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A lot of Orioles fans were excited when the team shipped Miguel Tejada to Houston. From what I could tell by reading comments at the time, some fans were satisfied with the players the Orioles received in return, while others felt the team didn't get enough for the shortstop.

Personally, I think it is a good deal any time you can get five young players in exchange for one aging veteran -- especially some of the Astros' best prospects. It was pretty clear that Tejada's time in Baltimore was going to end without the competitive team that he promised the fans when he signed here as a free agent in December 2003. By getting three young pitchers, an infield prospect and a starter for their opening in left field, the Orioles appear to be on the right track to rebuilding their team for the future.

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Even if only two of the players turn into solid major leaguers, the deal will still be a success. If three or more of the players prove to be decent players, then the team will have finally paid back the Astros for that infamous turning point in franchise history -- the dreaded trade for Glenn Davis .

While not exactly tearing up National League pitching in Houston, outfielder Luke Scott did show some power potential last year with 18 homers and 64 RBIs in 132 games. Although he only hit .255, Scott could replace Tejada in the lineup and hit fourth behind right fielder Nick Markakis.

After a check of Scott's performance for the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League, I'm not so sure that he will be able to replace the production that Tejada brought to the team.

In 27 games of the winter league regular season, Scott hit .211 with three homers and 13 RBIs. Although his low batting average is alarming, the most troubling statistic is that he struck out 26 times in 90 at-bats. Some teams can afford to have cleanup hitters that strike out almost once a game, but that's because they compensate by hitting 30-40 home runs per year.

Philadelphia's Ryan Howard is a prime example of this. Did the Phillies really care that he struck out 199 times in 144 games last year? I don't think so because his 47 homers more than made up for it.

However, the Orioles can't rely on a guy in the cleanup spot who strikes out nearly once a game because they don't have the Phillies' supporting cast, one that could deliver when Scott whiffs. That's part of the reason why the Phillies were a playoff team last year and the Orioles wouldn't have even been a playoff team if the season ended in May.

Because Scott did not play as much as a lot of the players in the Venezuelan Winter League, it's hard to gauge how his statistics compare to others. Judging by other players' stats in the Venezuelan league, it seems like there are a high number of strikeouts overall. Therefore, I wouldn't automatically assume that Scott is going to strike out a lot for the Orioles this season. Last year in Houston, Scott had 95 Ks in 369 at-bats, an average of 1 per 3.9 ABs, better than his 1 per 3.5 ABs from this winter league season.

With that said, I would keep a close eye on his performance in spring training before reserving a full-time position on your fantasy team for him. If I were Orioles manager Dave Trembley, I would not commit to him in the cleanup spot without taking a long look at the strikeouts issue, or you could see a lot of teams pitching around Markakis and going right at Scott.

One last thing: If you're looking for a positive in his performance during the winter, I'd point to the fact that two of his three home runs came against left-handed pitchers. This could prove valuable, especially if he bats behind Markakis, because there will be a lot of left-handed relievers entering the game in the late innings to face them. If Markakis and Scott can prove they are able to successfully hit against lefties, then they could cause some difficult decisions for opposing managers.

Fantasy spin: While I don't think Scott is the answer for the Orioles in the cleanup spot, he will get a lot of at-bats this year. I'd look at him in the later rounds as a fourth or fifth outfielder for your team if he is still available -- which he should be. I still think he'll be able to put up 25-30 home runs if he plays the entire year in left field. The batting average may hurt you a little bit, but hopefully the power production makes up for that.

-- Dean Jones Jr.

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