Results tagged ‘ Miguel Tejada ’
Is he done?
Almost certainly. After he went unsigned in the 2011-2012 offseason, the Orioles signed him in May on the chance that he had something left and could help them. He spent six weeks with the Tides, in which he showed he could play a competent third base. But he had no offensive speed — which was expected — and no power — which was not. If he doesn’t have power, he can’t contribute anything. He asked for and was granted his release in late June, and didn’t play anywhere else. I don’t know if he’s formally announced his retirement, but I don’t sense that he’s desperate to play or that anyone else is desperate to have him.
UPDATE — Tejada signed a non-guaranteed contract with Kansas City for 2013.
What’s his legacy? Is he a Hall of Famer?
I don’t think he’ll get into the Hall of Fame, although he’s got better credentials than some who are in. Statistically, the most-similar player was Ryne Sandberg, and it’s not a bad match. But Sandberg was somewhat more versatile offensively than Tejada; he was better defensively; and he was regarded as the best second baseman of his era. None of that applies to Tejada.
Probably, his legacy will be part of the Moneyball controversy. Billy Beane worshippers will claim that the Oakland A’s early-2000′s success was a function of Beane’s jumping on the sabermetric bandwagon early and following sabermetric principles. His detractors point out that four key members of that team — Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, and Tejada – pre-date Beane and were not underrated by traditional measures. Fairly or not, I think that’s how Tejada will be remembered.
In a baseball team’s season, there can be defining moments. Moments in which the team’s performance and results turn 180 degrees — either from success to failure or failure to success. The 2012 Norfolk Tides had such a radical shift in results. On June 12, the Tides completed a 3-5 eight-game road trip to upstate New York, with a season record of 29-38. After a day off, they took the field against the Toledo Mud Hens. Beginning with that June 14 game, the Tides have gone 18-7, moving to an overall record of 47-45 and trailing the first-place Charlotte Knights by only three games.
With such a substantial turnaround, the obvious question is “Did something happen in that June 14 that triggered the change? Was there a play that, in retrospect, started a shift in thinking to “Yes, we can win it”? As it happens, there may have been one in that June 14 game.
The Tides took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, after which Mud Hen starter Adam Wilk faced the minimum fifteen batters during the second through the sixth innings. Norfolk starter Miguel Gonzalez was as impressive in his five innings, with the exception of three-batter stretch in the second inning in which he surrendered two runs on a single, double, and single. With the Tides trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the seventh inning and producing virtually no offense, it looked like another defeat.
But our hopes were lifted when Lew Ford smote Wilk’s first pitch of the inning down the right-field line for a double. And Miguel Tejada lined the second pitch he saw from Wilk down the left-field line. Ford raced around third to score the tying run. Our elation turned to disappointed resignation when the slow-moving Tejada was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a double. We now prepared for a long extra-inning game, probably ending in defeat.
Bill Hall came to the plate. He hit the first pitch on a high fly to right field. The ball kept carrying and carrying, until it struck the roof of the party deck for a tie-breaking home run! And Norfolk relievers Rich Rundles and Pat Neshek retired the Mud Hens in order to preserve the win.
As I mentioned earlier, this game was the first win in an 18-7 stretch that has brought the Tides into contention. If the Tides remain in contention, or (gasp!) even win the division or make the post-season, I’ll think of Bill Hall’s home run as the moment that turned the season around.
I have been very fortunate. Three of the last four Tides games I’ve seen and worked have been very well-played games, the third being last night’s game against Toledo. Specifically, from the second batter forward the defense for both teams was very good. The fielding was all the more impressive because the game was played with a vigorous wind blowing from left field to right field. Right fielder L.J. Hoes battled the wind to make several nice catches.
Tides’ starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez made three nice plays in the first two innings. Ben Guez hit a ground ball fielded by the first baseman and Gonzalez alertly got to first base to receive the throw and put out Guez. Rob Brantly hit a twisting squibber down the first-base line; Gonzalez hustled to the ball and threw Brantly out at first. And Audy Ciriaco hit a sharp ground ball up the middle which Gonzalez speared and threw to first.
Miguel Tejada showed good range to his left, ranging in front of shortstop and firing a strong throw. Caleb Joseph threw out a runner trying to steal. There were only two bad defensive plays, and they led to the Mud Hens’ runs. Chris Robinson at first base misjudged a foul popup and let it drop behind him, about three feet from first base; given another chance, Jerad Head doubled in the first run. And Head scored on a single when L.J. Hoes’ throw to the plate was well up the third-base line.
Ironically, in the immediately-preceding game at Buffalo, the Tides committed six errors. I’m thinking that that game was the aberration.
The Tides begin an eight-game homestand against the Toledo Mud Hens and the Buffalo Bisons tonight. It’s become almost pointless to try to write any sort of preview of a Tides’ series, because it seems that the Orioles are signing new players and assigning them to Norfolk on a daily basis. Bill Hall, Lew Ford, Joel Pineiro, Miguel Tejada, Jamie Moyer, Nate McLouth — all of these are former major-league players who have been signed after opening day and sent to the Tides. The most recent addition is Rich Rundles, who is not quite in the same class of players because his major-league career consists of nine games.
I don’t know for sure whether the Orioles are accumulating these players on the hope that they will help the major-league team as role players or that they will help the Tides be more competitive. Although the primary purposes of a minor-league team are (1) to develop and refine young players’ talents and (2) to stockpile players who can be called up as need be, having a winning team is nice, especially for the owner of the minor-league team. A successful, winning team generates a positive buzz in the community. The local media starts talking about the team. Casual fans and non-fans start thinking about maybe seeing a game. We saw this with the local minor-league hockey team, which won their last 28 games of the regular season and went on the win the league playoff championship. Attendance boomed.
Perhaps the idea behind signing every recently-released major leaguer and sending them to Norfolk, then, is to placate the Tides’ management by sending them better players, with well-known names, to try to spike attendance. I see two problems with that reasoning — first, the constant roster turnover makes it difficult to identify with the players; and second, the fans realize that Miguel Tejada and Jamie Moyer are clearly hanging on, past their prime, and aren’t really interested in seeing these geezers play at their current levels. At least I’m not; I’d much rather see young players who may become the next Bill Hall or Lew Ford than seeing old players who were once Nate McLouth and Joel Pineiro – who were once the Nate McLouth and Joel Pineiro tomorrow’s baseball fans will hear about.
When, as in the International League, a team plays 144 games, there’s going to be a fair share of clunkers. One-sided blowouts, slow-moving slogs, exhibitions of poor play — those are the risks a patron of a baseball game takes when purchasing a ticket to a particular game. If a first-time attendee happens to stumble across one of those sleep-inducers, he or she may never go to another.
On the other hand, a fan who attended Friday’s game between between the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and the Norfolk Tides saw baseball at its best as an entertainment option. A bit of background — the Tides played Scranton (in Batavia, New York, for reasons that you either know or don’t need to know) in mid-April. Two of the scheduled four games were postponed by bad weather, and because Norfolk only makes one visit to the Yankees every year, the games were rescheduled to this series between the two teams in Norfolk. So Friday’s game became a doubleheader. In the minor leagues, doubleheaders are two seven-inning games. So the first game was scheduled to be a seven-inning game.
With the preliminaries out of the way, let me start with the linescore:
This was a seesaw game in which neither team ever led by more than one run. There was longball — Corban Joseph gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the first; Jamie Hoffman tied the game in the bottom of the first and Jai Miller gave the Tides a 3-2 lead in the fourth with solo home runs. There was clutch hitting — the Yankees’ second and third runs scored on two-out singles wtih runners in scoring position. The pitching wasn’t dominant, but obviously all the pitchers kept their opponents from blowing the game open. The defense was outstanding. Not only were all the routine plays handled routinely, but also Scranton shortstop Ramiro Pena seemingly fielded every ground ball he could get to, and made strong, accurate throws. Tides first baseman Joe Mahoney turned a high chop into a nifty 3-6 forceout.
In the top of the seventh, I saw what may have been the most perfectly executed play, by everyone involved, that I have ever seen. Scranton’s Kevin Russo laid down as perfectly placed a bunt down the third-base line as a Yankee fan could hope for. But Tides third baseman Miguel Tejada charged in, grabbed the ball with his bare hand, and threw hard to first base. The throw was low and slightly toward second base, but Mahoney was able stretch and scoop the throw on a short hop to put Russo out. Mike, the official scorer, and I both agreed that that was as well-executed a play on all ends that we had ever seen.
Fittingly, the game ended in the bottom of the last inning. With one out, Carlos Rojas walked and was replaced at first base by pinch-runner L.J. Hoes, making his AAA debut. On a 3-2 pitch, Xavier Avery, recently sent down by Baltimore, singled Hoes to third. Veteran Lew Ford continued his hot hitting by slamming a game-winning single to right-center field, scoring Hoes. As soon as we in the press box saw the speed and trajectory of Ford’s hit, we knew it was game over — or, as an umpire once said in a similar situation in a recreational softball game I was playing — “Handshakes, everyone.”
The second game? Fittingly, it was rained out and rescheduled for the following day. It would have been hard for any other game to top the first one as an entertainment.
Will he develop into a useful pitcher?
Orioles fans may remember Pelzer as the player the team got from the Padres when they unloaded Miguel Tejada in 2010. Prior to the 2010 season, Baseball America rated him as a top ten prospect in the Padres’ farm system, and Orioles fans were hoping that they got a good pitcher for the future.
In retrospect, Pelzer’s prospect status said more about how barren the Padres’ system was than about how good Pelzer was. He was coming off two pretty good seasons as a starting pitcher in A-Ball, but at ages 22 and 23. Promoted to AA, he lost his control and was shifted to the bullpen; then was traded to Baltimore; then continued to struggle with his control. His walk-to-strikeout ratios in the last two seasons have been 63-103 (2010) and 54-72 (2011). He’s walking more than five batters per nine innings, which is inadequate. When he throws as hard as he can, he loses his control; when he tries to control his pitches, he becomes very hittable.
Pelzer’ll be 26 in 2012 and has yet to have mastered Double-A. He may start 2012 in Norfolk just for a change of scenery or because there’s nobody better; he hasn’t earned it by his performance. At this point, he doesn’t project to have much of a major league career.