Were Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada the Problem All Along?

Manny RandhawaCorrespondent IIIAugust 31, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 17:  Aaron Rowand #33 of the San Francisco Giants in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 6-5 in the twelfth inning.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Brian Wilson was breaking a bat with his beard, in slow motion of course, in the dugout Wednesday afternoon, and there were Giants (that's right, Giants) seen smiling.

One of the longest home runs ever hit at AT&T Park was being oohed-and-awed over, and it wasn't hit by Alfonso Soriano. It was hit into San Francisco Bay by Pablo Sandoval.

An offense was stifled Wednesday, shut-out and held to a meager two hits. But it wasn't San Francisco's offense. It was the Chicago Cubs'.

A man with 25 home runs and 107 RBI was in the dugout, and it wasn't the visitor's dugout. Sure, those 25 jacks were hit in Triple-A, but the Giants would take a little leaguer with that type of pedigree right now.

With the mid-game arrival of Brett Pill, something the defending world champions had forgotten how to feel had once again returned to the clubhouse.


Perhaps the biggest lift to the beleaguered Giants, as evidenced in their 4-0 victory over the Cubs Wednesday afternoon, came Wednesday morning, when Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada were designated for assignment and rumors sprung that Giants GM Brian Sabean plans to trade them before the day is out.

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 17:  Miguel Tejada #10 of the San Francisco Giants reacts to a called strike during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Gia
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Aaron Rowand has been maligned mercilessly for not living up to his five-year, $60 million dollar contract with the Giants.

As a Giant, Rowand hit just .253 with a .310 on-base percentage over four seasons. By contrast, he hit .290 and .283 with the Phillies and White Sox, respectively.

This season, Rowand hit a paltry .233 with 4 home runs and 21 RBI. His on-base percentage was .274.

Miguel Tejada, a once-great power hitter who won the American League MVP award in 2002, was anything but great in the Orange and Black.

Tejada hit .239 with 4 homers and 26 RBI, with a .270 on-base percentage for the Giants this season.

Beyond the sheer stats, however, there is evidence that both of these players were severe distractions as well as detractors in a Giants clubhouse that prided itself on its jovial, loose, and friendly environment.

The self-proclaimed "Band of Misfits" that improbably won the World Series last fall has not been itself lately, and Rowand and Tejada apparently were big reasons why.

According to Andrew Baggarly, Giants beat writer for the San Jose Mercury News, "Rowand's complaining reached critical levels," and one player said "he's doing everything possible to get out of here."

And as for Tejada, the veteran's displeasure at being asked to drop down a sacrifice bunt on Sunday against the Astros made big news. Tejada was quoted as saying "I just work here", and made no bones about the fact that he didn't think that bunting was his job, despite his poor showing all season long at the plate.

Obviously these two weren't following the "Band of Misfits" code, and were very likely detracting in a very significant way from the team's chemistry, which was so central to its success in 2010.

As much as could be visibly gathered from the Giants on Wednesday afternoon, on the field and off, it seemed as if a burden had been lifted from their collective shoulders, and some of the character and color that had been drained from this club over the past two months had finally returned.

Let's hope that color becomes vibrant again, and leads this club out of the deep hole they've dug themselves into.