For Mets fans who were paying attention in 2015, Ruben Tejada will always have a special place in our collective heart. The name makes me turn red, like Roger Rabbit after drinking whiskey, and all of the rage within my body is targeted at the man who ended Tejada’s 2015 postseason run, and probably permanently harmed his career, Chase Utley.
In case you want to get your heart rate up, here it is:
It can’t be said enough times, but Fuck Chase Utley.
The last time I saw something that big without a spine, it was crashing into Ruben Tejada at second base. https://t.co/rVZTmgY5X7— Amazin' Avenue (@AmazinAvenue) September 21, 2019
Yes, Utley broke Tejada’s leg in in 2015, and this post is ostensibly about Tejada’s 2019, but the reality is that there is no discussion of 2019 Tejada that isn’t colored by the ‘15 NLDS. Tejada’s career to that point had been unspectacular, but that moment transformed him from ‘good enough’ to ‘legend’ in the eyes of Mets fans. It is also likely the reason that the Mets signed Tejada to a minor-league deal at the end of Spring Training.
Across 75 minor league games, Tejada was hitting like Patrick Flood once projected he would, hitting .333/.409/.481, mostly at AAA Syracuse. Although the Mets had Amed Rosario manning shortstop this season, as well as a glut of other infielders, it seemed likely that the Mets may call him to be a man off the bench and someone to spell their infielders at some point.
And that is exactly what happened, with Tejada being called up due to Jeff McNeil hitting the disabled list. Tejada played his only complete game on August 14th, going 0-4 while starting at second base in a 6-4 loss to the Braves. For the next week or so, Tejada logged time at second, third, and shortstop, but only in short spells. He also did not reach base in any of his nine plate appearances, though he did score after coming to run for J.D. Davis on August 18th.
Nine days later, Tejada was released by the Mets to make room for [adjusts glasses] Chris Flexen? This was not the end for Tejada, though, as he was re-signed by the Mets to a minor league deal on September 1st, though he did not receive a September call up.
It is unknown if the Mets plan to retain him for 2020, but it seems like the Mets’ infield doesn’t need the type of depth that Tejada would provide. Between Rosario, Davis, Jed Lowrie, Robinson Cano, Luis Guillorme, and potentially Joe Panik or Todd Frazier, Tejada’s glove isn’t elite enough to be a pure shortstop, nor does he provide a ton off the bench.
Whether or not Tejada logs any more Mets playing time in his career, his return back to the team in 2019 was a bittersweet bookend on the Tejada/Utley interaction. Though Utley is a potentially future Hall of Fame second baseman, he didn’t play for an MLB team in 2019. Tejada did. Tejada survives.
Fuck Chase Utley.