By now, you’ve no doubt read the story: ESPN found out that Miguel Tejada wasn’t really 31; when they asked him how old he was, he said 32; he’s actually 33.
I read this story and I thought, “Miguel Tejada’s only 33?!” For some reason I thought he was 35.
Anyway, the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice says this is no biggy for Miggy:
Don’t condemn Miguel Tejada unless you’re absolutely sure what you would have done in the same situation. Don’t jump on your high horse unless you’ve walked a mile in Miguel Tejada’s shoes. He was a poor kid that saw baseball as a way to provide for his family.
If he’s 17, he’s one kind of prospect. If he’s 19, he’s another kind. So he told scouts he was 17 when he actually was 19. Instead of celebrating his 32nd birthday next month, he’ll be 34. This isn’t a big deal. As Ed Wade said, the important thing is he’s playing like he’s 25.
I hope I’m not about to mount my high horse here. (As Babes Love Baseball put it, “I am not one to condemn people for lying about the year they were born. I was under the age of 21 at one time and was very thirsty.”) But I do think this is a big deal. First, Tejada’s already under a cloud because of the steroid rumors that have been swirling around him for years. Now that we know he lied about his age, anyone who believed his steroid denials will rightfully wonder if he’s lying about that, too.
But the bigger deal, of course, is that Tejada’s actual age calls into question what the Astros can expect to get out of him, considering that the peak age for the average baseball player is generally considered 27, and considering that a precipitous drop-off in production can usually be expected to strike in a player’s mid-30s. (Beyond the Box Score has a graph—of course!—demonstrating the pattern.) And the discrepancy also calls into question last winter’s trade between ‘Stros and the O’s. Yet Houston GM Ed Wade doesn’t seem to care. MLB Trade Rumors:
I’m surprised – those two years have to be a big consideration when projecting him for his ’08 and ’09 seasons, which the ‘Stros pretty much own. I guess the Astros can’t have a legitimate beef with the Orioles, if the O’s didn’t know either.
Tejada, by the way, can opt out of his contract after this season. He’s due $13MM in ’09.
Unless he has a great season this year, I’d expect him not to opt-out. 34-year olds don’t get the money or the contracts that 32-year olds do. Which is, of course, part of why he lied in the first place.
But don’t worry, Miguel. You’re still younger than I thought you were.
PS—Obligatory Julio Franco age joke at Larry Brown Sports.