Was Tejada lighting O's spark, or firing up trade to Boston?

December 12, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

Miguel Tejada does not want to be traded, but if he is traded, he wants everyone in Baltimore to know that he isn't mad at the city or the baseball fans or Rafael Palmeiro or the two teammates who told that congressional committee that he was a human pincushion.

Did you get all that?

OK, that's some pretty serious paraphrasing, but this whole Miggy mess has reached the point where you know exactly how Alice must have felt whenever she saw something in Wonderland and was heard to exclaim "Curiouser and curiouser!"

Tejada told Comcast SportsNet reporter Kelli Johnson yesterday that he popped off to an Associated Press reporter because he was frustrated by the Orioles' lack of improvement during his first two years in Baltimore, but his attempt to clarify this strange situation accomplished just the opposite.

Let's start at the beginning: Tejada suddenly let it be known on Thursday that he might just benefit from "a change in scenery," which was a nice way of saying that he had finally realized that everything they've been crying about on the Orioles Hangout Web site is true and that he'd better get to Boston pronto if he ever wants to play on a World Series team.

At least that's the way I interpreted his comments, which came - oh, so coincidentally - right after the Red Sox traded shortstop Edgar Renteria and began looking for someone to take his place.

So I'm a conspiracy theorist. Sue me.

The whole thing was just too convenient. Somebody from the AP just happens to give Tejada a call in the Dominican Republic and he suddenly decides to pop off for the first time in his career, but the people who pay him $12 million per year can't get a call back for a couple of days.

I don't know if his agents cooked this up or he just got it into his head that if Alex Rodriguez can get himself shipped to a winner, why not me? What I do know is that the Tejada-for-Manny Ramirez rumors got legs so fast that you had to wonder if Tejada had Peter Gammons on speed dial.

Tejada finally surfaced yesterday in the off-mike interview with Comcast SportsNet and said he just wants to win and he went public with his complaints because he feels the Orioles' front office isn't doing enough to make the team competitive in the American League East. He also said the rest of the players on the team feel the same way.

If it were his intention to light a fire under Peter Angelos and the front office, more power to him, but there probably was a better forum than a cryptic Associated Press story that left everybody - the Orioles, the fans, the Red Sox co-GMs - twisting in the wind for the next couple of days.

His comments to Comcast SportsNet may have been conciliatory toward the city of Baltimore and Orioles fans, but he again mentioned the possibility he might be traded even as he tried to claim he wasn't trying to make that happen.

The Orioles still are left to wonder just what to do about him, because there's no way of really knowing which Miguel Tejada will show up at spring training - the old Miggy who is a bundle of positive energy or this new, unfamiliar Miggy whose discomfort in the organization could become a cancerous issue next season.

Former manager Lee Mazzilli used to drive reporters to distraction by summing up just about everything Tejada did and said with the same three-word sentence: "Miggy is Miggy."

Now the Orioles are left to try to figure out if Miggy is still Miggy, and if he isn't, they must decide whether it might be better to go out and make the best deal they can to guarantee they don't have another combustible clubhouse in 2006.

This will probably blow over, but the Orioles will have to think seriously about moving Tejada if a team in another division comes forward with a package of players that would solve their pitching problems and replace some of the run production that Tejada would take with him if he leaves town.

There were whispers over the weekend that the Angels might be willing to part with shortstop Orlando Cabrera and Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon, which would fill the hole left on the infield, give the Orioles a marquee pitching ace and give me another overweight pitcher to poke fun at. Sounds like the perfect package, though I have no idea if the Angels have even picked up the phone.

There have been other rumored offers, too, but the Orioles appear to be focused on defusing the situation.

The one thing I'm pretty certain of is that they are not going to deal him for Ramirez. The last thing the Orioles want to do is send him to a team that plays 19 games a year against them ... and the last thing they need is an even grumpier player with no clubhouse presence who is a daily threat to do what Tejada did on Thursday.

In related news, new Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore last night and take his physical today. Can you imagine what he must be thinking right now?


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