Ruben Tejada: Another struggling Met that needs a fire lit under him

Yeah, yeah, let’s talk about yet another struggling Mets’ regular.

We have already discussed the struggles of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and John Buck, so it’s time we focus on another staple of the Mets’ lineup in Ruben Tejada.

In the early parts of the season, it was Tejada’s defense that had some fans nervous, but since May and perhaps with the temperature rising, Tejada’s glove has been steady ever since. No, we’re here to talk about his offense.

Just like Davis, Tejada has been a shell of his former self.

For the last couple of years, Tejada proved to be a steady bat. While he is no world beater, Tejada was more than adequate,  hitting .289 last year and a .284 in 2011. Tejada was also solid at getting on base, as he had a .360 on base percentage last year and a .333 mark in 2011.

However, just like most of the Mets, Tejada is immersed in a prolonged slump to start the 2013 season—even going all the way back to the beginning of spring training. Thus far, Tejada is only spotting a measly .217/.287/.280 slash line with just nine doubles and 10 RBI’s (Side note, it’s quite sad that Tejada has more RBI’s than Davis).

A problem for Tejada is his dip in line drive percentage.

Tejada is not hitting line drives at the rate he was in the last couple of years. In his first three years in the majors, Tejada incrementally boosted his line drive rates from 22 percent in his rookie year to a healthy 27 percent last year. This year Tejada’s line drive rate has dipped to just 20 percent. It seems Tejada is getting under the ball and flying out way too much (this particularly gets under the skin of Keith Hernandez). His .254 BABIP is also not doing him any favors either.

The thing with Tejada is that it is very hard to sit him due to the lack of options behind him. In fact, the Mets don’t really have a suitable backup to play shortstop, as Justin Turner can only play there in a pinch.

So this begs the question, when do the Mets make a play to call up Omar Quintanilla from Las Vegas?

I’d say it’s time that Quintanilla gets the call for the sole purpose of lighting a fire under Tejada. The message being that if Tejada doesn’t get his act in gear, he may see more time on the bench. Even on his own merits, Quintanilla is worthy of being recalled. Quintanilla is a solid stop-gap shortstop with a good glove who did enjoy some moderate success with the club last year.

Of course, Quintanilla is not the future at short for the Mets. But for the time being, a message has to be sent to Tejada. He has to start playing like he did the last two years or he could be looking at a reduced role.

7 comments for “Ruben Tejada: Another struggling Met that needs a fire lit under him

  1. Chris F
    May 18, 2013 at 9:06 am

    This is particularly painful, as I’ve been such a big advocate of Tejada. If he could bat .290 and have an OBP of .360 or more, and drive up pitch counts with 6-10 p ABs I’d be plenty happy combined with the glove. But the offensive production is so poor I’m just bummed. I saw RT as a consistent guy until this year. Brining up Q makes perfect sense anyway. He’s 23 and learning still, but I had hoped he would be cementing solid skills by now and improving, not retreating so much on both sides of the ball. He’s certainly earned the time to get this figured out…I just hope it’s sooner rather than later. He needs hits and to score runs!

    As an aside, while he picked up the E in yesterday’s game, it was a tough play with a spin to throw. Sure I want RT to throw a strike there, but it was on line and Ike had more than a short hop to scoop it, which he should have been able to do. We have talked about Ike’s GG potential, but I simply don’t see that at all.

  2. Metsense
    May 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

    In 2012 the average NL SS had a .697 OPS . RT had a slighty below average .685 ops. This year’s regression is something a marginally average player like RT can’t afford but management constructed this team so that the options aren’t easy. Turner is the backup but he is not trusted at SS, and who really believes he is a SS. If TC believed Turner was a SS then he would insert him there occasionally while RT struggles .JV was a minor league SS but after his 2012 cameo there, TC doesn’t trust him. I’m not sure or not if that was too quick an assessment but the point is TC won’t use him in an obvious R-L situation. The backup is at AAA and not on the 40 man roster so a move means someone will need to be removed. This team left ST with 3 second basemen and all three playing out of their natural positions along with the left fielder. This all should have been addressed last winter. RT did not have a pedigree to be run out there everday and a veteran backup ( like Ronnie Cedeno) would have been prudent and Q would work also. RT is the SS but management dropped the ball in getting him some help.

  3. Name
    May 18, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Another reason to fire TC. In case some of you forgot, TC called out Tejada for merely coming to Spring Training ON TIME. So this year, Tejada didn’t follow his own schedule and decided to appease TC by coming to Spring Training early. As a result, we have seen his defense and offensive drop off.
    Many know I have an unhealthy fascination of Q, but in my opinion he would be much more valuable than having a 6th OF, even more so if TC is willing to use Turner occasionally in the OF. We currently only have 1 backup to all the infield positions.

    • Joe Vasile
      May 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Well it’s extremely hard to say that Tejada’s struggles are caused by his early report to spring training, because there’s no way to really separate the correlation from causation, but there might be something there. I thought that TC calling Tejada out for coming on time last year wa a little ridiculous. Unless there was some agreement where TC told Tejada to come early and he came on time, there was no need to call him out like that.

  4. Joe Vasile
    May 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Well, Tejada’s BABIP is pretty unlucky, but as you mentioned, his swing has been getting long and hitting more flyballs recently. Jeff Zimmerman’s model projects Tejada’s xBABIP as .304 (if I did my math right), so he’s about .050 points below that now, and so there should be some regression that takes place once he gets his swing righted and is back to a ~30 LD%.

    • May 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Since line drive data is available in 2002, there have been two seasons where a player qualified for the batting title and had a 30% or greater LD% – Mark Loretta and Brian Roberts, both in 2003.

      There are only six qualified seasons greater than 28%.

      There are 1,685 qualified seasons and a 24% LD rate puts you in the top 10 percent.

      • Joe Vasile
        May 19, 2013 at 11:12 am

        You’re right…30% is unrealistic, I was just using last year’s number as the reference point. 25% is more realistic for Tejada (26.1% career number).

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