Granted, for the duration of one year, it was a relatively small risk, but the idea that the Giants felt Tejada could perform adequately—either at the plate or in the field, or both—as an everyday shortstop is mind boggling.
The Giants were desperate, I get it. They lacked options from within their organization. They were judicious enough to acknowledge that Edgar Renteria is no longer a starter in this league, so he spurned the Giants $1 million offer to play for the Reds.
Ultimately, I am questioning the Giants' decision to sign Tejada as much as I am questioning fans for expecting him to produce anywhere near his recent track record.
Tejada is done, and there were many indicators that should have made this more clear.
First off, they signed him to be an everyday shortstop, when, at his age (36), it doesn't make much sense. The Orioles didn't think he was cut out for shortstop last year at age 35, and even though Padres manager Bud Black told The Chronicle that Tejada was serviceable for them at shortstop for the two months after they acquired him, to believe he could do it all year is not reasonable.
And considering he is a borderline liability on defense, he must outperform his most recent track record (2010: .269/.312/.380, 15 HR, 71 RBI), when in reality, due to his age and steroid history, he is most likely going to have a career-worst year offensively.
Players who have used steroids extensively typically have quick and steep declines in production. Because their numbers have been inflated from raging on 'roids, as their body breaks down, their numbers drop drastically, more so than the average player.
Tejada on Wednesday upped his average over .200, and now has a line of .213/.246/.287, one HR, 10 RBI.
The only thing surprising about his struggles is that he is striking out less (nine) often than his already impressive career strikeout rate—perhaps offering a glimpse of hope that he may turn it around.
And while Pablo Sandavol is out and Tejada moves over to third base temporarily, you might see a slight surge in production.
Best case scenario for the Giants is that Tejada gets hurt, misses extensive time, and Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot fill in for him. If Tejada doesn't hit, there is no reason for him to play and the longer they stick with him while he offers nothing at the plate, the more the team suffers unnecessarily.
It is clear that the Giants still are holding out hope that he will hit—when you pay him $6.5 million, you kind of have to—but an injury will take that decision out of their hands, and they can at least have a steady defender at shortstop every night.
Outside of the ninth inning at bat in early April at AT&T park against the Cardinals, when Tejada seemed locked in on Ryan Franklin (but who hasn't?) in a long battle at the plate and ended up hitting a game winning shot to center field, Tejada has looked overmatched and over-the-hill.
Perhaps the Tejada signing was something the Giants had to do; $6.5 million isn't a whole lot in this day and age, and the Giants surely thought the odds of him producing were decent.
I simply disagree with that thought, as well as any thought of him picking it up this year.