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January 30, 2010 | Erich Hawbaker

Miguel Tejada is an Oriole once more. I have to admit I was surprised by this news, and my first question was what number he’ll be wearing this time, because I doubt Adam Jones will give him back #10.

I really wasn’t sorry to see him go two years ago, although I did sympathize with his plight. He arrived here believing that he would be the cornerstone of a team that was going to be built to win, and by the time he left he was so disgusted with the futile efforts of our front office that he probably felt that he’d just wasted the last four years of his life. This time around, although the results have yet to be seen, the team at least appears to be moving in the right direction.

Our biggest hole (not counting the rotation) was at third base, and filling it with Tejada for 1 year and $6 million was a Hell of a bargain. I don’t know how many of us really kept track of him when he left here, but he’s remained very consistent even as he’s aged. At 35, he’s not the power hitter he once was, but his average has stayed above .300, he made the All Star team both years he was an Astro, he hardly ever misses a game, and he even led the NL in doubles last year with 46. I really have to wonder how he stayed a free agent as long as he did.

We also know that this is only a short term solution. All indications are that Josh Bell, the young third baseman we got from the Dodgers for George Sherrill, is going to be another one of Andy’s windfalls who should be coming into his own in the next couple years. Much like Matt Wieters did, he put up big numbers at the plate in Double-A last year, batting .295 with 20 homeruns and 75 RBIs. Pretty good for 23 years old.

But I digress. By going out and getting Tejada, the front office demonstrated a very big deviation from their modus operandi up to this point. Instead of asking the few loyal fans who remain to wait a little bit longer, they actually spent some money and took a step to produce something now. Garrett Atkins may work out and he may not. But with Tejada (and Millwood), we know what we’re getting. Will this finally be the year we don’t finish last, or dare I even think it, finish above .500? I know some of us would be satisfied with just that, but you have to remember the ultimate goal of the regular season is not to break .500; it is to go to the playoffs and win the World Series. Even if things are improving, we must not be placated by it if all that ever happens is that we become the team who is perpetually in 3rd place instead of 5th.

When it comes to the Orioles and their woeful history under Peter Angelos, there’s no bigger cynic than I. But I have to admit I feel a lot better about 2010 going in than I have in a long, long time. We absolutely need one more reliable starting pitcher (please God don’t let them bring Erik “glassjaw” Bedard back too), but the pieces are finally falling into place. I only hope I live to see the day when the hope translates into results.