2011 Season in Review: Miguel Tejada

Miguel Tejada is one of the greatest shortstops of all time — top 50 easily, and arguably top 25. Simply going by WAR (Baseball-Reference’s implementation), he’s 23rd all time. That’s not too shabby — higher than Omar Vizquel even. I wouldn’t say he’s Hall-of-Fame material, but he’s certainly Hall of Very Good material.

Anyway, 37+ year old shortstops are rare, and good ones are even harder to come by. The departures of Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria left the Giants with a void at shortstop last offseason; they didn’t have many options — particularly on the free agent market — so they chose to sign Miguel Tejada. This was — without doubt — their greatest mistake of the offseason, as Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy were both available on the trade market at the time (Hardy would soon be traded to the Baltimore Orioles for next to nothing). Additionally, the contract — $6.5MM over one year — seemed a bit lucrative for a shortstop of his age, coming off a season in which he’d posted an OPS just under .700; it was a classic case of Brian Sabean outbidding himself. In any event, the Giants went with Tejada, and sad as it sounds in retrospect, he was their biggest new addition (with Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell returning after re-signing with the Giants).

Tejada, of course, fell off a cliff with the bat, proving futile at the plate in 343 plate appearances. He was aggressive — only drawing 12 walks on the season — and his power all but disappeared, as he slugged just .326 (the lowest mark of his career, by far). His defense at short, as expected, left a lot to be desired. After averaging 158 games per season from 1999-2010 — proving to be incredibly durable, Tejada missed 25 games in the late summer due to an abdominal strain.

In late August, Tejada was the subject of much scrutiny (kudos to Bay Area Sports guy for calling Tejada out), after refusing to run hard on a bunt. Soon after, Tejada was designated for assignment along with Aaron Rowand.

Fangraphs has Tejada’s season valued at exactly 0.0 wins above replacement, which is just perfect in so many ways. What a forgettable season he had. Quite a sad ending to a fine career, though.

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3 thoughts on “2011 Season in Review: Miguel Tejada

  1. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? Bartlett cost the Padres a couple of pretty good relievers. Of course they didn’t care because they knew they weren’t contending anyway. Hardy had been hurt the better part of the prior 3 seasons. Bartlett wasn’t all that for the Padres and the Orioles got lucky with Hardy. IMO, Tejada appeared to be the best, and almost only option at the time. It didn’t work out.

    • Actually, no — this isn’t a case of hindsight. I was in favor of a JJ Hardy trade at the time, and even if he hadn’t had this kind of a season on offense, he would have been an excellent acquisition. A stellar defensive shortstop with offensive upside, and he cost the Orioles next to nothing. I’m certain the Giants could’ve put together a decent enough package to acquire him, and it most definitely would have been worth it.

      Bartlett’s not as obvious, but I was also in favor of acquiring him. Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell are solid, but “pretty good” sounds a little generous. There’s nothing particularly special about either of them. Definitely wasn’t too much to give away to acquire a solid shortstop.

      Even just given his age (esp. considering the history of poorly-performing old shortstops) and deteriorating defense, it was pretty clear that Tejada was an underwhelming solution — though I obviously didn’t expect this much of a dropoff.

  2. Miggy Tejada was an unimaginative panic signing that looked bad at the time and became an unmitigated disaster. Agent Ned poached Uribe (and Sabean counter-offered, $1MM of McCourt’s deferred won Juan over) and within THE DAY Sabean was announcing Tejada. This one really bothers me. No patience to work a trade, no patience to explore cheaper options, just grab the guy who was deemed the most likely to hit dingerz and overpay him. The intention to play him at shortstop was roundly ridiculed.

    So on the trade front in addition to JJ Hardy (who I wanted as well) and Bartlett, there was also Marco Scutaro. On the FA front there was our old friend Orlando Cabrera, Renteria, Johnny Peralta and Nishioka from Japan. Here’s the thing about the trade market: Sabean set it by walking away. SD got Bartlett for a couple decent relievers and then Balto got Hardy with a couple of mediocre ones. Frustrating as all get out, but the Giants would have had to pay more for Hardy. Seeing him blow up the way he did obviously makes it a monday morning QB nightmare.

    Back to Tejada, one of my least favorite Giants in recent times: no power (ex-juicer), no patience (terrible hacking), he basically became a lucky ground ball hitter. His 3-0 swings early in the season were unforgivable. And then you get to his defense. Holy crap he was awful. Hands of stone, range of stone, just terrible. And finally, his attitude. Miserable. Coupled with his stupid use of the Spotlight, the Antlers (which he apparently invented, that tells you all you need to know about that) and him throwing those up when he beat out a swinging bunt, and you have one of the most out of touch players I’ve ever seen, on a pretty tight knit ballclub that values old school (Matt Cain doesn’t tip his cap with runners on base). He got “hot” right when Sando went down, he got shifted to third, and we were stuck with him for the year. Finally he got pissy about bunting (which he was doing all the time – the swinging bunt was his specialty when he wasn’t grounding into double plays or popping up) and we were finally able to say goodbye to him and Warrior Spirit, a month too late, but better than nothing.

    You can’t measure clutch, but Juan Uribe had a helluva lotta clutch in 2010. My lasting memories of Tejada, even when he was good, were his baserunning gaffes in the playoffs that cost the A’s dearly, and him whining about Derrick Lowe grabbing his crotch after Boston beat em. He was a very good yet spazzy player in his prime, but at 37 should have never been signed. Bad bad move Sabean.

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