4.23.2008

Maybe He Just Forgot? I Do Sometimes…

For the past several days, ESPN has been making a big deal about revealing Miguel Tejada’s “secret past.” What, is he a former drug runner? Did he used to be a pirate? Did he used to date Paris Hilton?

No.

Apparently, Tejada is actually 33 instead of 31, and this is the earth-shattering news that ESPN is breaking.

Certainly in an industry where you sign long-term contracts for a great deal of money based on expected future performance (and age plays a large part in that), you’d like to know how old a guy is.

But really, who is surprised by this? Aside from the fact that Tejada has already lied about his past HGH usage, he’s also from the Dominican Republic, where players are notoriously bad about claiming to be younger than they actually are:

  • Remember Danny Almonte, the 12-year old Little League phenom who was the media darling in 2001 until it was revealed that he was actually 14?
  • Remember Rafael Furcal, who at one point set the Major League record for most stolen bases by an 18-year old, but then he turned out to be 21?
  • Remember Julio Franco, who everyone thought was the oldest player in the Major Leagues and then turned out to actually be the oldest human being on the planet?
The point is, this happens all the time, so the Astros shouldn’t be too surprised or too upset.

It’s kind of like with my cousin Will, who used to severely exaggerate his intramural basketball statistics. It didn’t make me mad, I just realized eventually that if I wanted accurate numbers, I just needed to take whatever numbers he told me and divide them by three.

It’s the same way in Major League Baseball—when a ballplayer from the Dominican Republic tells you how old he is, you automatically add a couple years to it because you don’t expect him to actually give you his correct age.

As for Tejada, well he was mentioned in the Mitchell Report and has apparently lied to a Federal Grand Jury about using HGH, so has enough legitimate baggage already without trying to make a big deal about this age thing.

The picture above is from the cover of the 2005 Baltimore Orioles Media Guide. I’m sure that putting Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa on the cover seemed like a great idea at the time.

6 comments:

John Wright 4/23/08, 12:06 PM  

This whole thing has been completely overblown. Sure, it's a raw deal for the Astros, who are now paying big money for a player who is even farther from his prime than they thought, but like you said: how big a surprise is it?

That is a fantastic picture, by the way.

Will 4/23/08, 12:26 PM  

I bet the media relations crew doesn't put that media guide in their portfolio anymore.

Luke 4/23/08, 1:28 PM  

John,

Regarding the Astros, doesn't Tejada only have one more year on his contract? I might be wrong about that, but if that's the case, Tejada will pay for being 2 years older when he signs his next contract.

Luke 4/23/08, 1:29 PM  

Will,

Ya, I bet not. I had seen the picture somewhere before, but it actually took me a long time to be able to dig it up. It appears that they've tried to destroy as many copies as possible.

John Wright 4/23/08, 2:52 PM  

Tejada has one year left after this year, and both years are for $13M. He also gets some change ($50K) for an all-star appearance, which isn't likely with all of the NL's great shortstops. Part of his original $12M signing bonus was deferred until 2010-11, but I think the Orioles would be on the hook for that.

$13M actually isn't a terrible price as long as he can handle shortstop defensively and keep up a 120 or so OPS+, so I suppose the Astros can afford to remain mostly indifferent about the age discrepancy. I would hope that the 'Stros were factoring in his age in projecting his performance and value to the team when they traded for him, but I might be giving them too much credit. That's a sunk cost now, anyway, so there's no point in them making a big deal out of it.

In the end, all of this will only hurt him, and not the team signing him, when his current deal runs out.

Luke 4/24/08, 5:24 PM  

John,

I felt certain you would have the details. Like you said, he'll have to answer for his extra maturity at the end of the season.

And until then, there's no way he's not earning more of his salary than Mike Hampton, who apparently ran past his human expiration date long ago (I feel sorry for him, actually).

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