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Eli Eon

Nobody Can Convince Me That the Orioles Infield is not Dramatically Better..

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You make a lot of good points in your post. I would be the first to admit that Tejada made some mental mistakes and blew some DP's that don't show up in his fielding percentage. The real question is, were there more of these types of plays than the average SS makes? And that's very hard to judge unless you are watching every other SS play over a long time like we have done with Tejada. Personally, I feel that Tejada's detractors tend to exaggerate the numer of times these things have happened.

Here's the thing... Tejada's defensive problems are not out of the ordinary among offense first shortstops. Living in the New York area I see a lot of Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes. Both of them make similar numbers of "non-error" mistakes to Tejada. Also like Tejada, both of them are outstanding offensive players who are bigger stars than they otherwise would be because they are shortstops. All three of these guys have the talent to be great defensive shortstops, but just maybe their offensive prowess and the attention they get for it detracts a little bit from the effort they might put into perfecting their craft defensively. Meanwhile, the Major Leagues are full of Jay Gibbonses, Jay Paytons, Shawn Greens, etc... starting or platoon corner outfielders (or 1Bs/DHs) who don't really provide enough offense to justify starting at an offense-first position but aren't good enough defensively to make a difference at any position. In my mind, the overall resources of MLB would be better allocated by replacing players who are league average or below in both hitting and fielding with players who are below average at one but well above average in the other and moving players around a bit. With the athletic ability a Tejada, Jeter or Reyes has, they could all be truly outstanding outfielders or corner infielders, without having to put the time and energy into defense that even a great athlete has to in order to be a great shortstop. Meanwhile, a Luis Hernandez type knows his glove is what got him there so he busts his butt to be a great fielder. To me, this would lead to an overall improved quality of play and certainly entertainment value. Of course the agents would never go for it since being an average shortstop allows a superstar to vastly expand his salary over what he might make as a very good outfielder or third baseman, but I think it would make it a better game.

I know this is a particularly blasphemous thing to say this week, but I think Cal Ripken inadvertently ruined shortstops. He had the ability and the work ethic to be a very good defensive shortstop at 6'4", but unfortunately he changed a whole way of thinking in baseball and led to the idea that teams should seek big, strong shortstops instead of defensive specialists and many that followed (obviously there are exceptions like ARod) did not provide the kind of defense that either Ripken or a scrappy little guy could. Meanwhile, along came steroids and other high tech supplements which allowed mediocre athletes to become big sluggers and suddenly you have a game that is completely focused on power and has all but forgotten about the "little things"... defense, smart baserunning, bunting, hitting behind the runner, all of that. Of course, Ripken could do all those things, but once people got the idea that you could have a great offensive player at every position the defensive positions fell by the wayside while right and left field got filled with guys who didn't really have a whole lot of baseball talent. It's not really Ripken's fault, but in a way his career represented a turning point of sorts in the history of the game. Looking around at the number of teams who have great defensive shortstops languishing in the minors while they struggle to find corner outfielders who can provide half the offensive production Tejada, Jeter or Reyes is capable of, I think it's time to start turning back the other way.

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My feeling is that Tejada played very poor defense in the first month, both statistically and in ways that don't show up in statistics. He played far better in May and June, again both statistically and otherwise. But people are still fixated on his poor play in April.

I think his offensive output has largely contributed to the complaining. If he had 18 Hr's and 70 RBI's, I think this thread wouldn't exist.

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What's more surprising for me is that a staff member, who should probably never do this for logistical reasons, put him on ignore. I mean, I know that most of the staff are only de-facto moderators, but how can you do moderate if you are willingly not going to read someone's posts? Heh.

I only have two people on ignore, Sapper and Eli. Even on ignore you have the option of clicking on a link and showing their posts, one at a time. I find that's just one extra check to keep me from immediately reacting to an inflammatory post and saying something I shouldn't.

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Here's the thing... Tejada's defensive problems are not out of the ordinary among offense first shortstops....

It's not really Ripken's fault, but in a way his career represented a turning point of sorts in the history of the game. Looking around at the number of teams who have great defensive shortstops languishing in the minors while they struggle to find corner outfielders who can provide half the offensive production Tejada, Jeter or Reyes is capable of, I think it's time to start turning back the other way.

Very thought-provoking post. Not sure if I buy it 100%, but rep points for you anyway!

Also, I've said this before, but Oriole fans are uncommonly spoiled. In Mark Belanger, Cal Ripken and Mike Bordick, the O's had three shortstops who were not only great with the leather, but who almost never made mental errors of any kind. I don't know how many shortstops like that exist, light-hitting or not. Certainly you are right that this is extemely valuable and underappreciated.

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