This has been a sad week for me.
The Mets officially gave up on 26 year old shortstop Ruben Tejada, and the worst part is, I can’t even blame them. Aside from the fact that my Tejada jersey will never be worn again and my autographed Tejada ball will move its way to the back of the collection, Tejada just never lived up to his potential, and that is most disappointing. This season they have a younger, cheaper, descent enough backup shortstop in Wilmer Flores, new starter in Asdrubal Cabrera, and then 3 young guys rising through the system with no current space and not nearly the $3 million that would have been due to Tejada had he made the 25 man roster.
For those who know me, you know I have been #TeamTejada since day one. We all saw the writing on the wall when Reyes’ contract was expiring, and even Reyes himself anointed Tejada as his successor. Tejada came up as a 20 year old to fill the void of injuries on the big club, usually Reyes’. In his second stint with the club he batted .284 with a .360 OBP as a 21 year old, opening many fans eyes to what may lay ahead. Jose even took Ruben under his wing and tried to groom him to be his successor, giving him advice and working out with him in the off-season. He had the solid glove and a solid contact bat to be a part of this team for years to come. But a lack of motivation, or dedication, to himself as well as the game, derailed the now 26 year olds potential in Mets brass eyes. Whether it was lack of focus, showing up to camp out of shape, or being too passive, he wasn’t a fit for this team or this city and he wore out his welcome, unfortunately, too quickly.
While he may not have lived up to the expectations in the Big Apple, at just 26, don’t be surprised if he were to take off in St. Louis. He is stepping into an organization that identifies talent better than any other franchise in my lifetime. He knows the shortstop position is his until Peralta recovers from his injury, and that alone should foster confidence as he won’t have to look over his shoulder on a daily basis. The Cardinals know how to fit together what others may deem odd looking pieces and make them work, usually leading to playoff appearance after playoff appearance, better than anyone. They don’t get tied up in names, stars and spotlights. They look for solid production and hopefully they receive that with Ruben. Maybe his release from the only organization he has known since he signed as a 16 year old out of Panama will reignite the passion and desire he had coming up as a teenager.
While his Mets career may have ended on a sour note thanks to Chase Utley and his “officially legal” dirty slide, at least he got to see and feel the love and support from the fanbase as they, and the team, rallied behind him one last time, en route to their first World Series appearance since 2000.
Good Bye and Good Luck, Ruben.