Let’s hope Ruben Tejada just has the jitters
Shortstop Ruben Tejada is supposed to play a pretty crucial role in the imagined rebuilding of the Mets.
Picture, if you will, elite pitching prospect Zack Wheeler and catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud reaching their full potential, taking places as frontline starters alongside ace Matt Harvey, first baseman Ike Davis and third baseman David Wright.
The Mets still need to fill the remainder of the roster. Whether it is pitchers like Dillon Gee and Bobby Parnell sparing the team from needing to spend money on a mid-rotation starter and closer, or Daniel Murphy and Tejada filling roles up the middle, the Mets need the promising parts they have on hand to come through.
Little is available in the near future through the farm system in any of these areas, and free agency requires both a player worth spending on, and the ability and inclination from ownership to do so.
So Tejada's rocky start in the field, highlighted by a two-run throwing error in Tuesday night's 9-8 loss to the Colorado Rockies, is a worrying thing.
Tejada has made six errors already this season. Errors are a highly imperfect way of measuring defense generally, but as it applies to Tejada, it is noteworthy because he doesn't draw raves for his range. Instead, it is supposed to be his steady play that makes him a good choice at shortstop.
That steadiness alone still rated him below average defensively last season.
He isn't making it up with his bat. Since 2011, his O.P.S.+ is 93, which is below league average at any position, and just 13th of 25 shortstops with at least 200 games played over that span. (First of that group goes to Jose Reyes with a robust 127.)
Tejada is just 23. And in the abstract, players that young who hold their own at the major league level turn into significantly better players as they age. There are two problems with assuming this for Tejada, though. One is that unlike most of those players, Tejada doesn't have many physical tools that seem to predict improvement over time. He isn't particularly fast, or possesses a great throwing arm, or much power, or a frame capable of adding it, or significant patience at the plate.
The other is that generally, players who debuted as young as Tejada did so because their minor league performance forced the major league teams to promote them. That wasn't the case with Tejada; the Mets simply didn't have middle infield alternatives or the means to go out and get them.
As soon as the team is able to supplement whichever prospects develop with talent via trade or free agency, the Mets can stop relying on players like Ruben Tejada to be better than they are.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Everybody wore Jackie Robinson's number, a second baseman named for him hit a three-run homer, and the last man to wear 42 full-time got the save in a 4-2 win.
Andy Pettitte pronounced himself ready for his next start.
The team signed Quentin Richardson, who played with the Knicks from 2005-2009.
The Nets learn their first round playoff opponent Wednesday night.