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.
Schulman merely tweeted that “Tejada looks really bad,” but then wrote this on his blog:
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.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.