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.
Tommy Pham started off his playoff career in style, blasting a solo home run in the eighth inning of the Cardinals’ Game 1 win against the Cubs, padding the lead to 2-0 at the time. Pham launched a 3-1, 87 MPH cutter from John Lester way over the fence in left-center field at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals would tack on two more runs before the frame ended, as Stephen Piscotty hit a two-run homer against Pedro Strop.
Pham, 27, posted a .901 OPS in 196 plate appearances with Triple-A Memphis and an .824 OPS in 173 PA at the major league level. He was a great source of outfield depth for the Cardinals earlier this season when Randal Grichuk succumbed to an elbow injury.
The Angels have claimed outfielder Todd Cunningham off waivers from the Braves, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes was designated for assignment to create room for Cunningham on the 40-man roster.
Cunningham, 26, took only 93 trips to the plate for the Braves this season, batting .221/.280/.267 with 15 singles, four doubles, four RBI, and 13 runs scored. He did play above-average defense in limited playing time. Cunningham will simply serve as organizational outfield depth for the Halos.
The waiver claim is the first move made by new Angels GM Billy Eppler, who joined the team from the Yankees earlier this week.
John Lackey flirted with a no-hitter but settled for 7 1/3 terrific, shutout innings to beat the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. The right-hander held the opposition to two hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist struck out two to finish the eighth without issue. Closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth to seal the 4-0 win, recording all three outs on called strike threes.
Lackey brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but lost it quickly when Addison Russell hit a ground ball single up the middle to lead off the frame. Russell would steal second base but was stranded.
Opposing starter Jon Lester wasn’t too shabby himself, relenting three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings. The first run came around in the first inning on Matt Holliday‘s RBI single, which followed a one-out double by Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot in the eighth inning and launched a solo home run off of Lester to double the Cardinals’ lead. Lester walked Matt Carpenter before exiting. Pedro Strop came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty.
The closest the Cubs came to scoring was when Dexter Fowler sent a deep fly ball to right field with a man on base and two outs in the sixth inning, but Randal Grichuk caught it with a foot or two to spare in front of the fence on the warning track.
The two clubs will play Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at 5:30 PM EDT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and oppose Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia.