Miguel Tejada (aka "Miggy")
On December 9th, 2005 Miguel Tejada came out publicly and expressed his displeasure with the Orioles organization. I do think the while he may have mentioned it in passing, the media took his statements out of proposition as if he was in the same boat as Manny Ramirez in asking for a trade. Anyways, that day I emailed Seth at sethspeaks.net and asked him about whether or not the Twins had a shot in hell in the bidding for the perennial All-Star. At the time I did not have a blog, otherwise I would've posted my argument sooner. But luckily for me at the time, Seth was following my same train of thought and put together his own argument on how much the Twins could benefit from a trade for Miguel Tejada. Now that I have my own blog, I thought it would be interesting to right my own bit on the situation.
Obviously the Twins have missed their best chances of offering a trade for Tejada, but the window of opportunity is still open at this point. In my opinion the best time to offer the trade came when the Orioles were about to agree to a on contract for aging slugger Jeromy Burnitz. As the deal was in the works, Burnitz turned around and signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. This was Minnesota's best opportunity for which I will explain in a bit.
For anyone who has read Moneyball they might already know some of the Miguel Tejada story. While Tejada had tremendous success developing in Oakland, he was never one of Billy Beane's favorites. Miguel has prooven that he is one of the American Leagues best hitters, but he has also shown a lack of patience as well. Like our Jaque Jones Tejada is a hacker, just part of their personalities. Obviously there are some huge differences between Jones and Tejada though, since Tejada has met much more success. Billy Beane and his new system have sought to find value in guys who are not just great hitters like Tejada, but other guys who nobody notice just having a nack for getting on base. However, that doesn't mean Beane was in a hurry to get rid of Tejada, milking every year out of him until his arbitration years were over. After all, Tejada did drive in over 100 RBI's in five straight seasons with at least 27 HR's. Beyond that, Tejada has prooven himself to be a more than adequate defender at shortstop. After 2003 however, the Athletics made a decision that they would not be able to afford Tejada anymore and didn't even bother offering him a contract. Looking to start re-contending in 2004, Baltimore put up big money for Tejada in a division becoming notorious for some of the biggest spending teams in baseball (I believe the figure was 70 million for 6 years but I'm not sure). In 2004, the Orioles big acquisition payed it's dividends producing his best season of his career. Tejada in 2004 posted career highs in RBI's (150... ouch!), HR's, BA and SLG just to mention a few. While the Orioles only finished 78-84 in 2004, there was improvement from the previous year and there were signs to be optimistic about the future. In 2005, the Orioles came out rolling, I believe they were leading the division by the All Star break as both the Yankees and Red Sox were both dealing with pitcher injuries. However, that lead fell apart after the break and so did the Orioles, with the exception of Tejada. Though is numbers may have fallen off in 2005, it was more due to the production around him than his own issues. He did failed to reach 100 RBI's for the first time in five seasons, but he still had tons of extra base hits and similar career numbers with RISP. Further while his homerun total fell some, he had career highs in doubles and triples, so you can't really blame his decline in RBI's and runs on him. Anyways, by the end of 2005, the Orioles had already ousted their manager and everyone in the organization got back to planning a new strategy for 2006.
I sight the failed acquisition of Burnitz as the Twins golden opportunity because that's when we could chime in and other to add another piece to the Orioles puzzle. See the Orioles had already expressed interest in Kyle Lohse but it hadn't been talked about much because the Twins were looking for offensive help in return and the Orioles didn't have much to offer. In 2006, the Orioles have got to be thinking about rebuilding in a very strong division. The Yankees could be better this year with more stable pitching (and the return of the All-Star lineup), the Red Sox have made several very crucial improvements and should come back a contender and obviously now the Blue Jays are in the mix. The Jays have become sick and tired of trying to compete with what they got and in the off-season went on a big money spree uncharacteristic for a team that doesn't raise a ton of money. So that should make the Orioles ability to contend in 2006 almost impossible with what they have. Lohse would be a good starting point in their rebuilding process. He is still young and still holds a good deal of potential as he has been progressing. In return for Tejada though, they would need much more. This is where Shannon Stewart comes in. Shannon is not the power hitter the Orioles were seeking in Burnitz, but Shannon is a much better defensive outfielder and produces very good numbers offensively without the power. What's nice about a Lohse and Stewart package is that it clears a bit more than 10 million for the books, making Tejada an even salary swap for 2006. Then in 2007 when Tejada's salary starts to jump, you know Radke's going to be off the books and possibly Hunter so that shouldn't be an issue. Still I don't think Lohse and Stewart would be sufficient for the Orioles. I'd sweeten the deal with some of our young pitching as the Orioles rotation remains very weak and needs to rebuild. The Orioles would probably ask for somebody who's close to breaking through like Liriano for example (no i wouldn't even give him up for Tejada unless it was a straight up swap). Personally, I might offer up Perkins to seal the deal with a good lefty, but I'd rather not (and I don't think the Twins would as they have already invested a good deal of money for this hometown boy who is on the fast track as I've already pointed out). Maybe someone like Boof Bonser who is close or someone like Adam Harben who has more talent. I mean in all sincerity there's a lot to choose from in our system, the biggest question is that if the Orioles are more looking for someone to be ready soon, or someone who might be awhile yet but has higher potential. Anyways, to have Tejada for Lohse, Stewart and another pitcher (maybe even Rincon if they want instant gratification) I don't think that's unreasonable.
- ...the last piece of the puzzle to finally make the Twins a legitimate contender.
- ...a true clean-up hitter who hits for power and drive in tons of runs.
- ...someone who is feared by opposing pitchers.
- ...the most durable shortstop in the game (5 straight seasons playing every game).
- ...a great compliment to Castillo up the middle.
- ...a clubhouse leader and motivator.
- ...a fellow Dominican to rear Liriano into the bigs.
So though the Twins may have missed out on their best opportunity to get Tejada, the funny thing is, is that it's not too late. This trade could even wait until the trade deadline down the stretch as it may take that long for the Orioles front office to realize they should commit to restructuring and to realize the full value of Lohse and any other pitcher they might decide on (except Liriano of course).
My 2006 Twins
At the very beginning of the off-season, everyone who had an opinion and a way of publishing their thoughts was able to post what they thought the Twins should do to better themselves in 2006. They were able to do this because they knew who would be free-agents and who possible trade targets would be. Again I missed out on that opportunity, but since I'm the one writing this blog I will take it upon myself to quickly publish what I would've have done to the 2006 Twins. I know it's not healthy to dwell on these things too much so I will be brief as these are only dreams of greatness. Though I didn't work the salaries, I don't think this particular group stretches far beyond what the Twins are already willing to spend for 2006.
1. Lew Ford (LF)
2. Bill Mueller (3B)
3. Joe Mauer (C)
4. Miguel Tejada (SS)
5. Justin Morneau (1B)
6. Torii Hunter (CF)
7. Matthew Lecroy (DH)/ Jason Kubel (DH/OF)
8. Micheal Cuddyer (2B)
9. Jacque Jones (RF)
Any questions? This line-up would have brought an instant end to the power shortage in recent years. There are a bunch of guys able to hit 20 plus HR's and everyone can hit at least 10. I also think this is a great lineup for Kubel to ease his way into when he's ready in 2006. I've been a big fan of Jaque, despite his struggles. His homerun against Garcia to break the no-no to win 1-0 against the Sox will stay in my mind for many years to come. Hitting 9th, he could come back post .280+BA with 20+HR. Tejada would bring that real threat between the M&M boys. Bill Mueller would be that professional bat at the top of the order with strong defense at third. All of a sudden this team wouldn't seem so weak and inexperienced.
1. Johan Santana
2. Brad Radke
3. Carlos Silva
4. Joe Mays/ Fransisco Liriano
5. Scott Baker
Yes I would've brought back Mays because he voiced a willingness to reconstruct his contract and he could have been traded once Liriano was ready. Otherwise the rest of this staff would remain solid.
- Matthew Lecroy was picked up by the Nationals yesterday. We will miss you faithful lefty-masher. I don't know too much about the Nationals but I'll assume he should contribute, hopefully they will recognize his unique talent and play him whenever possible.
- Wayne Krivsky is also gone now officially, becoming the GM of the Cincinnati Reds. Obviously he will be missed as he has helped out Terry Ryan with a lot of deals and such over the past 10 years.
- Tomorrow I will do my predictions for at least the AL West, maybe the East too. I have them down in my head so far, but I want to do a little more research to back my thoughts.