If I had to wager, I'd put my money on Joe Crede playing third base for the Orioles over former shortstop Miguel Tejada.
Just don't refer back to my NFL picks this season.
I understand that things change as the market plays out. I also assumed that Tejada would be off the board three weeks into Janauary, but he's still on it. And interest in him is limited.
What does that tell you?
Each time that I've asked president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail about bringing back Tejada, I've walked away convinced that it wouldn't happen.
The Orioles never slammed the door on him, but they preferred to go in another direction - one that wasn't backward. A reunion was highly unlikely. That message came across quite clearly during our conversations.
The Orioles don't know whether Tejada can play third, and similar concerns about Dan Uggla removed him from consideration a long time ago. The only difference, as I've written, is his willingness to try it.
I'd rather have Tejada's bat in the lineup, and his reduced range wouldn't be as much of a detriment on the hot corner, though it still could hurt the Orioles on occasion (remember Tony Batista?) But I have to roll my eyes when I read about his leadership and clubhouse influence.
As I remember it, the Orioles still finished below .500 every year that Tejada's name appeared in their lineup. He had a falling out with Sammy Sosa in 2005, and his friendship with Melvin Mora appeared to be strained by the time he left. He usually was the last player to report each day (reporters would keep one eye on the back door of the clubhouse and another on the clock, wondering how he'd have time to dress and get on the field for the mandatory stretch). He didn't run out every ground ball, didn't always look interested or motivated, as another losing season evolved. He once suggested over the winter that a trade would be a good idea. His leadership skills are much more evident on a winner.
I won't bother revisiting the Mitchell Report because I'm sick of it, but you know where I'm going here.
The time was right for Tejada to move on. Maybe it's also the right time to bring him back for a year while Josh Bell gains more experience in Triple-A and learns to hit left-handed pitching. But it's more a process of elimination.
The market is playing out, and Tejada is left out. He's gaining appeal, in part because he's probably not asking for nearly as much anymore, but will it be enough to overtake Crede?
Should it be?