Why Tejada and Not Turner?

On Saturday the Mets released Alex Cora, demoted Jesus Feliciano, and promoted Fernando Martinez and Ruben Tejada.

Upon the youngsters’ arrival, manager Jerry Manuel announced that Ruben Tejada would be installed as the everyday second baseman, Luis Castillo would go to the bench, and Fernando Martinez would enter into a platoon with Jeff Francoeur in left field while Jason Bay recovers from a “mild” concussion.

Why?

I get the part about F-Mart … sort of. OK, not really. I don’t get the F-Mart promotion at all. He was hitting .250 in Buffalo, and was only hitting that well because he hit a mild hot streak in the past two weeks. It’s not like he’s setting the world afire. Martinez has yet to play more than 90 games in any one season, so I thought the plan was to give the poor kid a full season of continuity somewhere, to see if he could actually develop his skills. Instead, the Mets promote him again, despite him not earning it, and put him into a role where he won’t get the regular playing time he so desperately needs. I guess the thought process is that he might be better, offensively, than Jeff Francoeur and/or Jesus Feliciano.

As for Tejada, it is another example of promoting a kid who doesn’t deserve to be promoted.

Before all the kid-loving fans go ape on me, consider that there is another much worthier second baseman, who is still young: Justin Turner. While Tejada has hit a powerless .280 AVG / .329 OBP / .344 SLG / .673 OPS in 244 plate appearances, Turner has been lighting up the International League with a .323 AVG / .376 OBP / .475 SLG / .851 OPS through 255 plate appearances for Buffalo. And those numbers are no fluke, considering he hit .300 with a .750 OPS last year in AAA, .276 / .786 in A and AA in 2008, .307 / .805 in A ball in 2007, and .338 / .921 in rookie ball in 2006. The kid can flat-out hit, and his defensive skills are about average for a second baseman. No, he won’t be confused with Frank White or Bill Mazeroski, but he’s solid and gets the most from his tool set (some scouts have compared him to David Eckstein in terms of his approach to the game and the way he maximizes his skills).

Additionally, Turner is still “young” — particularly in Mets terms — as he is 25 years old and won’t turn 26 until late November.

So why in the world is Ruben Tejada being prematurely promoted and handed a big league job, when Turner has paid his dues and proven since 2006 to be a superior offensive player?

The only thing that makes sense is that Turner was someone else’s reject, while Tejada is one of Omar Minaya’s handpicked gems. Funny, that’s exactly how Fernando Martinez might be described. The performances of F-Mart and Tejada are directly tied to Minaya’s reputation as a talent evaluator. Interestingly, Minaya is safe from criticism if they both flop, since F-Mart is only 21 and Tejada is 20. But if they can just hold their own at the MLB level — i.e., not embarrass themselves — then Minaya looks like a genius. Who knows, one of them might get hot and earn Omar another 3-year extension.

Considering that the Mets’ season is all but over, Minaya is due for some serious criticism. Though the Wilpons claim his job is safe, he will still have to publicly justify his job as the GM. He couldn’t make a trade, so the next-best thing is touting the “strength” of the farm system — which he can take credit for developing. Promoting two kids who would be better off honing their skills in the minors is a safe gamble that will, in the end, make Minaya look good. To the average fan, it makes the Mets look good, too, because it “proves” that their farm system is “strong” as it can “produce big leaguers”.

What flavor of Kool-Aid do you prefer?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. mic August 8, 2010 at 9:38 am
    Joe. Couple of quick hits:

    1. Tejada: He is not in the long range plan. BUT he is being showcased. AND (incedently) the Mets are 15-5 in games he plays…at 2B.

    2. Castillo is done? My gues is HE IS traded. Once he is gone Tejada and Turner can play 2B. Note roster expand in a couple of weeks.Reese Havens or Zach Lutz could be future 2nd sackers. Then again the Chone Figgins thing makes too much sense.

    3. David Wright needs a new hitting coach….Dave Magadan?

    4. French must stay. Albeit as a 4th OF. He can play CF and RF. As for F-Mart? I dont know? CPT Kirk is about to push him out and Lucas Duda is not a whisper anymore either. BUT Fmart CAN play. I am not caught up in the play everyday mantra. I think the Mets have babied Fmart. We cant hide him anymore. He is OLD enuf to play.

    5. To sum it up: We need French as F-mart/CPT Kirk insurance……longterm.

    6. So Niese bealft the Phils, (as starters go) and now Santana has. RA likely gives a quality start. My guess is Pelfrey’s Mets future is under reveiw. PS: Dillon Gee won again.

    7. Cora: Last yr the SKANKS blocked a trade would have brought up Carter. By releasing Cora, Sox can just sign Cora. Plus I dont think money is a factor. I think Cora wanted to go help the Sox. If he is resigned by Omar in Nov I for one am not suprised.

  2. Mike August 8, 2010 at 11:22 am
    I’m going to apparently surprise Joe and say I don’t like these promotions. I think he refers to me as a “kid-lover” which I’m not sure how I should react to exactly (I’m kidding, it was just too easy).

    Anyway the only good thing about Tejada is that he will bring defense. Last night he already proved his defense is worth at least a win, he did make some plays that kept the shutout intact. Ultimately though I believe if he is to become more than a defensive specialist in the middle infield he need more time to develop in AAA. Turner should be the guy because he is the better hitter. Joe I think I agree that it is due to Turner being someone else’s reject.

    Fernando is just another issue entirely. Not only is he not ready, but he really needs stability and consistent plying time. I think it is unfair to expect him to develop at the MLB level, especially his patience. That is his biggest weakness and people generally don’t develop that at the MLB level (see: Francoeur, Jeff).

    No instead I would probably give Duda a chance because he is both older and performing better than Martinez. Duda is perhaps the best example of a Mets prospect developing this year. He started in AA and hit .286/.411/.503 with 6 HRs and just 27 Ks in 161 ABs. In AAA he has .310/.373/ .655 with 14 HRs and 34 Ks in 174 ABs, He has fairly consistent numbers across the two leagues to the tune of .299/.392/.582 with 20 HRs and 61 Ks in 335 total ABs. To me that is legit prospect numbers. So while advancing twice in one season is a lot to ask a guy, I think he has proven himself worthy of a look over Martinez. But I don’t feel like he will never get a shot, like I do with Turner. I just think his time is now over a guy like Martinez.

    • Joe Janish August 8, 2010 at 11:39 am
      Thanks Mike. No I don’t think of you as one of the “kid lovers” — those people are the Kool-Aid drinkers who spend the majority of their blog time on other Mets blogs and come by here for drive-by comments.

      Duda is a good example of someone who is more worthy of a promotion right now than F-Mart, good call. I’m guessing he wasn’t promoted because a) he’s still a work-in-progress in the outfield and b) he’s not on the 40-man roster.

      Here’s a wild, crazy idea: how about keeping Jesus Feliciano in MLB as a reward for his good play, and giving Chris Carter some regular ABs in a platoon with Francoeur? Carter’s defense hasn’t been horrendous in his brief stints, and if it proves to be awful you always have Frenchy and/or Feliciano to bring in for the late innings. Certainly, Carter can be no worse than the Mets’ 2009 starting LF tandem of Murphy/Tatis.

      • Mike August 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm
        Fair enough on Duda. I suppose if given the option I too would chose “none of the above” and stick with Carter and Francoeur. I shudder at the thought of Tatis and Murphy again and completely forgot about them both.

        Which brings up an interesting topic no one expects to discuss until the offseason: what happens to Murphy next year? Most of us I think feel he never really proven anything and doesn’t deserve a spot without a position, but given the fact that when healthy he was the starting first baseman on the Mets shouldn’t he be given a shot somewhere next year? The Mets clearly believed he was capable of hitting enough to play everyday at a premium offensive position. I feel like this conversation would just retread old waters, but it is one that hasn’t been had in a while and I wonder if things have changed for the “Murphy lovers.” With the emergence of Ike, do people still cling to Murphy? I doubt it. With Tejada, Turner, Reese Havens and others in the minors, and his season ending injury at the position, do people still believe Murphy can play 2nd? I really think this is an interesting discussion to have at some point in the near future.

      • Joe D. August 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm
        Nice post, and I agree with you Joe. I took the other route this morning and wondered why Fmart merited a promotion over the more deserving Duda.
  3. gary s. August 8, 2010 at 7:25 pm
    someone asked fred wilpon if fernando martinez is ready for the bigs and he answered “Is the sun going to come up tomorrow”.
  4. Tomterif August 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm
    Why not Turner instead of Tejada or Carter instead of F-Mart? Because that would be the intelligent thing to do. Not something that really works for this organization.
  5. loge mezzanine August 8, 2010 at 11:05 pm
    Isn’t this business of promoting the wrong guys exactly what Nelson Figueroa warned us about?
  6. friend August 9, 2010 at 10:53 am
    If it quacks like a duck … (DUH!), it’s because Tejada is hispanic!