If the Mets ever get around to announcing the list of minor leaguers they’ve cut this month, they should include Tim Tebow’s name on it. The fact Tebow didn’t announce anything Thursday when a large wave of cuts by MLB organizations was reported indicates he still has a job in the game.
He shouldn’t be employed, though, for one obvious reason: He isn’t good at baseball. Good at life? Sure. Not good at baseball.
By the most basic statistical measures, Tebow should have gotten the boot as early as last offseason. He put up a .163/.240/.255 slash line in 264 plate appearances at Triple-A Syracuse last year, in his Age 31 season. Those numbers are disqualifying for almost everyone but pitchers — almost, because they haven’t gotten Tebow released.
The Mets’ patience with Tebow has gone from frustrating to maddening. The “publicity stunt” stage should be over. He needs to be judged as a player, and his regression at the highest level of the minor leagues makes the call on him an easy one.
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The organization’s commitment to him is why now-former pros like Andrew Church took veiled shots at the guy. Church used his release Thursday to vent on Instagram about how the Mets wronged him during his career — and how they wronged others by keeping Tebow around.
“They made a mockery of our team by putting a celebrity on it to sell more tickets,” Church wrote, likely referring to Tebow’s promotion to high Single-A St. Lucie in June 2017. “I saw players lose their jobs because of it. We weren’t playing to win, we were playing to make everyone else money. Not the players. We never saw a cut. Well, allegedly that one player did.
“I think people are starting to understand that more now but they didn’t in 2018 when it was happening again.” That likely was a reference to Tebow’s preseason promotion to Double-A Binghamton.
Church, a second-round pick of the Mets in 2013, was a teammate of Tebow’s at every rung on the ladder from St. Lucie to Binghamton to Syracuse. He no doubt saw how stiff and unsure Tebow was when he started out, how slow his bat was (and still is, as evidenced by his 37.1 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A). He had to see that Tebow wasn’t a big leaguer.
He certainly noticed how fans fell over themselves to ogle Tebow in his football number, 15. But they were there to watch a football legend and all-around good guy, not an MLB prospect, despite their hopes he’d save the Show once he got there.
Church’s numbers weren’t too hot, either, especially after he suffered an elbow injury he blamed on the Mets jerking him among different levels. The right-hander retired in 2018 and then unretired before last season. He’s the type of player who gets released in spring training; most of the players cut this week fall into that category.
He was saved from a likely March dismissal this year because of the coronavirus outbreak. He stayed for two additional months and was paid $400 a week by the Mets to work out. That money wasn’t nearly enough for him to forget his history with the organization.
I watched Tebow play in person once, just after he had gotten the call-up to St. Lucie that Church referenced in his rant. St. Lucie plays at the Mets’ spring training stadium, and thousands of good seats are available every night during the Florida State League season.
The night I went to the park, I was joined by 2,000 of Tebow’s closest friends. They wanted to relive the Gators memories; I wanted to see what kind of player he was. After watching him for 11 innings, it was dang near impossible to project he’d become good enough after having not played the sport for close to a decade.
Modest success as a part-timer at Binghamton — and, of course, his drawing power — got him a bump up to Triple-A and a second consecutive invitation to major league spring training. He failed his most recent on-field audition. Tebow was in big-league camp again this season and went 2 for 13.
There’s word a second wave of organizational cuts is coming soon. The Mets can right their many wrongs and finally tell Tebow he needs to go. Let him go be great at life. Free him from having to work tirelessly to be below-average at baseball.
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