O's remain reluctant to trade Tejada

Published: Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Orioles are still fielding trade offers for shortstop Miguel Tejada, although they remain hopeful he will be in the starting lineup on opening day.
Angered over the team's inability to garner additional talent this offseason, Tejada has twice expressed his desire to be traded. The Orioles, however, have no intention of giving away a three-time All-Star entering the third season of a six-year, $72 million contract.
"What we're doing is looking for a fair and reasonable return," executive vice president Mike Flanagan said Saturday. "If we can't get back what is fair, we're not going to trade him. He's a guy that's under a long-term contract with us, a targeted player, a terrific player. We're just not going to do something for the sake of doing something."
Flanagan, first-year manager Sam Perlozzo and more than a dozen players showed up at the Convention Center for FanFest, an annual offseason event that drew more than 10,000 Orioles backers.
Tejada was not in the building, but he was the main topic of conversation.
"I totally believe we're not getting the whole picture from Miggy. He's a great kid, he's always been a great kid," Perlozzo said. "I can't believe the faucet went from on to off just like that."
Tejada has refused to return phone calls from Perlozzo, but the manager still has hope that the troubling affair will be rectified by the time the team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 21.
"Sometimes Miggy gets into situations where he says something he doesn't mean and doesn't know how to get out of it. I'm hoping this is that kind of situation," Perlozzo said. "I've got to believe this is going to come out as a positive for the Orioles, one way or another."
For the Orioles, the best-case scenario would be Tejada backing off his stance and displaying the same enthusiasm that has enabled him to become the team leader in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field.
His leadership abilities, as much as his .304 batting average, 26 homers and 98 RBIs, are what make Tejada the team's most valuable player.
"I know he's a little frustrated, but I can't imagine starting the season without Miguel Tejada," pitcher Bruce Chen said. "He's going to be very hard to replace. He's a team leader, a good player. I'm pretty sure he's going to be back. Once spring training starts, I'm sure he'll be OK."
With Tejada playing a key role, the Orioles bolted into first place early in 2005 and stayed atop the AL East deep into June. Baltimore couldn't sustain the lofty pace and tumbled into fourth place, in part because of injuries and the steroid-related suspension of first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.
It's hard to determine if Tejada's production tailed off because of the collapse, but he hit .277 in August and .264 in September and October. He had only four homers after July 27.
Losing, and Palmeiro's suggestion that his positive steroid test might have come from a tainted injection of vitamin B-12 provided by Tejada, clearly disturbed the shortstop.
His ire became more pronounced after the Toronto Blue Jays fortified their roster while the Orioles were outbid for free agent Paul Konerko, lost free-agent closer B.J. Ryan and failed to add a pitcher to a young starting rotation.
For Tejada, the addition of pitching coach Leo Mazzone, catcher Ramon Hernandez and first baseman Jeff Conine wasn't enough to keep Baltimore competitive in the AL East.
"I doubt that Miguel thought last year when we went into the season that we would jump out in front and be 15 games over .500," Perlozzo said. "All I ask is, give us a chance. We haven't finished the roster. We went out and got a catcher, we made a great effort to get Konerko, we got Leo to come over. We're continuing to talk."
To a man, the Orioles hope any subsequent trade does not involve Tejada.
"I expect to see Miggy in an Orioles uniform," outfielder Jay Gibbons said. "I never thought it would come to this; I was shocked it happened. I'm hoping we make a couple more moves, make him happy and get him back here because he's our team leader. He's one of the top three shortstops in baseball, and quite frankly, we need him."
Said Perlozzo: "I truly believe if he's still a Baltimore Oriole, we're going to have a great player. I would still welcome him in, and expect him to be the player he's always been."
Blue Jays trade Koskie to Brewers MILWAUKEE - After the shock of being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers had worn off, the next thing Corey Koskie thought about was steak.
"Milwaukee has one of my favorite steakhouses," Koskie said Friday night by phone from his offseason home in Minnesota. "I don't know these guys at all, so I don't know what I bring yet. I've watched them play, and I've been impressed with the way they play the game."
Koskie was traded by Toronto to Milwaukee late Friday night for minor league pitcher Brian Wolfe. The third baseman became expendable after the Blue Jays acquired slugger Troy Glaus last month.
"Corey brings a presence to a ballclub," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "I've seen enough of him through the years, we felt we could upgrade defensively with him."
Koskie hit .249 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 97 games last season, his first with the Blue Jays after spending the first seven years of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He was on the disabled list from May 20 to July 26 because of a broken right thumb.
"I've been taught to play the full nine innings," Koskie said. "I play hard. I have the wounds to prove it."
The 32-year-old Koskie gives the Brewers an experienced player to complement a young infield that also includes 21-year-old first baseman Prince Fielder, 23-year-old second baseman Rickie Weeks and 23-year-old shortstop J.J. Hardy.
Bill Hall, 26, also had a solid season playing mostly shortstop and third base last year.
"He adds a lot with us having such a young infield in Hall, Hardy, Weeks and Fielder. He's a left-handed bat. He's a great addition," Melvin said.
Hall batted .291 with 17 homers, 62 RBIs and 18 stolen bases last season, and Melvin sounded confident that he would get adequate playing time.
- The Associated Press It was the second significant trade the teams have made this offseason. The Blue Jays acquired first baseman Lyle Overbay and minor league right-hander Ty Taubenheim from Toronto for right-hander Dave Bush, minor league left-hander Zach Jackson and outfield prospect Gabe Gross at the winter meetings in Dallas last month. That paved the way for Fielder, a top power-hitting prospect, to play every day.
Milwaukee improved to 81-81 in 2005, the first time the team has avoided a losing record since 1992.
Toronto signed Koskie to a $17 million, three-year contract before last season, giving him a chance to play in his native Canada. But the Blue Jays had a logjam at the corner infield positions after acquiring Glaus in a trade with Arizona last month.
Along with Overbay and Glaus, Toronto still has Shea Hillenbrand and Eric Hinske.
The Blue Jays also signed a pair of expensive free agents during their busy offseason: starting pitcher A.J. Burnett and reliever B.J. Ryan.
In eight major league seasons, Koskie has a .277 batting average with 112 home runs and 473 RBIs. He helped the Twins win three consecutive AL Central titles from 2002-04.
"Even when I was a free agent last year, my agent approached Milwaukee," Koskie said. "Milwaukee was one of the first places on my list."
Wolfe, a 25-year-old right-hander, went 5-2 with eight saves last season, pitching exclusively in relief at three minor league levels.

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