Well. Here's an expert speaking. Or rather writing. Here's the quote to save you the trouble of clicking through.
Short vowels (except a) were generally more lax, and were nearer to each other in articulatory space than their long counterparts. They form a non-peripheral group. The long vowel system was more spread out, and the individual vowels (except ā) had a generally tenser articulation. They form a peripheral group. (p. 251)Now, I don't know who Philip Baldi is, but I may have to find out. I'm deeply curious to find out what he is basing his suggestion of a tense/lax distinction on. It's a very clean and uses a preexisting phonological distinction. The other nice thing is that it makes Allen's double triangles in Vox Latina make much better sense.