Tejada to Giants
The San Francisco Giants wasted no time replacing the departed Juan Uribe who signed with the Dodgers (Californian’s on the Move) by inking Miguel Tejada to a 1-year deal for $6.5 million. So let me see if I have this right. The Giants said adios to Uribe when the Dodgers offered him $7 million a season, for three years mind you, and then went out and signed Tejada for two years less and with a savings of $500,000 in 2011. That seems like a pretty good trade off to me. Let’s take a look at the production of each player in 2010.
Tejada: .269-15-71-71-2 with 26 doubles, .312 OBP, .381 SLG
Uribe: .248-24-85-64-1 with 24 doubles, .310 OBP, .440 SLG
No one will argue that Uribe has more pop, or that he is a better defender at this stage of each players careers, but those numbers are still pretty darn close are they not? Given the financial investment that was given to both players, you have to say that the Giants came out ahead if for no other reason than they didn’t have to agree to a contract that was for three years.
Let’s take a deeper look at the 2011 outlook for Tejada.
No longer the MVP level player he once was, Tejada still has some success at the dish. Largely because of the fact that he simply is never hurt – he has appeared in at least 156 games in 11 of the last 12 seasons – Tejada has managed to record at least 13 homers, 66 RBI and 71 runs scored in each of those 12 seasons. Those numbers certainly don’t excite as much as having plans on a Friday night with a lady friend, but they are still noteworthy because Tejada is the only shortstop in baseball who has reached them each of the past 12 years. Moreover, he is one of only three players, regardless of position, with a 12-year stretch of 13-66-71. The other two players in the group are Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez. That level of production makes Tejada a strong NL-only option, but he is more of a middle infield option in mixed leagues (don’t forget that Miguel qualifies at both short – 58 games – and third base – 97 games – in 2011).
The downside though is always present with Tejada, especially as he enters his late 30′s.
(1) He will be 37 years old in late May, and that fact, combined with years of heavy work, leave his defensive acumen in some serious doubt. He is nothing more than an average option at short – that is being kind – and is clearly better suited to play third base at this stage of his career.
(2) He hasn’t hit more than 18 homers since 2006 and in each of the past three seasons his HR/F ratio has been under 8.3 percent, a disappointing total for a player who owns a career mark of 12.6 percent. The fact is that Tejada isn’t going to go deep 20 times in 2011, especially hitting in San Francisco. He has been remarkably consistent though in his ground ball to fly ball ratio which has been between 1.52 and 1.69 the past four years, so one would think he still has a shot at 15 dingers.
(3) He is an extremely impatient hitter. While his .339 career OBP is merely average and honestly a poor number for a player of his skill level, he has been even worse in two of the last three seasons (.314, .340 and .312). When you have middling power and no stolen base speed, it certainly would be advisable to work the count at least a bit. Alas, that just isn’t in the cards with Tejada. On the plus side he does make excellent contact with a career K-rate of less than 13 percent. In addition, his K-rate has been less than 11.5 percent in each of the past four seasons. His bat might be slowing with age, but he still isn’t striking out.
In the end, the Giants did well to add Tejada at a cost that makes more sense than what the Dodgers paid to Juan Uribe. As a Giants fans I wish they would have made a move to bring in Jason Bartlett to play short, but given the relatively minor investment that they made in Tejada I’m not against this deal, that is until an 18 hop ground ball works its way through the left side of the Giants’ infield between Tejada and Pablo Sandoval.
By Ray Flowers