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When Great Players Cease To Be Great

There was a time when Miguel Tejada was a terrific shortstop, a decent defender who could hit for both average and exceptional power. That time is not now.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Astros have acquired Miguel Tejada from the Orioles for LHP Troy Patton, OF Luke Scott, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Dennis Sarfate and 3B Michael Costanzo.

This is what it looks like when the world realizes your superstar isn't a superstar anymore. Tejada turned in three strong years in Baltimore, but he also turned in an unimpressive one, and when that happens with a 31 year old, a lot of times there's no coming back. So, with two years and $26m left on his contract, the Orioles shipped him to another pathetic franchise this morning, landing:

Troy Patton: nominal top prospect in a bad system, control pitcher with a mediocre 88-91 fastball and a low ceiling
Luke Scott: generic corner bat with questionable defense
Matt Albers: 24 year old with declining peripherals and one above-average pitch
Dennis Sarfate: 26 year old minor league reliever with a big time fastball and horrible control
Michael Costanzo: 23 year old AA 3B who came over in the Lidge deal, good power packaged with a huge hole in his swing and crappy glove

Impressed? Me neither. But then, I don't know if you're supposed to be impressed by the return for a declining shortstop. In between tears, Tejada's going to have a lot of fun with that ridiculous porch in left field, but that doesn't make him a great player again - it just makes him a guy with the strength to hit the ball 315 feet. Even the withered remains of Craig Biggio could do that.

To me, at first glance this trade doesn't look like a win for either side. Baltimore gets out from under an unhappy player with a bad contract, but that money doesn't really help them, and they barely got anything useful in return. (Probably regret that whole Oswalt thing, don't you, Angelos?) For Tejada, a guy who just wants to be on a winning team goes from a laughable AL franchise to its NL equivalent. And as for the Astros, if this trade means they get rid of Adam Everett to make room for Tejada, then that means they unloaded six players (Everett included) for what amounts to a 5-10 run improvement. If they keep Everett and move Tejada to third, then that's a different story, but even then we're not talking about a special player, here. Tejada used to be awesome, but he's not anymore, and Ed Wade just swung a deal that won't even come close to making his team a winner.

What does this mean for the Mariners? If this is the beginning of a Baltimore fire sale, then Erik Bedard just became a lot more available, potentially with less competition if LA is less inclined to remain in the race now that it looks like they have Kuroda. But we'll see. For the moment, Baltimore just got even worse, and the Astros barely got better. Here's to watching worse organizations than our own flail around like headless chickens.