Although he ended the Mets furious rally against Craig Kimbrel and the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night with a strikeout, it’s time we put aside our prejudices and applaud Ruben Tejada for providing solid play at shortstop out of the gate.
Sure, Tejada is no world beater, but who said he had to be? It’s not like he’s been awful to start the season.
After Wednesday night’s o-fer, Tejada is now batting .240 to go along with a solid .345 OBP and meager .280 slugging percentage. Again, nothing earth shattering, but not abysmal either.
All offseason and into the spring, the Mets searched far and wide and made their intentions known that they were in the market for a new shortstop for 2014. It couldn’t have been more obvious. They courted Jhonny Peralta hard, but he went on to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals. They have also been involved in talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks (for either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings) and the Seattle Mariners (for either Brad Miller or moreover Nick Franklin) regarding their surplus at the shortstop position.
The Mets have even kept tabs on free agent Stephen Drew, but he unfathomably is still unsigned.
Alas, noting came to fruition in the offseason and for a matter of speaking, the Mets were basically stuck with Tejada. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, yet that is where the Mets and Tejada stand today.
A lot of people in the Mets organization have bee put off by Tejada’s perceived lack of hustle and determination to get better. Many believe his work ethic is second rate and that he rarely plays the game with the passion you want from a shortstop.
With all the people (including fans) that don’t want him being the Mets shortstop, Tejada is not playing all that bad in the face or major adversity. He’s been ok at the bottom of the lineup and is playing solid defense in the field.
When you’re basically persona non grata, it’s hard to do your job and do so effectively. But credit Tejada for making the most of his opportunity this season.
That said, how much time does Tejada have left with the Mets?
If Tejada ever goes into a prolonged slump (as he’s destined to do), those clamoring for a new shortstop will consume Queens. Writers will write about it, bloggers will blog about it and fans will make their presence known on social media that Tejada is not cutting it. They will make it tough on Tejada—as if it hasn’t been bad enough—to succeed in New York.
Will Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson cave into pressure and ultimately sign Drew or reengage in talks with the Diamondbacks and the Mariners?
That remains to be seen.
The consensus opinion, though, is that Tejada is not long for the Mets and maybe a spit is indeed in the future. But for the time being, Tejada is making the most of a sticky situation and not being a complete mes out on the field.
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