Miguel Tejada may still latch on with another team after being designated for assignment by the Giants today, but the former MVP looks finished as a quality regular and is definitely finished as a decent shortstop option.
Rather than focus on the terrible hitter and range-less fielder that Tejada has become in the twilight of his career, I thought it would be worthwhile to remember his days as an elite shortstop and examine his place in baseball history.
I tend to think Tejada didn’t deserve his MVP in 2002, as he trailed fellow shortstop Alex Rodriguez in nearly every major category, including a 150-point deficit in OPS, but he was certainly one of the top all-around players in baseball that season and was very much deserving of his fifth-place finish in the 2004 balloting.
At his peak Tejada was in the lineup every day, playing all 162 games in six straight seasons, and typically batted .275-.300 with 25-35 homers, tons of RBIs, and decent defense at shortstop. Add it all up and he’s accumulated 42.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for his career, which ranks 10th among all shortstops during the past 50 years:
Alex Rodriguez 105.2
Cal Ripken Jr. 89.9
Robin Yount 76.9
Derek Jeter 70.9
Barry Larkin 68.9
Alan Trammell 66.9
Ozzie Smith 64.6
Jim Fregosi 46.1
Bert Campaneris 45.3
MIGUEL TEJADA 42.8
Nomar Garciaparra 42.6
Omar Vizquel 42.6
I’m not sure Tejada will get much Hall of Fame support, but he has a reasonable case if you’re like me and generally believe shortstops and other up-the-middle defenders are underrepresented in Cooperstown recently. Like many great athletes the end of Tejada’s career hasn’t been pretty, but he was a helluva player for a long time and few shortstops can top his 2000-2007 peak.
Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.
His rehab so far has gone on without issue.
Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …
Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.
Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.
According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.
The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.
Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.
The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.
Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.
Before Bud Selig ultimately retired, he had a couple of false start retirement announcements only to have the owners beg him to sign on for one more term. In one of those false starts he talked about how the University of Wisconsin had set up an office for him in the history department and that he’d be doing some research and teaching a class now and again. And he has, in fact, taught some one-off seminars at Wisconsin’s law school and the like.
Now something a little more permanent along those lines is in the works for The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History. The Arizona Republic reports that Selig will join the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s law school where he will teach and advise as well as start up a speakers series in which he will bring in high-powered guests. No word on how many speakers will talk about big, important historical sports law cases like, say collusion in baseball, which was orchestrated by an ownership class in the mid-to-late 80s, of which Bud Selig was far and away the most influential member. That could get sort of awkward, I suppose.
Either way, it’s a good way to keep busy. I mean, that’s what it has to be as he’s not hurting for cash, what with the obscene $6 million severance package the owners gave him to, I dunno, not give interviews about bad stuff that happened back in the day like Fay Vincent does all the time. Stuff like collusion. Maybe he gets the $6 million for some other purpose. Who can say, really? It’s never made any sort of sense otherwise.
Anyway, good luck in Tempe, Bud. Maybe I’ll stop by your office at ASU when I’m there next month — I always stay in Tempe — and we can chew the fat or climb that butte with the big A on it or something. First round at Four Peaks afterward is on me.
First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.
Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.
Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.
It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.