Tuesday, November 30, 2010


More Miggy Magic

First things first. I don't like Miguel Tejada. Not one bit. He's got to be one of my least favorite players in the league. He's one of the whiniest players I've ever seen, going back to his days with the A's, and he turned on-field bitching and moaning into an art form. He was one of the worst MVP choices in history in 2002, then had an epic brainfart in the 2003 ALDS. He mysteriously aged two years in one offseason, and, thanks to the Mitchell Report and Rafael Palmeiro's backstabbing, he has the steroid stink on him. His "my (bleeping) kids are in the stands" rant after the A's lost the ALDS to the Red Sox in 2003 is an all-time classic in the annals of "stop talking, you lost" fame. To put it mildly, I just bloody can't stand this guy.

So now he's going to replace our beloved Juan Uribe as the Giants' starting shortstop in 2011. For the amount of whine we're about to get, we're gonna need a damn big corkscrew (yeah, yeah).

The Tejada who we used to see in Oakland hitting home runs and crying over missed interference calls when he should have just kept freaking running is gone. Long live the slow, declining hitter who no longer has the range for shortstop and who was recently jettisoned by two of the worst teams in baseball. Giants pitchers will shudder at the prospect of a Tejada-Pablo left side of the infield, which features gaping holes that would make the Irish economy proud (sorry, Ireland, just know I love ye).

When I first caught wind of the deal, I was apoplectic, but at $6 million for one year, it isn't too bad, largely because the other shortstop options around are grim (moreso than Tejada, at least). I guess it was either overpay Uribe, trade for a guy like Jason Bartlett, or pin our noses and watch Emmanuel Burriss try to figure out major league pitching. Given these less appealing options, this signing is a little easier to take. Whatever keeps the Giants from a repeat of Bocock is fine in my book.

Just two years ago Tejada hit .313 in the National League. He didn't compliment that with much power or any kind of plate discipline, but heck, that production would have represented an above-average shortstop in 2010. It's not out of the question that he could do that again. He also put up some relatively good numbers while hitting in the Petco Park dead zone after being traded to the Padres. His upside for 2011 is probably 15 homers with a decent batting average. Remember that, despite his World Series heroics, Edgar Renteria was solidly below average with the bat in his two years here. Tejada would be an upgrade at the plate at the position.

It's the glove I'm more worried about. Tejada was always an overrated defensive player and now that he's gotten older he just really stinks. His status as a starter would merit a late-inning defensive replacement type, but the Giants already need one of those guys for Sandoval. Not to mention, where is that versatile glove guy going to come from? Mike Fontenot? Did you see him against the Phillies? Burriss? The data from his extended starting stints in 2008 and 2009 show that he was actually pretty crappy. Mark Derosa? He's got the power, but not the ability to play shortstop.

Tejada at this point is probably best utilized as a utility player in the Uribe mold, but I doubt that the Giants are paying him this much money to do anything other than start 150 games. I don't hate the deal in a baseball sense, because at one year even a poor performance isn't a long-term killer. I hate the deal because I have to root for this guy for an entire season.

They're gonna live with Miggy for 2011 and then make a big move for Reyes.

It'll be fine.
Had we signed Uribe for a contract like Tejada's, there would have been hosannas all thru Giant-dom. Now, much whining. But leaving aside the players' (to me irrelevant) personalities, Tejada is only marginally less good than Uribe by WAR over the last couple of years--Uribe's (anomalous?) bests--as computed by Fangraphs or, differently, by baseball reference; and virtually the same by Bill James's projections for 2011. We got Tejada for less money and much less commitment. We lost no players for a one-year rental, as with Bartlett or Hardy. We are not going to get robbed because of our perceived need at shortstop. I'm happy, given the circumstances.
BBref's WAR has Uribe as substantially better over the past two years (Uribe 2.0 to Tejada's 1.4 last year, 3.3 to 0.5 in 2009). Uribe's defense by the same metric is also way better. BBref's fielding WAR had Tejada at an atrocious -20 in '09. I guess it just depends on which version of WAR you hold to a higher esteem. Uribe is also younger and less likely to collapse due to loss of bat speed and whatnot.

I don't hate the deal from a baseball standpoint. It's a sound move and it's better than handing Uribe a three-year deal like the Dodgers did. As a fan I don't like it because I just really don't like Tejada's demeanor on and off the field, but I guess if he produces I can deal.
You and I aren't far apart, I agree, in our overall appraisals. But as to the stats, is Uribe substantially better? maybe, maybe not. Depends what one is looking at. Tejada's 2010 WAR in the National L. was 1.8, according to BBref, to Uribe's 2. That's pretty similar w/in a similar competitive environment. Defense? Yes, BBref had Tejada's defense dreadful in 2009, but by their numbers his offensive WAR was 2.7 that year, compared with Uribe's 2.5; and in 2010 Tejada in the NL had a defensive WAR of .6, to Uribe's .2. I don't see a whole lot of difference. Bill James's projections for 2011 don't suggest a lot of difference either.
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