In the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, the San Diego Padres acquired Miguel Tejada for double-A pitcher Wynn Pelzer on Thursday night. Damn hot tub, it’s not 2004 any more, and now this is more of a back-pager in the newsrag of the 2010 trade deadline. In fact, it’s such a snoozer, you wonder why the Padres even bothered.
It’s not like San Diego gave up too much – Pelzer has a 4.54 FIP on the back of a 7.84 K/9 and 4.91 BB/9 in San Antonio this year, and that number only gets worse if you neutralize it for park and luck effects relative to the rest of the relatively pitching-friendly Texas League. Then again, his career FIP against righties is exactly a full run lower (3.54), so he may have a future as a reliever if he can’t iron out his splits. In fact, he just recently moved to relief, perhaps in order to recover some of the lost zip on his fastball. Going into the season, he was Baseball America’s #7 prospect, but as Dave Cameron just reminded us today, it’s important to remember that was before he went out and put up a 1.675 WHIP in double-A and took some of the shine off. Bryan Smith has more on Pelzer here.
The bigger question is actually if Tejada is an upgrade for the Padres. Starting with defense, the answer is unclear. His career UZR/150 at shortstop is -3.6, and that number drops further if you count only his last three attempts at the position, from 2007-2009. This year, he’s even been poor at third base, with a -7.3 UZR/150 and 15 errors in what has generally been described as lackluster-at-best defense. The current thirdbaseman for the Padres, Chase Headley, sports a 9.9 career UZR/150 at third and half the errors and really shouldn’t be pushed anywhere for the veteran.
Of course, the Padres’ current shortstop, Everth Cabrera, has a negative career UZR/150, but has shown better defense in the small sample that is this year. But do the Padres really want to go with a 36-year-old who hasn’t played shortstop in a year, and hasn’t played it well in two, probably four years? Especially since Cabrera is somewhat similar offensively (.241 wOBA, .287 ZiPS RoS wOBA) to Tejada (.296 wOBA, .324 ZiPs RoS wOBA)?
Short of playing Tejada at a completely new position – second base – and pushing Jerry Hairston, Jr to shortstop (career 2.4 UZR/150), the only other option is for Tejada to serve as a utility player, which seems like the plan. At least it’s not going to cost the Padres much long term in order to strengthen their bench for the stretch run.