On a day when Miguel Tejada affirmed his desire to stay in Baltimore, the Orioles apparently remained unsatisfied with the offers that they are getting for their star shortstop.
The Los Angeles Angels, still considered the front-runner to land Tejada if he is moved, offered starting pitcher Ervin Santana and Triple-A shortstop Erick Aybar, but that won't be enough for the Orioles to make the deal, according to a source close to the negotiations.
Possibly complicating the talks, Tejada said yesterday that he does notwant to play third base,which is where the Angels planned on playing him with Orlando Cabrera entrenched at shortstop.
"I don't want to do anything right now," said Tejada before the Orioles' 13-11 loss to the Chicago White Sox. "I don't want to go anywhere to play third base. [Shortstop] is the position I've always played. I don't want to disappoint myself and I don't want to disappoint anybody else. If I go somewhere else, I am going to try. But it's not the same [as] if I was going to be playing short."
It's unknown what effect Tejada's declaration will have on the Angels' plans, but it will be amoot point if the two sides can't agree on the components of the deal. It is be l ieved that Santana, a 23-year-old right-hander who is 11-4 with a 4.25 ERA this season, and Aybar, a slick-fielding shortstop hitting .318 with six homers and 37 RBIs for Triple-A Salt Lake, represents the Angels' final offer and it's up to the Orioles to decline or accept it.
In a talk with reporters covering the Angels yesterday, Angels general manager Bill Stoneman intimated as much, saying, "Most of us who are buyers are waiting now. If you don't have your best foot forward by now, not a whole lot is going to change in a day or two."
At this point, it is highly unlikely, said a high-ranking team official, that Orioles owner Peter Angelos will sign off on the Angels' offer, which was first reported Friday night by Foxsports.com.
Declining to discuss specific deals yesterday, Angelos reaffirmed his desire to keep Tejada unless the organization is blown away by a proposal.
"It would have to be an exceptional deal," the Orioles' owner said. "At this point, I haven't heard any proposals that I believe justify trading a special player like Miguel Tejada."
If the Angels added another prospect to their package of Santana and Aybar, like possibly first base prospect Casey Kotchman, the trade could be completed. It is believed that the Angels are not making their top two offensive prospects - Double-A shortstop Brandon Wood and second baseman Howie Kendrick-available in trades.
In the past several days, the Orioles have gotten several phone calls about Tejada, most from teams in playoff contention, said a team source. The source confirmed Foxsports.com's report that the Texas Rangers, who would also likely use Tejada at third base, offered a package focused on third baseman Hank Blalock and prospects; and the Houston Astros have proposed a deal that includes reliever Brad Lidge and shortstop Adam Everett. Neither deal overwhelmed the Orioles.
The Orioles maintained all along that they are seeking a front-line pitcher, such as the Angels' Santana, and two prospects if they were to deal Tejada. Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan and vice president Jim Duquette have not returned phone calls over the past couple of days seeking comment.
Meanwhile, a candid and thoughtful Tejada, in his most extensive interview in several months, reiterated that he is not looking to be dealt, further distancing himself from his public request for a trade last December.
"I'm not trying to leave from here," said Tejada, who was 4-for-6 with three RBIs yesterday. "They're trying tomakeme leave. It's the team, notme. I don't have control of that. Themanager and I don't know who, they want to take me out of here. But I don't want to push to get out of here because that's not what I'm thinking."
The Orioles' front office has been adamant that it is not shopping Tejada. When informed of Tejada's comments, Perlozzo said that he didn't know "where they are coming from."
"It's certainly not something that would come from my mouth," Perlozzo said. "It would be pretty hard to say that you want your top hitter and RBI guy off your ballclub. I don't feel thatway at all."
Despite the fact that the Orioles are headed for a ninth straight losing season, Tejada said that he is pleased with the direction of the team and is happy with the development of the organization's young pitching.
"I am happy because I see what happens here is not because [of] the players," said Tejada, who didn't rule out changing to third base later in his career. "What's happened here is because the other teams are getting better. I think that probably is going to happen to us next year. We are probably going to get better and be better than the other teams.
"Pitching is the question.We already have [Erik] Bedard. We already have some other guys. I think [the front office] knows nowwhat we can get to be a contending team."
But will Tejada be a part of the Orioles' future? The shortstop said that he is trying not to let the rumors, which should grow in intensity before tomorrow's non-waiver trade deadline, affect his performance on the field.
"They don't talk to me, they don't say anything tome," Tejada said. "I don't even pay attention to all those comments they've been [saying] on the TV. I am here. I am going to be here until the day that they don't want me. I justwork here and I amgoing to keep playing here. The day they don't want me, I am going to be happy to leave."