So it only took two seasons for Miguel Tejada to decide that he wants out of Baltimore. When he arrived for his first spring training, didn't he make headlines by standing in front of his new teammates and announcing that the losing was over? It turned out to be a bigger job than he expected. Now the whining has begun. Lovely.
We know the Orioles need to add at least one quality starting pitcher, and it's frustrating to see major deals being pulled off by division or regional rivals. But this is no time for the supposed heart and soul of the team to jump ship. Or at least threaten to. There are ways for Tejada to apply some pressure to the front office, if that's his intent, but venting to an AP reporter probably isn't the best method.
Contact the owner directly. Fly to Dallas for the winter meetings. Recruit free agents. Take charge, and remember that you signed for six years, not two.
If the Orioles decide they have to grant Tejada's trade request, where do they turn? Do the Cubs still need a shortstop? The Red Sox? Too bad the Braves already acquired Edgar Renteria.
How about Tejada for Manny? And I don't mean Alexander.
The best solution is to open the vault for Kevin Millwood, though it may actually require that the team begins talks with agent Scott Boras, who somehow eluded them in Dallas, sign a proven closer for a year or two and let Chris Ray ease into the role - if he's ready sooner than expected, all the better - get creative and acquire a big bat, and pray that some of the younger starting pitchers mature, on and off the field. Maybe that will smooth Tejada's ruffled feathers. Daniel Cabrera figures to begin listening to his coaches and catchers at some point. Maybe this will be the year. Try hanging a heavy coat in his locker, as a reminder that April games in Ottawa can be a tad chilly. And Miguel, if you don't like what you see in the clubhouse, don't be shy about placing a foot up somebody's uniform pants.
Just being away from Raffy and Sammy should make Tejada happier in 2006. No matter what he says, players and coaches noticed a rift develop between Tejada and Sosa. And then came the B-12 controversy and a total collapse by a team that spent 62 days in first place. He had reason to be cranky. But let's see what the team looks like when it reports to Fort Lauderdale Stadium next spring before going postal.
Maybe I'm alone here, but I wouldn't hesitate to move Erik Bedard in a trade that would bring a run-producer for a lineup that tends to break down more often than Dick Vermeil around the holidays. Keep Cabrera, Hayden Penn, Adam Loewen. See if Jim Johnson builds on a strong 2005 season. Don't be tempted to bring back Jason Johnson.
I just hope the Orioles exhibit a softer touch while handling the Tejada controversy than they did in recent dealings with some longtime and popular figures in the organization. If anyone really believes that former bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks is OK with the way he was treated after all those years with the club, think again. I know people who have talked to Hendricks and verify that he's extremely upset at being reassigned, and the manner in which he was informed. And a source close to B.J. Surhoff tells me that the outfielder couldn't get anyone to return his calls before VP Jim Duquette finally contacted him a few days ago. There might have been a smoother way to sever ties with a guy who played the game, and conducted himself, the right way.
I'd rather talk about the Ripken brothers and think back to happier times. Cal and Bill will be in attendance for the Aberdeen IronBirds' third annual Holiday Toy Drive at Ripken Stadium on Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. Members of the U.S. Marines will be there to collect items for Toys for Tots. Santa and Mrs. Claus also will make an appearance, but we all know who will attract the biggest crowd. Sure, the Claus' provide gifts for children all over the world, but let's see them turn a double play.
People are encouraged to bring a new, unopened toy to Ripken Stadium. Kids will have the chance to get their picture taken with Cal and Bill, the IronBirds' owners.
More than 1,000 gifts for Toys for Tots were collected by the IronBirds and their fans in 2003 and 2004. Maybe someone will leave a starting pitcher under Mike Flanagan's tree.
I loved this comment from a reader who doesn't exactly relish the possibility of Jorge Julio protecting leads for the Orioles next season.
"Julio could bean a guy," he wrote, "and it would go 450 feet."