Watching your team acquire Orlando Cabrera because they think he’s a better shortstop option than you can be tough on a person, but Miguel Tejada chose an interesting way to vent that frustration this morning: He lashed out at the media.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle described the scene in the clubhouse:
Across the clubhouse, Miguel Tejada was fuming, but not that the team traded for another shortstop. He was angry with San Francisco reporters for questioning his defense. Apparently there are no mirrors in Cincinnati for him to look into.
“All the reporters in San Francisco forget who I am,” Tejada said. “All the reporters put in the paper that I don’t have range in this game. I’ll prove it. I don’t pay attention to what reporters say. All I do is work hard. If they want me here, fine. If they don’t, I don’t really worry about it. I just try to do my job.”
If “all the reporters in San Francisco” didn’t write about Tejada’s lack of range at shortstop they ought to have been fired, because it was obvious to anyone who’s watched Giants games this season and has been true for several years. Bruce Bochy moved Tejada from shortstop to third base because it was obvious to the manager as well.
And that’s no great sin by Tejada. Even the best shortstops rarely have the range to remain defensive assets there at age 37 and Tejada was never an elite defender to begin with. General manager Brian Sabean is the person to blame for thinking Tejada could handle the position, although certainly Tejada’s inability to come to grips with his diminished defensive skills is sort of sad.
Tejada is on the disabled list right now with an abdominal strain and based on Schulman’s report it sure sounds like the Giants are in no rush to get him back on the active roster.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.