Many have argued that David Ortiz and his late-blooming bat took the first couple months of the regular season off. Maybe as repayment, the slugger can work a little overtime and help out the Red Sox front office this offseason by calling up his pal Miguel Tejada.
Should Big Papi work his magic and get the Houston shortstop interested in speaking with the Sox brass, Theo Epstein and his crew need to open up the vault and sign the the six-time All-Star and 2002 AL MVP. Based on the depleted inventory of available shortstops, Tejada is the best answer at shortstop for the local nine in 2010. However, at age 35, he's clearly not the long-term solution at a position that has seen a variety of cast members since 2004.
Tejada just wrapped up the final year of his six-year, $72 million contract which paid him over $14 million in 2009. While no team would be smart to unleash that much money for a soon-to-be 36-year-old middle infielder, the Sox should have the room to offer an enticing deal to the slugger chock full of incentives — and even a second-year option — where he can play a not-so-lame-duck role.
This summer, Tejada earned his second straight All-Star appearance and finished with an NL-most 46 doubles and an eighth-best .313 batting average. He did so in 158 games, proving that despite his age, he can still produce on a consistent basis. Since 1999, he's been healthy enough and able to play in at least 158 games per season in 10 of 11 years including 162 contests from 2001-06.
After 13 grueling seasons with the A's, O's and Astros, Tejada has averaged an impressive 25 homers and 103 RBIs to go with 97 runs scored per season.
Still not interested, Sox fans? In 126 career games against the Yankees, Tejada has 73 runs scored, 17 homers, 94 RBIs and a .303 batting average. At 61 career contests at Fenway Park, he owns a .305 average to go with 37 RBIs and 14 doubles. If the righty plays 81 games at the Fens next summer, Tejada could pepper the Monster on a daily basis and easily reach the 50-double plateau.
What about the leather?
After an impressive and career-high .983 fielding percentage in 2008, the Dominican native booted 21 balls this summer for a .970 percentage. Not only is the .970 very close to his career average of .971, but it is also the exact same as the Red Sox' current "glovely" shortstop Alex Gonzalez's .970 career fielding percentage.
If this year proved one thing, it's that offense ruled in the American League (see: NYY, LAA) and sticking Tejada's stick into the eighth or ninth slot in an already stout lineup will make hurlers cringe with fear. While the next Johnny, Rico or Nomar isn't walking through that Yawkey Way clubhouse door anytime soon, Tejada may be a reliable option for the time being with a big bat.
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