It took 36 at-bats, just 36, for the Royals to see all they needed to see out of a 38 year-old middle infielder that hasn’t played major league baseball since 2011.
The Kansas City Royals on Sunday officially announced that Miguel Tejada has been added to the roster and will be traveling to Chicago to start the season as part of the big league club.
At the time of the announcement, the Miguel Tejada acquisition was the most #Royaling thing the Royals could do: allow a player to be put under contract that was not only old, not only not any good anymore, but he hadn’t even played in over a full season. Surely the initial reaction was just overblown, right? This was just a depth move for depth’s sake, and Tejada still had to do enough to prove he deserved to be on the roster.
Well that, and those of us that have followed the Royals under Dayton Moore, knew there was no way Miguel Tejada wasn’t breaking camp on the 25-man roster.
Tejada played in 16 games for the Royals in Arizona, collecting 12 hits and walking only once (no surprise there).* He played in another seven games for the Dominican Republic in the highly irrelevant, and oddly timed preseason tournament forcing allowing players being paid by an employer to risk injury for someone other than them, World Baseball Classic, collecting another six hits and walking one more time.
*pun not intended. Death to puns.
So in all it only took 55 spring at-bats for the Royals to determine that Tejada was fit for major league playing time? Or, was this move predetermined?
“We got great reports on him in winter ball and I wanted to see the whole package and I was very impressed,” Yost said in the story posted by Dick Kaegel.
“Whole package.” What the Royals really saw was a near-40 year-old playing games in the Mexican League against meh competition, and a handful of scattered at-bats in the spring, against meh competition, and decided $1.1 million was a fair price for the player.
Or was it…
“He still has plenty of bat speed, he’s versatile in terms of being a kid that can play third, second and first base, and shortstop. And tremendous leadership and tremendous experience,” Yost said, in the same story.
There’s the magic phrase: leadership and experience.
Miguel Tejada was last a good player in 2009, which was four years ago. He last played in the major leagues in 2011, which was two years ago. But somehow his “leadership and experience”, on a team that all of a sudden is filled with leadership-and-experience-narrative dudes, overshadows any tangible value or any very tangible risk.
Baseball payrolls and player acquisitions – especially for a small market – is about playing the odds. Odds are Jeff Francoeur will not repeat his “great” 2011 (in which he was just perfectly average), because he’s had more awful seasons than average ones. And odds are that Miguel Tejada will be little more than a drain on the payroll with limited production both offensively and defensively. Maybe there’s a chance this a good pickup and Tejada is actually production. There just aren’t any objective measures that say that’s possible.
And the bigger issue is there’s a player in the organization in Irving Falu who could provide exactly the same value, for half the cost.