The Red Sox say they will not be "a factor" in the bidding, but they probably will be. The Angels are out of the running, and seem much more serious about it than Boston. The Yankees are lurking, but appear unwilling to get involved unless Teixeira's demands drop considerably, and the Orioles are lagging behind everyone else, hoping against hope that Tex will sign at a huge discount just to play in his hometown.
All of which brings us to the Nationals, who, despite finishing with the worst record in baseball this year, remain a factor. Considering the massive rebuilding project they're facing, that's no small achievement, and it's enough to make pitcher Collin Balesterawfully optimistic about the state of baseball in the nation's capital.
Every month, Washington pitcher Collin Balester appears on a satellite radio show (MLB Home Plate, Sirius 210 and XM 175). It's called "Minors & Majors with Grant Paulsen." When Paulsen asked Balester this week about his feelings if the Nationals sign Mark Teixeira, here's what Balester said...
"If that happens it's going to be a dream come true. That guy is a great player and if he comes to the nation's capital, watch out, we're going to the World Series and we are winning it all. I'm calling it right now. We're playing four games in the World Series, sweep, see ya!"
Yikes. What is it about NL East teams and smack talk?
As my colleague Josh Alper quipped: "Well, sure. With the amount they're paying him, he could afford tickets for the whole gang." As Washington Post beat writer Chico Harlan pointed out just below Balester's comments, Teixeira has never even won a playoff series.
There's nothing wrong with a little optimism from a player -- lord knows, the Nationals could use some these days. But sometimes you also have to recognize the gloomy reality of a situation. Teixeira is a fantastic player, who can be a key cog in a championship team, but the Nats need a lot (like a really lot) more than him to even be a factor in their division -- forget about the World Series -- and it's going to take years for them to get it.
Their offense should be better next year with or without Teixeira, but it would have been hard for it to be any worse, and their pitching staff is a disaster, a disaster that Balester himself was a part of in 2008 (3-7 W-L, 5.51 ERA, 50 K, 28 BB).
Frankly, there are about 50 ways the Nationals could better spend their money this winter than on Mark Teixeira. Right atop the list would be signing some real pitchers to push Balester down or off the depth chart, or at least nabbing a few guys who could provide him with some earnest competition for a rotation spot and maybe even a little Crash Davis-style sage advice.
Mere Thought of Mark Teixeira Inspires Boundless Optimism in Washington originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Mon, 22 Dec 2008 14:50:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.