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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.