Former Mets bench coach Chip Hale, told ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin that if the Mets lose Jose Reyes to free agency, young Ruben Tejada is more than capable to hold his own as an everyday shortstop for the Mets in 2012.
“Whether he plays second every day next year or short, he’s going to be a big contributor to that team and they need it. His physical presence has improved. He’s gotten bigger. He’s gotten stronger. And I think he will continue to…I think he definitely can be an everyday shortstop…I think he can hit at .250 in a bad year and maybe hit .270, .280. We know he can occupy the eight hole, which is a tough place to hit. And he was really doing the job in the two hole behind Jose.”
Mark Simon spoke to one National League scout who said this:
“Tejada is ready to play every day. Save the money and go get some pitching. You’re not winning anything in 2012 anyway. Find out if the kid can do it. He really has improved with the bat and gotten physically stronger. He’s going to need a backup, though, in case he gets hurt or needs a day off.”
Last season, Tejada batted .284 with a .360 on-base, 31 runs scored, 36 RBIs and five steals in 96 games.
If Reyes bolts, Tejada will have some pretty big shoes to fill. But if stays true to himself and plays his game without trying to be more than what he is, I feel the Mets can get by so long as they upgrade offensively somewhere else, perhaps center field, to pick up the slack.