If one MLB team signs former NFL QB Tim Tebow, it sounds like it won’t be the Boston Red Sox. The boss, Dave Dombrowski didn’t seem impressed.
Darren Hartwell of NESN.com reported the Red Sox president of baseball operations saying, ““We did our due diligence […] I don’t want to say anything negative because other teams are looking at him, but I don’t think we’ll be rushing out to make a signing.” These words came after Tebow put on a workout show in Los Angeles in front of many MLB scouts from over 20 teams.
The former Heisman Trophy winner looked in as good, if not better, physical shape than when he played quarterback for the Florida Gators in college. Just look at his speed in this video tweet:
His power was on display, as well. Tebow crushed balls in batting practice. The key word being practice. He may have been sending the pitches over the walls in USC’s Dedeaux Field, including one that cleared the scoreboard, but that’s when the pitcher was being generous with him. He was showing good swings for balls coming straight at him.
The issue had remained, as ESPN baseball analyst Aaron Boone recently mentioned in an interview with BoSox Injection, “the biggest thing is that he needs to go play and face competition, face pitching. Can he handle professional pitching that’s trying to get you out. I’m fairly confident that he’s going to look good in the workout, but I’d be a lot more intrigued if he was a 24-year-old than at 29.”
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports had the information everyone was waiting for:
According to Josh Peter of USA TODAY Sports, this statistic was “against former major league relievers Chad Smith and David Aardsma. Smith’s fastball topped out at 92 mph, and Tebow put four of Smith’s first 20 pitches in play, cracking a line drive to center field that would have been the only sure hit in the bunch. He also lined two balls to shortstop and grounded to second base in displaying decent bat speed.”
Those are the numbers, not what was visible to the trained eye. Even for a mere baseball reporter’s eye, one could tell that Tebow’s swing hasn’t changed much since he played baseball in high school, which would be 2005. His swing began to fall apart, once the pitchers started coming out of the strike zone with MLB-level pitches. Even their fastballs were no longer straight, and neither was Tebow’s swing that flailed helplessly. Tebow looped his bat to try getting more on the ball, but all that he did was look like a strikeout king. Yes, even his foul balls were out of the park; his swing also looked like desperation to make contact than it was proper form.
Despite having a body of Paul Bunyan incarnate, Tebow’s swing looked less and less like a lumberjack the more he tried cutting down anything low and not a fastball.
Peter also mentioned that Tebow wasn’t making anyone’s eyes pop out of their heads on defense: “One scout graded Tebow’s arm a 45 on the 20 to 80 scouting scale; 50 is considered average, 45 slightly below average. Another scout noted that Tebow’s throws had ‘a little arc, but just fair carry. There is some strength.'” Considering the 29-year-old has been trying to stay in the NFL by building up his arm strength and accuracy, one would have thought that this part of the workout would have been a big selling point, instead of it becoming the weakness that it did.
Which brings us back to Dombrowski. He must have been looking at his depth chart in the outfield, staring at the name Mookie Betts, then looking up at Tebow practicing right field and thinking ya, right! Out of good manners, Dombrowski would not and did not admit to that thought; however, based on that display in the outfield, Tebow tracked down every ball hit to him like a good athlete and threw the ball like someone nowhere near how a 2016 MLB All-Star would.
At 5’9″, the 180-pound Betts is hitting .320 with a ton of power (.563 SLG), earning him 30 home runs and 96 RBIs in just his second full season with the Red Sox. Oh, and he’s six years younger than Tebow, too. Tebow-Time is not happening in Fenway Park’s right field any time soon. Once one looks at Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Andrew Benintendi in left field, with Chris Young as a great fourth man in the combination, the logjam of talent would be too much for Tebow to break through, anyways.
Hartwell did add that Tebow “reportedly received an offer to start his baseball career in winter ball.” However, as Boone pointed out, “at what age could he realistically get to the big leagues? And then you’re starting to talk about a guy who’ll start to be going to the downside of his physical prime. He’s up against that clock and that clock is definitely ticking.” For Dombrowski and the Red Sox, the alarm already sounded Tebow out of time.
Maybe, one day, Tebow will be taking his fabled pose of praying on one knee in the cathedral of Boston; however, it’s not going to be in a Red Sox uniform if he does.