Rumor Roundup: Miguel Tejada?

Dec 9, 2009 at 2:54 am
The Winter Meetings are on the downslope now, so 'tis the season for the crazy rumour-mongering to escalate even further as agents, players, and executives all try to cook something up before they have to leave picturesque Indianapolis. 

I thought I might take a look at one of the rumours I keep hearing about the Cardinals: their interest in Miguel Tejada to play third base. 

Here's my problem with the Cards being interested in Tejada: for what, exactly? The AARP discount card? I mean, sure, that's great and all, but couldn't we just pay full price at the buffet place and get a better player? 

The real issue I have with this one is it seems to be driven almost entirely by some sort of cooked-up narrative, rather than actual numbers or sense. Tony La Russa has said he feels the club could use another middle of the order bat, especially in the absence of Matt Holliday. The Cards have an opening at third, and Tejada is a former AL MVP. Perfect fit, right? 

Well, yes, except for the part where Miguel Tejada has slugged .390, .394, and .395 each of the last three years away from cozy Minute Maid Park. Yes, Miguel Tejada was most definitely a middle of the order threat at one point in time, but that was several years and several birth certificates ago. At this point in his career, he's basically a singles hitter who absolutely refuses to walk and plays below-average defense. That's right, he's a little like Aaron Miles when Miles was still Cardinal, except Tejada will still cost you $7 million a year. 

What's that? You don't believe me? You say Miguel Tejada and Aaron Miles are absolutely nothing alike? Miguel Tejada's OPS in 2009: .795. His OPS away from Minute Maid: .709. Aaron Miles' OPS in 2008, his last season with the Cardinals: .753. They're a whole lot closer than you think. (Tejada was also aided by a .340 BABIP at home which will likely regress, but I don't even need that to make my case.) 

Tejada still has some value, I suppose, as a player who could probably hit .300 rolling out of bed, but everything else about his bat is pointing the wrong direction. His power is gone, he never had any real plate discipline, and he's largely been propped up these past two seasons by playing in an extreme hitters' park. 

And what about the defense? Tejada has been a minus defender at shortstop three of the last five seasons, and was just 0.2 runs above average in another. (Oddly enough, he did have an outstanding season with the glove in '08. Stopped clocks, blind squirrels, you get the picture.) A move to third base would probably help, as I believe his range has deteriorated more than his arm, but how much? Is a player who cost his team 13.9 runs (by UZR), or 16 runs (by +/-), going to suddenly become an asset by moving from short to third? And even if he does improve markedly, is he going to be as good a defender as any of the other options the Cardinals have at third? 

At this point, the only thing Miguel Tejada is going to do David Freese can't is collect a seven-figure paycheck. This one is a wicked bad idea. Please, Mo, don't do something you, and we, are going to regret.