Tomorrow night former Oriole Miguel Tejada makes his triumphant return to Charm City, his first appearance since being traded to the Astros this past winter. One would think that unlike his former teammate Erik Bedard, Miggi won't be faking any injuries to get out of facing his old team.
Since his departure, Miggi has been through quite a bit. The tragedy of losing his brother in a motorcycle accident, his appearance in the Mitchell Report (and the subsequent federal investigation), and the revelation that he is actually two years older than he'd claimed his entire career.
Despite all that, Miggi has responded well to the change of scenery. He's currently batting an even .300 with 9 HR, 41 RBI, and an OPS+ of 112. It's not surprising, really. Though Miggi's luster had faded a bit by his fourth year in Baltimore, he left us an above average player worn down by years of losing, unfulfilled promises, and clubhouse controversy.
Because of the state of the Baltimore Orioles after the 2007 season, the Tejada trade was marked as a success by pretty much everyone. Everyone knew Miggi had to go for the good of the team as well as for the good of Miguel Tejada. Obviously the long term benefits of the pieces that came back to the Orioles won't be known until we have more than just a few months to evaluate Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, Luke Scott, Troy Patton, and Mike Costanzo, especially since what was considered the centerpiece of the trade, Patton, currently sits on the shelf after having season ending shoulder surgery.
List of players who spent time in LF for the Orioles in 2007: Jay Gibbons, Kevin Millar, Jay Payton, Jon Knott, Tike Redman, Freddie Bynum, and Brandon Fahey.
In 2006? Jeff Conine, Nick Markakis (he played 24 games in LF in '06 in case you forgot), Luis Matos, David Newhan, Eddie Rogers, Brandon Fahey, Luis Terrero, Jeff Fiorentino, and Fernando Tatis.
2008? It's been just Luke and Jay Payton. Luke, with his sky pointing and his home run hitting and his fighting with LaTroy Hawkins, has easily become my favorite player of the 2008 season. We still have a lot to learn about Luke. Can he sustain his success? Can he hit left handers? But everything I've learned so far makes me happy. In addition to his competence offensively, Luke really enjoys being in Baltimore. It's obvious every time you hear him talk. Every post game interview, every newspaper article, it shines through. Luke is having fun in Baltimore, is thrilled to have an opportunity.
If you've been to Oriole Park this year and sat in left field when Luke is playing, he has probably waved in your direction. He loves hearing the fans call his name and he acknowledges it. Personally, my favorite seats are in left field, have been for years. This year, that area has become something of a Luke Scott fan club. From the guy in the Darth Vader costume to the dozens of people who shout his name when he runs out onto the field, Luke connects with the fans, and I think it's awesome.
I know Luke, at 30, is a little older than the players most of us want to rebuild with, but I think he can continue to be a valuable part of this team. His attitude, his work ethic, and his desire to be here all point in that direction.
It was clear at the end of Miggi's tenure in Baltimore that he no longer wanted to be here, and it's clear that Luke does. So hopefully this is just the beginning for him.