Tejada Happiness Update
Posted by Mike on April 21, 2006
The Orioles are 10-7, one and a half games back from the first place Red Sox. Injuries are starting to pile up, but as long as they keep winning, complaints are going to be few and far between. In yesterday's New York Times, Jack Curry addressed this very issue and how it relates to Miguel Tejada's off-season antics (The link will take you to the article, but it requires registration. Since you're lazy, I've reproduced the best parts below).
He hits, he runs, he fields, he jumps up and down and clicks his cleats, he gives animated handshakes to teammates, he signs autographs for fans and he looks perpetually blissful. The only thing Tejada does not do is speak. Perhaps that is by design. Words can speak louder than actions.
First off, I love the animated handshakes reference. For my money, the Orioles have no better marketing tool than the ridiculously complicated handshakes that Roberts, Mora, and Tejada are all too willing to break into. I think it's a pretty cool thing that the NYT took notice.
More to the point of this passage, Curry is right- no one really knows how happy Tejada is at this point. As upset as he's made me in the past, I'm willing to concede that the root of the problem is that he is uber-passionate about winning on a franchise that hasn't been able to do so for the better part of a decade. So is that going to change now that the O's are off to a decent start? What about if the O's are 10 games back at the all-star break?
How many losses might it take for Tejada, who is in the third year of a six-year, $72 million contract, to resurrect his desire to move to another baseball address? Because there will be lots of losses for Baltimore this season.
"Everything is done," Tejada said. "The team is getting better. That's what I want. I don't want to think about that no more."
The Orioles think about it. Although Jim Duquette, the vice president for baseball operations, said he believed Tejada was content and spoke glowingly of him, the Orioles were disparaged by Tejada once, so they will surely be ready if there are any more words out of shallow left field.
Curry thinks the O's are going to have lots of losses. Tejada is quoted as saying he believes the team is getting better. Again, he's not denying that his happiness is contingent on winning, so the Orioles had better be prepared if the author is right.
I do believe the O's hand will only be strengthened if they are forced to move him this summer. For one, trading partners will be willing to put more on the table if they are in the thick of a pennant race. They'd also be forced to deal young talent, as opposed to established stars, if they expect anything more than lateral movement for 2006. Finally, Tejada's value was still very high this offseason, but he was facing concerns about possible steroid use amidst a sharp decline in the second half of 2005.
"He had to deal with the B-12 thing," Manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He's such a proud guy, and the fact that someone was questioning him, it hurt him."
Tejada's two drug tests in 2005 were negative, but he was worried that his reputation had been forever stained. Tejada said he navigated through it by reminding himself that he was simply trying to help a fatigued Palmeiro.
"Everything that happened there, I didn't make it happen," Tejada said. "Somebody else made it happen."
While Tejada said he never asked Palmeiro for an explanation, he added that he would accept an apology if Palmeiro offered one. Tejada considers Palmeiro a friend, he said.
I find it interesting that Tejada is still taking the high road in regards to the Palmeiro controversy. Claiming that he still thinks of him as a friend strikes me as a bit over the top, but I commend him for moving passed it. If that was, in fact, a major contributor to his desire to leave Baltimore, I don't think the same could be said today.
But in the first week of January, Tejada called Duquette and rescinded the request. It was a dizzying period for the Orioles, who, no matter how they depict it publicly, now have a different relationship with Tejada.
"When we first talked to Miggy, we told him we wanted to turn the page," said Duquette, referring to Tejada by his nickname. "That's what we've done."
Mora, who lives in Baltimore in the off-season, said Tejada called him from the Dominican Republic "50 million times" to ask how fans had reacted to his remarks. The fans want to win, Mora told Tejada, so they were not angry.
It's true, the O's will never have the same relationship with Miguel Tejada. Before the controversy stirred by Palmeiro and Tejada's own silly actions, he was thought of as the second coming of Cal Ripken, or at least the latest in a long line of notable Orioles' shortstops. Now, it's easier to draw parallels to the likes of Manny Ramirez.
It's also a bit heartening to hear of his concern for the fans. Though, at this point, I think it's clear that Mevin Mora does not read the Orioles Think Tank.
"I don't think I hurt nobody," Tejada said. "I think what I said I speak for everybody in here. Everybody wants to win. That's the thing I asked for."
This is the part that bothers me. I'm sure Tejada is correct in concluding that everyone on the O's wants to win, but he did a whole lot of damage to an organization that already commanded little respect. Does he honetly believe that his antics will have little or no bearing on the next time the O's have negotiations with a big time free agent? What about international signings out of his native Dominican Republic? Unfortunately, Paul Konerko proved this offseason not every player out there values money over everything. At some point, it would be refreshing for Tejada to take some ownership of his faux pas.
"What I told Miggy is this," Mora said. "You say you want to win. If you leave, how are we going to win?"
No real commentary is needed here, I just thought it was funny that Mora was playing boolean mindgames with Tejada over the phone.