It’s time for the Mets to recall Ruben Tejada. If he needed time in the minors to be taught a lesson and to learn not to take his role on the Mets for granted, that time has passed. He’s spent more than 100 plate appearances in over a month down in the minors learning that lesson, and it’s time to do what’s best for the Mets both this year and for future years.
Whether or not his poor performance earlier this season was a result of some mental attitude and not being properly prepared or simply a bad start and some bad luck, Tejada should be back with the Mets. Tejada is not lighting the world on fire in the minors, but he’s doing well enough, hitting .337/.389/.418.
What he did earlier this season with the Mets was not acceptable, but he’s put up reasonable numbers in previous seasons, and it’s time to see if he can do it again. He’s played an adequate shortstop defensively, and while he didn't do so in a relatively small sample in 2013, there’s plenty of evidence out there that he can man the position well enough to be considered a major league starter at the position.
While he’s never been touted as a huge prospect, it’s still worth remembering that Tejada is very young with the potential for at least a little bit of learning and adapting at baseball's highest level. He’d be the second youngest player on the Mets, behind only Zack Wheeler. Tejada has over 1,000 major league at-bats, and at least some of them have been pretty good. There are a lot of highly touted prospects who are older than Tejada and haven’t even made their major league debut yet.
There aren't a lot of good shortstops out there, and even fewer great ones. Settling for good enough is not an ideal solution, but many teams would be happy to have a good enough shortstop, and the drop off after Tejada is pretty stark in the Mets' system at this moment.
I don’t want to pick on Omar Quintanilla too much since two years running now he’s stepped into a void and had a good couple of weeks with the team, but as we’re seeing lately, Quintanilla is not a major league hitter at any position. Given enough time, his numbers will level out to his career averages, which are really bad. Quintanilla is down to hitting .225 with a .314 OBP and .315 SLG. Fangraphs has him providing negative value in the field according to UZR, and while it feels like he’s been better than that, there is not much value added that Tejada can’t provide.
The Mets are a better team with Ruben Tejada playing every day, and no matter what reasons they had for optioning him to the minors after his rehab stint, the team needs him now to help provide the solid at-bats and effective defense he’s shown he’s capable of playing. The organization needs Tejada to prove he can be a part of the future, both in terms of attitude and in terms of his skill-set. None of that will happen at the minor league level.