New York Mets News

Ruben Tejada: Misunderstood Or Misfire?

By Rich Sparago

Today, Sandy Alderson said it was “unlikely” that the Mets would sign Stephen Drew. So if that statement holds, the Mets are looking at Ruben Tejada as their 2014 shortstop. This is puzzling, especially since both Alderson and Terry Collins have expressed negative sentiments about Tejada. Consider Collins’s words about Tejada during the 2013 season.

Sep 11, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) wears an NYPD cap in remembrance of 9/11/01 during batting practice before a game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

"If the perception of you is that you’re lazy, then you’re lazy."

Alderson had the following to say about Tejada after last season.

"I don’t see Ruben as part of the core going forward….it’s like pulling teeth to get Ruben to do extra work."

After openly pursuing Jhonny Peralta early in the off-season, Alderson has been in and out of the Drew sweepstakes. With the opening of spring training 2 days away, Alderson is now in the awkward spot of going to Tejada, whom he sent to fitness camp (along with other players) this winter. Some fans are happy to have Tejada as the projected shortstop, while others are far less enthusiastic. Let’s look at both sides of the debate.

Tejada is misunderstood. Those who ascribe to this position say that Tejada is a young player (24), who had a good season as recently as 2012. In that year, Tejada hit .289 with a .333 OBP and a 0.2 UZR. Also, as a utility player in 2010 and 2011, Tejada hit .213 and .284 respectively. Additionally, Tejada’s advocates cite his line-drive percentage in 2013, noting that 51% of Tejada’s drives became hits vs. 69% of the line-drives that on average become hits across baseball. Therefore, Tejada hits in bad luck, and should have a much higher average. Based on his line-drive percentage, age, and the fact that he deserves a second chance, Tejada should be the 2014 shortstop. Also, those in this camp wonder just how much better Drew is than Tejada, generally saying that Drew is worth about 1-2 more wins.

Mets will misfire with Tejada at shortstop. People who feel this way start with spring training 2012. Tejada, the new Mets’ shortstop, was asked to arrive early by Terry Collins to work with new DP parter, Daniel Murphy. Tejada did not arrive early; he arrived on time. Fast forward to his dreadful 2013 season (.202 average and .259 OBP). To make matters worse, Tejada seemed out of shape and lethargic. He did not field well. He was ultimately demoted to AAA after an injury. Then there’s the other consideration with Tejada. He does not run nor field well (2 career home runs and 13 career stolen bases). So the question is, by giving him a second chance, what is the realistic expectation of what he can do? How high is his ceiling? It should be noted that Tejada has left fitness camp, and has yet to report to spring training (many Mets have been there for over a week).

Question to the readers: into which camp do you fall? Is Tejada a young shortstop with a decent upside, who has been unlucky? Or is Tejada simply not a good shortstop, and going to him for 2014 is a decision the Mets will regret? Let us know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow@RisingAppleBlog on Twitter and Instagram, and Like Rising Apple’s Facebook page to keep up with the latest news, rumors, and opinion.