There is no doubt about the vast array of young talent on the current Orioles roster. The only problem with most of the talent being young is that it may be tough to find someone who is going to step up and be the team captain, or leader, if you will. Usually it’s the veteran players who step up and take charge in the locker room. They take the young players under their wing and teach them the ins and outs of the game. But over the last few years, the Orioles haven’t had that player who has stepped up and been the guy everyone looks up to.
The last time they had a player like that was probably when Miguel Tejada was here. It wasn’t that Tejada was the hard-nosed vocal leader of the bunch, but he had a fun and easygoing personality, which made it easier for guys to talk to him about anything. It’s much easier for a young player to ask advice of a guy who he knows is easygoing and knowledgeable rather than a guy who is demanding and knowledgeable.
That being said, I think Tejada will once again be the leader in the O’s locker room in 2010. He has been a part of the organization before and even though most of the players that are here now weren’t here during his last tenure, I think they will rally around him just like the last time he came here. Granted, some players may not trust him as much because of the whole steroid fiasco, but I don’t think that will affect his leadership qualities at all. Tejada is a 13-year veteran, so he has pretty much seen it all. I think he’ll be a great mentor for the younger guys trying to make a name for themselves in the big leagues.
One player who I think will benefit the most from Tejada’s presence and will eventually take his place as the team leader is Adam Jones. Jones has a similar personality to that of Tejada in that they both truly love the game of baseball. They both have exuberant personalities on and off the field and people are drawn to them. They always seem to have smiles on their faces and they don’t treat the game like it’s just their job. They look at baseball as a privilege and they appreciate the fact that being a professional athlete is one of the best jobs in the world, and it shows.
Even though I think Tejada will be the O’s leader this season, Jones has the potential to be the club’s future leader. He has all the ingredients to become a player that people around the league talk about. Jones is what they call a five-tool player, a guy who can hit for power, hit for average, has speed, can field his position and has excellent throwing ability. In addition to being a five-tool player, he also has the swagger to be a superstar in this league. He rides that very thin line between confidence and cockiness while managing to stay likable. When you combine all of the above factors with Jones’ determination to make everyone around him better, you get a leader. There is no doubt in my mind that Jones will be the leader of this team one day, but a year or two of watching Miggy will benefit him in preparing for the task.