Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tejada back in Baltimore

Miguel Tejada, the 35-year old (plus or minus a few years) who played shortstop for the Orioles for four years, has returned to the Orioles for $6 million to play third for the team that did not keep Melvin Mora. Tejada is most certainly a step up from Mora who declined dramatically in the past year. He will be cheaper than Mora too. Plus, even if his age catches up with him, the one year deal carries little risk.

Tejada was not a very good shortstop. His RTOT of -20 last year for Houston tells a pretty ugly story, though his range remained above average. Third base seems like a real good move for him at this stage of his career.

He also had a good year at the plate last year with 199 hits and a 109 OPS+. There are two things that raise some flags though. First, Tejada was never very patient at the plate. But he had averaged 44 walks per 162 games for his career. His usual high batting average kept his OBP in the decent range. But the last two years, despite not missing any time in the field at all (he played 158 games both seasons), his walk total has dipped. He walked 24 times in 2008 and only 19 times last year. That's in Molina territory.

The other red flag was his home/away splits last year. His line at home was, .343/.367/.512. On the road he went, .283/.313/.395. That's a Coors Field-like difference, is it not? Translated, that's an OPS+ at home of 127 and 93 on the road. That's a big swing. Just for reference, the Fan looked up his career splits in this category and for his career, the split is much closer. The Fan also looked at 2008 since it was the same ballpark and again, the splits were much closer. So either last year was an anomaly or as he gets older, he uses a home friendly park more to his advantage.

Since he is (for all we know) off the steroids now, his home run power is not what it used to be, but he does have gap power and he hit 46 doubles last year. Oh, one more thing for Orioles' fans to look out for: He led the league in each of the last two years in grounding into double plays.

The Orioles will be thrilled if Tejada plays decent defense at third, bats around .300 and comes in around 100 for OPS+. For six million bucks, that's not a bad deal to hold down the position for 2010.

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