As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Alex Rodriguez may have to withdraw from the WBC due to a hip injury.
You never like to see such a high-profile player go down to injury, but my thoughts immediately turned in a different direction than most people’s.
If Alex Rodriguez misses the WBC, does this make Miguel Tejada the Dominican Republic’s starting third baseman?
Tejada withdrew from the Classic after hearing a rumor that he was going to be used primarily as a first baseman. Then, with manager Felipe Alou’s eventual assurance that he would play shortstop, third base, and DH, he changed his mind and joined the team.
With Rodriguez in the lineup at third, and Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, it wasn’t immediately clear how much playing time Tejada would get in the infield. Now, that’s all changed.
Barring whomever would replace A-Rod on the roster, the only other third baseman currently with the team is Willy Aybar. Given that option, it seems reasonable to assume that Tejada would become the starting third baseman.
And that, as far as I’m concerned, is a problem for the Houston Astros.
I’m generally pro-WBC. I don’t mind players taking the added injury risk to play for their countries. LaTroy Hawkins, Roy Oswalt, and Carlos Lee are all involved in the classic, and bully for them. These are three guys who performed for the Astros last year. They did exactly the job they were asked to do, and they did it well.
But Tejada’s short tenure with the Astros has been tumultuous, at best. First, he was caught lying about his age. Then, he suffered a mid-season slump that hurt the team in a bad way. Next, he was indicted for lying to federal investigators. Then came the WBC.
Simply put, I feel pretty strongly that Miguel should be in camp. He should be getting reps as a shortstop. He should be preparing himself to earn the money he’s getting paid – an albatross contract, signed under false pretenses regarding his age. That contract, and the five players we gave up to get Tejada from the Orioles, could be singled out as the single-largest reason the Astros were unable to make a move of any merit this offseason.
The news that he may get significant playing time at another position doesn’t sit well with me.
Of course, there is another option, given the Astros’ holes at third base. If Tejada shows himself to be a competent third baseman, perhaps Coop may consider moving him there permanently, and allowing either Tommy Manzella or Drew Sutton to play shortstop, assuming Chris Johnson is sent to AAA at the end of Spring Training.
Knowing Cooper, that seems unlikely, but it is a possibility. Tejada’s still a better-fielding shortstop than he gets credit for (he had a 4.01 RFg in 2008, six points above adjusted league average), but he is aging (three years more quickly than we’d realized.)
In other news, Roy Oswalt will be on The Late Show With David Letterman tomorrow (Thursday) night for the Top 10 list: “Reasons To Watch The World Baseball Classic.”
It occurs to me that I probably could have milked about 30 articles each out of my last three articles. It would have saved me from the marathon sessions to get it all done in time, given me more posts, the indication of more activity, fewer unwieldy paragraphs, less for my reader(s) to have to digest at once…
But to be fair, I’m a guy who started a blog primarily to explain the Rule 4 Draft. I’m still finding my voice, and I expect to be completely awkward and long-winded and sing-songy and condescending and impossible to relate to most of the time. Much like Bobby Jindal’s Republican Response last night, come to think of it.
Seriously, did anyone else think he was going to try to sell them a ShamWow?
Yesterday, final rosters were announced for the World Baseball Classic. Ah, the World Baseball Classic. Just the name takes you back to the Golden Age of Baseball… 2005, when Bud Selig announced that there would be one and no one had any idea how it was going to be organized and put together competently in such a short amount of time.
Bud quickly answered that the way he answers most questions: It wasn’t.
Three years after the first Classic and we’re on the verge of its sophomore effort. Surely, you must have thought, the process has been cleaned up since then.
Think again. And don’t call me Shirley.
The Dominican Republic, which finished fourth in 2006, is going into this year’s edition of the WBC as one of the favorites to win. That’s why I was a little surprised when their roster was announced and an aging, fading veteran shortstop was added, behind two of the human race’s best shortstops in Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes.
His name? Miguel Tejada.
Hey, I thought, that’s my aging veteran shortstop with diminishing power numbers, fading durability, and an increasingly-suspect glove!
Well, not mine. But the Astros’. And they’re mine; I claimed them off waivers.
It didn’t seem to make a lot of sense for Tejada, who had to “re-dedicate” himself to conditioning this offseason… whose manager has said that he’s going to work to give more rest this year to keep him fresh… who is facing impending legal issues and has enough distractions… who was at best the third-best Dominican shortstop on the roster (Cano used to play a decent shortstop in the minors, you know)… to play in the World Baseball Classic.
He has a job to do, and hasn’t exactly put himself in a position to look like he’s not working toward that goal. The Astros sold the farm and took on his albatross contract. He isn’t exactly Carlos Lee or Roy Oswalt – guys who do the job they’re here to do, and who have relatively few question marks.
Then, this morning, news came that Tejada, like seemingly half of the Dominican roster, will be opting out of the Classic.
Why, Miguel, why?
According to this article by Alyson Footer, it wasn’t because he wanted to dedicate himself to winning over the Houston Astros fans who feel cheated by the deal that sent Matt Albers, Luke Scott, Dennis Sarfate, Michael Costanzo, and perhaps our only legitimate pitching prospect, Troy Patton, to the Orioles last offseason for Tejada, who was then outted for lying about his age, struggled through a long season slump that left many fans questioning his abilities (he finished .283/.314/.415 with just 13 home runs), and then followed it up by admitting he lied to a federal investigator about a teammate’s steroid use.
No, that’s not why. Rather, it’s because they might have wanted him to move to first base.
“I heard from somebody that they’re going to make me play first base or
another position,” Tejada said. “I don’t want to do that. I feel I’m a
good enough shortstop for me to be playing my postion. If they think
that I’m not, it’s good to let somebody else play.
“I love my country and I respect my country. I don’t want to do
something where I can hurt my country. If I play another position that
I’ve never played, I might hurt my country. I might make an error,
because I don’t know how to play first base. I don’t know how to play
another position. I could do something wrong, and I don’t want to do
I want you to re-read that. I heard from somebody that they’re going to make me play first base or another position.
Okay, I get it. You have Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes. They are both better shortstops than Miguel is. But first base? Is someone who has played 1,832 professional games – all of them at shortstop (not counting 23 games as a DH) – the best the mighty Dominican Republic can do at first base?
I understand Albert Pujols and Carlos Pena can’t play; and that David Ortiz is a fat tub of goo whose range almost approaches my own grandmother’s; but Miguel Tejada at first base? Why not Placido Polanco or Jhonny Peralta? Heck, why not Francisco Liriano, at that point?
But what concerns me the most is the way Tejada phrased it: “I heard from somebody that they’re going to make me play first base…” He heard from somebody. Not from Felipe Alou, I’m guessing, or from anyone on the Dominican coaching staff. Then he would have said, “They told me that they want me to play first base.” Not I heard from somebody. Not They’re going to make me. Not First base or another position.
Couldn’t someone pick up the phone and call the guy? Ask him if he’d be interested in playing first base? Tell him where they’d like to use him? You just put him on the roster and try to let him figure out where he’s going to be playing?