SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Miguel Tejada #10 of the San Francisco Giants breaks his bat on a play against the Oakland A's at AT&T Park. The Giants won 5-4 in 11 innings. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Miguel Tejada used to be a star with the A's, but now he's just looking to get an invitation to spring training with them. Ten years is a long, long time.
Looks like he's encased in gelatin and trying to hit his way out. Swings like he's still wearing his mitt; fields like he's still holding his bat. Just swung when the catcher tried to pick the runner off first. Needs to hire team of scientists to run tests, see if he's really encased in gelatin. He has to be, right? Wonder if it's flavored gelatin.
It's all relative, of course -- there's a good chance that Miguel Tejada is still one of the 100 or 200 best shortstops on the planet, but he certainly didn't look like one of the 30 best last year.
Tejada stands out from other shortstops who would love to sneak onto a roster -- say, Cody Ransom or Edwin Maysonet -- because we can remember how good he used to be. He received MVP votes in eight different seasons, making four AL All-Star teams against usually ridiculous competition. If you go by Baseball Reference's WAR, he was the 25th best shortstop to ever play the game.
He's not a shortstop anymore, and while he's hoping the A's would like the PR of bringing him back to fill in at third base, they have better players to evaluate. It's probably the end of the line for Tejada, who had a fantastic career.
That also means it's time to cross another name off the Moneyball list. There aren't a lot of players left from the 103-win 2002 A's, who are famous for winning 20 straight games and charging their players for sodas. Understandable, considering that was a little over 10 years ago. But it's easy to forget just how long 10 years is in baseball time. Two players received 10-year contracts this offseason (Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp), and while it's fashionable to note that the end of those contracts is likely to be a mess, it's worth noting just how different things can be in a decade.
- Three players from the 2002 A's should have large roles on their respective teams this year: Mark Ellis, Ramon Hernandez, and Tim Hudson. The middle infielder I can see, but who had the catcher and the short right-hander as the other players who would make it out the other side?
- Of all the players on the '02 A's, the one that almost every team would have offered a ten-year deal if they had a chance? Eric Chavez, no question. The A's locked him up for six years in 2004, choosing their 26-year-old third baseman over Tejada. When people get nervous about ten-year deals, players like Chavez are why.
- Barry Zito and Aaron Harang are still hanging on, but barely. Mark Mulder is out of the league. Other than Hudson, the two players who should be the most valuable in 2012 were traded for each other: Ted Lilly and Carlos Peña.
That's what ten years does to a young, talented roster. The old guys you expect to fade. But the even the young guys get behind cameras, drift away before you realize it, or have that Wile E. Coyote running-off-a-cliff moment where they realize that people aren't supposed to throw 100 m.p.h..
And most of all, ten years turns stars into players looking for a non-roster invitation. One more chance. They won't beg, really, but they'll at least talk to the media about it, which is the baseball players' Craigslist. Ten years is a long time in baseball years. Sometimes it takes a former star sending out his resumé to appreciate that truly.