Miggy is back in Baltimore, and I cannot comprehend some people’s mixed emotions. It seems as though some fans would prefer the bargain basement options of Hank Blalock or Joe Crede rather than the proven success of Miguel Tejada. Sure he’s 35, but there are a lot more reasons to like this move than not.
Let’s first be honest with ourselves. He was not brought here for his glove. In fact, no one in baseball has any idea how good Tejada will be at third base, having spent his entire career at shortstop. He will be a work in progress even into May, and will probably never be an exemplary third baseman this season. However, it is a normal progression for aging shortstops to move to third base as their defensive skills diminish (there was an Oriole I recall making that move before, Cal Ripken, Jr. perhaps?) and, more importantly, they are willing to acknowledge they need to make the move. As long as he can be a serviceable third baseman, he will already be as good defensively as Ty Wiggington or Joe Crede.
His bat is still alive. Anyone thinking that the 35 (or is it 33? Or 38? 50?) year old has lost his bat is sorely mistaken. While his numbers dropped somewhat in his two seasons in Houston from his previous 4 seasons in Baltimore, he still batted .313 with 86 RBI last season, a jump from .283 and 66 the year before. This indicates that as he adjusted to NL Central pitching, he was able to bounce back just fine. His familiarity with the AL East should enable him to get right back in the “swing” of things in Baltimore. Let’s also not forget that despite his reputation for hitting into double plays (I remember seeing a man on first with one out and Tejada coming to the plate and just putting my head in my hands because I knew what happened next- 6-4-3 double play), Miggy had some of his best years as a pro in Baltimore. He hit well over .300 during his 4 years here, and while his home run numbers diminished he still averaged about 25 a season. The Orioles need a bat to take the pressure off of Reimold, Wieters, and Jones, and Tejada will provide that.
Tejada won’t stand in the way of the future. He old enough that even if he has an incredible season, there will be no pressure to bring him back next year. He knows he is playing for another contract with another team, so he’ll feel the pressure to perform and likely won’t pout or put in half-effort the way he did during his first run with the Orioles.
The last thing I wanted to mention is the prevailing opinion that he wasn’t a good teammate. Did he get irritated at the constant losing? Absolutely. Did he want out of Baltimore? Definitely. But was he a leader? His teammates say so, and on a team that is sorely missing key leadership he will have to be that presence. Also, one has to remember that he was here before “The Plan,” before Andy MacPhail brought Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Matt Wieters, and Luke Scott to the Orioles. He was here when fans were still hanging their hopes on Adam Leowen and Hayden Penn to save the pitching staff, and when Jay Payton was still relied on to get the big hit. No one can possibly have expected someone to stay motivated in that clubhouse, but this is a brand new team. The veterans Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis want him here, and that’s good enough for me.
Miguel Tejada could throw a tantrum during a losing streak, but I doubt it. After all, he was able to keep his cool during Houston’s annual meltdowns, so I think he’ll be just fine back in Baltimore. Welcome back, Miggy.