Who’s On Base?: And The Winner Is

By John A. Poole
Updated: November 19, 2007
Eddie Murray Miguel Tejada
l to r: eddie murray & miguel tejada

GLEN BURNIE, MD—Well, It’s a little too early to really know who the winner is in baseball but as always it’s fun to speculate. The 2004 Baseball season has been filled with more free agent signing and off-season trading of substance than any in the past few years. It may be true that free agency has put a new twist on professional sports but it’s also made it kind of interesting at the same time. I mean think about it, last year we had an idea that A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) didn’t want to stay in a Rangers uniform but how many people picked he would be in Pinstripes this year? Or did you think that you would be seeing Roger Clemens ever pitching with a star on his hat?

Well, it’s all come to reality and at the same time it has brought us some winners and some losers in the off-season.

This week we need to talk about the winners. We all know that the Yankees and the Red Sox all made big moves with their acquisitions, but what about some other teams.

We have to say that the Astros made a huge step by signing Andy Petite and Roger Clemens. Two All Star pitchers coming from maybe the best franchise of all time, in the Yankees, will help out a young staff and hopefully reach a new plateau for the franchise.

The Chicago Cubs signed another Hall of Fame pitcher in Greg Maddox to help support Kerry Wood and Mark Pryor while also signing 1B Derek Lee of the Marlins and pitcher LaTroy Hawkins of the Minnesota Twins. Expect the Twins to have a very good season and Dusty Baker to get them to the Finals once again. Can you say Best Manager in the NL?

On the other side of the league we go to the AL East. No, not the Yankees, Red Sox or Blue Jays. We are talking about the new and improved Baltimore Orioles. The Baltimore Orioles have reloaded for the 2004 season with huge key acquisitions in the bullpen and in the dugout. Starting at the top, the O’s decided that Mike Hargrove wasn’t getting it done and signed former Yankee coach Lee Mazilli. Then, they decided that since they had cap room it was time for some true superstars on the team. They looked at Vladamir Guerrero but he decided that the west coast was best for him and signed with the Anaheim Angels. So, instead they shocked the league by signing SS Miguel Tejada and C Javy Lopez.

“The good thing for me is that I will be walking in the same clubhouse that Cal Ripken walked in,” said Miguel Tejada who is a huge fan of Cal Ripken growing up. “That is something that will make me do well for this team.”

Tejada comes from the Oakland A’s where he has played the last 6 years of his career and won the league MVP award in 2002.

Miguel was one of the most sought after free agents this off-season but Peter Angelos the Orioles Owner made it a priority to bring the Orioles back to the promised land. It’s no surprise that the Orioles signed a player that has the longest current games played streak in the majors. He is coming in to play a position dominated for years by Cal Ripken. But can a man of color come to Baltimore and play SS and succeed? It will be hard. Baltimore is a town that is tough on men of color. If you think this may be a little far from the truth, just ask Eddie Murray.

Eddie Murray is maybe one of the best 10 players in baseball history, being 1 of 3 players to collect 3000+ hits and 500+ home runs (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays), but the fans in Baltimore, forced him to leave. Whether it was just or not may not make much of a difference now, but having him sign with the team just in time for him to hit his 500th home run was BS!

Miguel may have a tough time adjusting to Baltimore, but he will not be alone. Javy Lopez who holds the single-season record for home runs by a catcher (43). Coming from the Atlanta Braves, Javy brings a huge bat and incredible experience for a young pitching staff that will need help polishing their skills before and during the season. Catching pitchers like Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz gives a player an understanding of what good pitchers due in certain situations.

The Orioles also brought back future Hall Of Famer 1B Rafael Palmairo (Viagra commercials) and P Sidney Ponson to help out the team as well.

In short, the Orioles are my sleeper pick for the AL East. It will be a tough for them to get past the Yankees and the Red Sox but if anyone of the big players from either team gets hurt then the Orioles could make a move for the division or the wild card.

Continue to check back each week as continue with the Who’s on Base Series on blackathlete.com.