Now that the Orioles have agreed to a one year deal to bring back Miguel Tejada, the position players appear to be set for the upcoming season. While it is hard to despise the Orioles offseason so far I will say I am not as impressed as some. Targetting Garrett Atkins to be your first baseman seems almost laughable, especially when you consider that better players could have been had for comparable money (Adam Laroche signed a one year deal worth 5 million, and Troy Glaus a deal worth only 2 million). Atkins is coming off the worst season of his career by far, continuing a downward trend that began in 2007 (Atkins OPS the last 4 years: .965, .853, .780, .650). Signing a very questionable bat to what appears to be an overpriced contract to play first base does not seem logical. To me, it would seem like Atkins could rebound to the point of having an average bat at third, but when he moves across the diamond he has to hit a lot more to be an average first baseman. I was indifferent on the move when I thought Atkins was going to be the third baseman, now I hate it. Hopefully they saw something they can fix easily and I will be eating these words once the season is underway. I just think that it is very likely he is an absolute disaster.
With the latest addition, the other corner infield spot has been filled. Many other fans appear to be excited about the move to bring back Tejada, not so much for me. First understand, I like Miguel Tejada and enjoyed his previous tenure here in Baltimore. I just don’t understand the moves the Orioles have made to fill out the corners. For me, the best move would have been to just let Luke Scott play first base and Atkins play third. That would have left ample playing time for all of Scott, Reimold, and Pie who are likely more valuable players than Atkins or Tejada. Tejada skill are eroding rapidly. The most important skills as a hitter, patience and power, have completely left his game. He now relies exclusively on hitting for a high average to remain a productive player. In addition, he is going to be 36 years old and is moving to a defensive position he has never played. To me that does not sound like a recipe for success. It is likely that Tejada is an average third baseman next year, but I see plenty of downside here too. Both corner infield positions could easily end up a disaster, or perhaps even an epic fail. While he is obviously a shell of the player he once was I still expect him to be batting cleanup come opening day in a very typical Oriole move. The good news for all Orioles fans is that you can bring out your old Tejada jerseys, it will be interesting to see if people tape over the number of their T-shirt jerseys and write on his new number as we so frequently see done with names.
In finality, I am mildly excited about the lineup and expect it to be a tick better than last year, mostly based on the growth of our young position players. I do also expect that the corners will be an improvement in comparison with last year, but that isn’t saying much. It is hard to be too mad about the lineup though since I understand that all we were looking for were warm bodies to man the corners while we wait for our in house prospects. For good or for bad, this team is banking on Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder to become productive players at the corners, and I can’t really argue with that. A team in our market, with our financial restrictions should be building from within whenever possible.