustrated article “misleading and completely irresponsible.” Again, despite the fact that the report was corroborated by multiple eyewitnesses. The team’s statement was itself then subjected to intense criticism today.

The Astros are now taking their third bite at the apple, releasing the following statements:

It’s worth noting that nowhere here do the Astros apologize or even reference last night’s statement which, in essence, called Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein a liar. A statement which they no doubt would’ve let be the last word if it hadn’t been met with such pushback. Which suggests that the above statements — of the “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” non-apology apology variety — are more about damage control than sincerity.

It’s also worth noting that Taubman’s comment takes the oh-so-common tack of referencing the fact that he is a “husband and a father,” which is irrelevant given that at issue were his acts and words, not his identity. We are not what we believe ourselves to be in our heart of hearts. We are what we do. We are how we treat one another. That’s all that matters. Attempts to deflect from that basic fact of humanity are, just that, deflections. And patronizing ones at that. Taubman’s statement would’ve been way better if it had stopped after the second sentence.

As for owner Jim Crane’s statement, it continues the Astros’ tack of wanting to have it both ways. There is no rule that says they could not have traded for Roberto Osuna. What made the whole episode unseemly, however, is how they claimed to have a “zero tolerance” policy against domestic violence and claimed not to be breaking it when they clearly did so because, hey, Osuna was cheaply had. Which means that they actually have a “some tolerance” policy — as do a lot of teams — but they wanted to act like they were better than that and deflect criticism from those who took issue. Here again, Crane wants it both ways by using what should be a straight apology for one of his top employees’ boorish behavior as an opportunity to once again claim that they are better than they truly are when it comes to domestic violence.

If you don’t have to care about an issue and you, in fact, don’t care, well, fine. You may catch hell from people for that stance, but you can do what you want. If, however, you want credit for being on top of an issue, do the work to earn it. If you fall short of your or society’s expectations, apologize and try to do better. What you cannot do is fail and then try to use your failure as a means of turning the tables on those who criticize you while claiming that, actually, you’re really really good on the topic.

Major League Baseball has also weighed in:

“Domestic violence is extraordinarily serious and everyone in baseball must use care to not engage in any behavior — whether intentional or not — that could be construed as minimizing the egregiousness of an act of domestic violence.  We became aware of this incident through the Sports Illustrated article.  The Astros have disputed Sports Illustrated’s characterization of the incident.  MLB will interview those involved before commenting further.”

The comment came out at almost the exact same time the Astros’ comments were released, which suggests to me that they were coordinated. Which, hey, they’re all trying to end the conversation about this before the first pitch of tonight’s Game 1. I will not hold my breath for anything to come of MLB’s “interviews” of those involved.

As for the Astros, here is some free advice: “I. Am. Sorry. I. Was. Wrong. I. Should. Not. Have. Done/Said. That.”

Apologies are easy. We’re taught how to do them when we’re two years-old. Only when we start thinking we’re better than everyone do we start qualifying them to the skies to the point where they lose all meaning