Where does Miguel Tejada rank in the history of shortstops?

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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.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.