It's been awhile since the last update to this blog, the primary reasons for that being a lack of news on which to comment combined with the soulcrushing ennui of the typical Baltimore sports baseball offseason (which recently has expanded to include playoff losses by the next-door Ravens, but don't think me ungrateful; at least they make it there). However, there have been enough rumblings about something I was making offhand jokes about a month ago to drag me out of my blogging stupor: the possibility of Miguel Tejada returning to the Baltimore Orioles.
I should preface this by saying I couldn't care less about the clubhouse or a player's effect on it. This is first and foremost because as a fan I have no way to evaluate it. There's no numbers involved in whether or not a guy is a prick or great to hang out with; that's something you learn through sweating it out next to a guy 162 games a year (half that if you're a Met), and I don't know these people. I certainly don't trust reporters to know what the hell they're talking about when it comes to workplace relationships between Major League Baseball players, and the players themselves have their own biases and perspectives that everything they say has to filter through, so instead of engaging in what's essentially sports augury I'm going to put the whole "clubhouse cancer" vs. "veteran presence" discussion off to one side and talk about the tangible things the players leave on the field.
Miguel Tejada is an allegedly-35 year old who hit .313/.340/.455 in 673 PA last year. His fielding at shortstop was expectedly tragic, putting up a -12.4 UZR/150, but if the Orioles (or anyone) sign him, he'd be moving to third, where hopefully some of his range problems would be mollified -- the reason Tejada's defense was so terrible during his time in Baltimore wasn't his arm or his instincts, it was that he just could not move laterally with the quickness a shortstop needs and therefore had to play with a foot on the outfield grass. Okay, fine, his instincts weren't great either, but we're on Plan C right now, and the O's wouldn't be signing Miggy for his defense.
They'd be signing him because the other non-organizational third base option at the moment is Joe Crede, who put up an OPS almost 100 points smaller than Tejada's last year, and may or may not have a functioning spinal column. Tejada's put up almost as many PA in the last two years as Crede has in the last four; the problem with Tejada has never been durability. And with Crede's health issues, who knows how good his admittedly top-tier defense at third will be, and more importantly, how many many games for which it'll be available? On paper, a Crede-Izturis-Roberts-Atkins infield would have some pretty slick fielding credentials, but Roberts is the best contact hitter, the best slugger, and the most disciplined of all four, and as much as I love him, his bat the last couple years has only been a bit above average. If Garrett Atkins rebounds to his form from a couple years ago, this changes things, but the Orioles need good hitters right now much more than they need good fielders -- especially a guy who can be moved to DH if Josh Bell continues his meteoric rise and joins the big club in the second half.
Roch Kubatko thinks that it's Joe Crede or bust and this point, and that the Orioles aren't that interested in bringing Tejada back, but beyond the giddy fan appeal of resigning both Tejada and Bedard a couple years after trading the two men for pretty much an entire farm system, both moves make sense; it's not like the Orioles are bidding against anyone for Tejada's services, and they need the pop he can bring.
Especially now that Aubrey Huff is off the table. Ha ha ha ha ha.