I know I wasn’t the only one who had a puzzled reaction to the Royals signing of Miguel Tejada on New Year’s Eve. Had it happened later in the evening, I’d have sworn the next morning that it was just something I’d misread and blamed the festivities.
But it happened and it was real.
I panned the move. I had one reaction: snark. All sorts of snark. There was no way it could be a decent move or a logical one. Here was a guy who had played zero games in the majors in 2012 and was 39 years old. What good would that guy have on a major league team with hopes of contending in 2013?
And then, as spring training unfolded and it was clear Tejada would make the team, the Royals pushed him as a great clubhouse guy and a mentor. I called it a hard sell. Seems that the one thing a team will point to first when a questionable move happens is to go for intangible qualities as a talking point. Find things that have no numbers behind them to refute the point.
Turns out, he’s been plenty good. So good, in fact, that now, months later, I’m glad Dayton Moore made the signing.
With Chris Getz, Elliot Johnson and Johnny Giavotella struggling to produce anything all season at second base, recently, Tejada has taken it over. During inconsistent playing time at various infield spots, he’s put up a pretty solid line compared to the rest of the Royals. Here, I’ll test you. Pick out Tejada’s OPS after Saturday afternoon’s win over the Mets (a game in which Tejada had three hits):
No cheating. Give up? Here are the Royals next to their OPS figure
Here’s my rationale for disliking the signing in December. Tejada was an aging player and, again, he’d spent 2012 in the minors and had a .621 OPS. No wonder he didn’t get a look in the big leagues. Most players who are aging and on the way out aren’t usually going to make a comeback and be successful. The specter of PEDs loomed as well – how much was Tejada’s former glory the result of doping? And now, with MLB cracking down harder than ever (or trying to) on performance enhancers, what would he be able to offer without extra help? I played the odds and usually, that player isn’t going to be productive.
But the Royals saw something this winter. He hit .284/.336/.433 in 34 Dominican Winter League games. Others saw some promise in Tejada as well. Stan Croussett said the bat speed was there. Bernie Pleskoff said Tejada “could provide help” at second.
And now, with the Royals having no immediate help at second base (though Christian Colon is making a case for himself over the last five weeks), Tejada has been called into action. Even better, he’s producing.
So Mr. Tejada, please accept my apology. I was totally wrong and I’m glad that I am, because otherwise, we’d have nothing at second base. It’s not the first time I’ve been wrong. It’s not going to be the last.