Last night both Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle and Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News wrote about how awful Miguel Tejada looked at shortstop and how unproductive he’s been at the plate all spring.
First, here’s a tweet from Baggarly:
Not to be mean, but if I’m Tim Lincecum watching Miguel Tejada play short, I’m thinking I’d better strike out 400 this year.
Everything you might have heard about Miguel Tejada’s difficulties this spring is true. He rarely barrels up a baseball at the plate. On the field, his range is nonexistent and most of his throws to first are weak, even on routine plays. He looks his age and then some. If Tejada plays like this during the season, his signing will have been a big mistake.
Schulman then did the usual reporter thing and said he’s “going to go on a limb and say he’ll be better when the games count.” Still, it’s pretty rare for a pair of beat writers to be so open in criticizing a veteran player in mid-March.
What’s especially interesting about the Tejada reports is that they imply some level of surprise that he’s no longer a capable defensive shortstop or an impact hitter at age 37, but both of those things have been true for several years now. Tejada posted underwhelming road numbers while with the Astros and then hit just .269 with a .692 OPS in 156 games between the Orioles and Padres last season.
And his defense has been rating out horribly for a while, with the Orioles using him as a third baseman and Ultimate Zone Rating pegging him as a 12 runs below average in 214 starts at shortstop since 2009. Very few shortstops remain capable defenders at age 37 and even fewer do so while being as bulky at Tejada.
All of which is why guys like me criticized the Giants for signing him to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the idea that he’d be their primary shortstop. In fact, my exact quote at the time was that “in signing Tejada the Giants are really sacrificing defense and offense for veteran-ness.” Now they’re just getting what they paid for.