Is this the end for B-Rob?

By on June 21

Due to nagging back injuries, Brian Roberts only played in 59 games last season. This season, due mostly to lingering concussion symptoms, Roberts has been limited to 39 games. And judging by the latest news, Roberts will not be returning to the lineup anytime soon, certainly not before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, not only have Roberts’ extended stays on the DL deprived the team of its only true leadoff hitter and a great defensive 2B, they have also raised the possibility of a very dark prospect for the O’s future: the impending end of Roberts’ career.

Such an early and sudden end to Roberts’ career would be highly unpalatable for a couple reasons. First is the most obvious: his tremendous value to the team. As previously stated, his combination of speed and OBP (above .350 for the last 4 years) make him a very ideal leadoff hitter and very valuable to the offense as a whole. He’s not just a punching Judy, singles hitting leadoff hitter either. When healthy, he is a veritable doubles machine, ranking 1st or 2nd in the AL in doubles 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009. What’s more, in addition to leading the AL in doubles in 2009 with 56, he also set the record for doubles by a switch hitter while doing so. So his contributions on offense alone are certainly tangible. And without delving into the complex world of defensive metrics, I think we can also safely say Roberts is an average to slightly above average defender at 2B. The whole package translates into a player most teams would love to have and one whose absence you certainly notice in the team’s performance. Buck Showalter himself has often cited the return of Brian Roberts as one the primary reasons the O’s went 34-23 under him last season after going 32-73 prior to his arrival.

But perhaps the larger reason Robert’s departure would be disastrous for the O’s is that there is no one even remotely ready to replace him. For most of this season, Robert Andino has been called upon to serve as his replacement, and he’s done fairly well in that role, posting a .253 BA and .333 OBP. He noticeably the lacks the doubles power of Roberts though, as well as the threat of stealing bases. However, Andino is without a doubt an equivalent or better defender than Roberts, so the team loses nothing in that department. In other words, you can live with Andino at 2B, but the drop-off from Roberts is still noticeable.

There’s also Ryan Adams, whose main problem might be that Buck Showalter seems to hate him, as he has appeared in only 9 games since his call up from AAA Norfolk on May 20. Adams has always been a very encouraging offensive prospect throughout his time in the minors, even demonstrating very Roberts-esque offensive tendencies, including a 2010 campaign at AA Bowie where he hit a club record 43 doubles. He was also hitting .303 with a .373 OBP at the time of his call-up to the majors. All of this points to the distinct possibility that Adams could be an everyday offensive contributor at the major league level. The main thing holding him back from the future, which has always been a concern of scouts, is his defense. Now, since I  have never seen Adams play in the minors and Buck seems unwilling to give him any sort of chance to prove himself in the bigs, it’s hard for me to say personally how valid these concerns are and to what extent, if any, Adams has already overcome them. But you would think with Roberts’ future being so uncertain, it’d be time to find out whether Adams has any hope of being his long term replacement.

For now, I don’t think the team is suffering with Andino at 2B and I could definitely live with him at the position for the rest of the season. But I think everyone is hoping for a better option in the long term, including Andy MacPhail. Personally, I’m hoping we get B-Rob back and he stays healthy for the rest of his contract, allowing someone like Jonathan Schoop to mature and possibly replace him. The odds are against it, but that’s the reality of life as an O’s fan, so I’ll keep believing it can happen until I’m forced to believe otherwise, because I’m not giving up, and hopefully neither is Brian Roberts.

5 Responses to “Is this the end for B-Rob?”

  1. Paul O. says:

    I’m glad to see someone else is concerned too. I guess we all thought Brian Roberts would never retire. This year we are seeing the downfall of both Roberts and Markakis, to a degree. They are human after all. This needs to be a concern for the organization. We have a future stars in Machado and Adams, but Adams isn’t getting playing time with the Orioles. Prior to Lee’s recent ability to hit the baseball I wanted to see Snyder at first, and Adams at second. We are in last place again, so its time to get that future team established. We know Guerrero won’t be back, so get him out of here and play Snyder or Adams at DH. We have a logjam of guys I want to see at DH. Reimold/Pie should play LF. Snyder, Adams, Reimold/Pie and Scott should be seeing time at DH to make a decision for next year. Heck even Fox could have been given more time at that position.

    Getting back to Roberts…I didn’t see any major moves made last year when Roberts was hurt to replace him. I think they lean on Andino too much. This spring we got enough middle infielders to cover injuries, but nobody is hitting at AAA.

    Right now I’m just venting about anything and everything Orioles. Gonzo needs to go. The major problem is we can’t get Berken or Bergesen pitching well enough to replace him. We don’t have a good lefty at AAA either.

    Even though the Orioles are trying to build from within we still seem to have glaring holes to fill. 2B, 3B, Lefty pitching(relief), etc. Now that we have a young Reynolds I’m not too worried about Josh Bell being a bust, but I’m still worried about what we would do if he became injured. AAA pitching is bone dry IMO. Correct me if I’m wrong about any of these. I haven’t checked stats in 1 month.

    Let’s get Brian healthy! The guy NEEDS to stop sliding into bases head first. Even if he has to come back and never steal again…I will be happy with his Doubles.

  2. Paul O. says:

    Let me throw out some stats for other well known second baseman:

    Player Games played AT 2B Errors Fielding %

    Roberts 1136 69 .987
    Utley 962 88 .982
    Cano 956 73 .985
    Hill 698 43 .987
    Kinsler 680 78 .978
    Pedroia 620 27 .990

    Out of the other offensive 2B I believe Dustin is the only one that is notably betting on the field.

  3. Mark
    Mark says:

    Yeah I think the stats you provided demonstrate Brian is a competent fielder. At the same time, almost all of those guys, except maybe Hill, are better offensive players than Roberts, in some cases by a wide margin. Nevertheless, Brian’s value to our team cannot be understated and we’ll just have to hope that if he does make it back this season, he can play from there on out without incident.

    Regarding pitching at AAA, yeah there’s no one there to get excited about starter-wise that I’m aware of. Cole McCurry is a name you might want to look at though. He’s a lefty reliever who was dominating AA Bowie and just got promoted to AAA. Dan Klein, a pick out of UCLA, last year, was also dominating at the lower levels as a lefty reliever, but he was recently injured. There’s also talk he may be ultimately used as a starter instead of a reliever, but he’s a name to keep an eye on. As for starters though, I’m betting the Bundy bros. are going to be the next legitimate, long-term starters to come out of the system. Add them to the three legitimate young starters we already have (Matusz, Arrietta, Brittton) and then maybe we’ll be onto something (we’ve been saying this for years though).

  4. Paul O. says:

    Yes they may be better offensively in different categories, but the main point is that Brian was our “complete package” at 2nd. He is an offensive force(minus the homeruns) who we need at the top of the lineup because he can also hold his own defensively. For some reason Showalter likes Davis over Adams, so we will have to live with it.
    Andino can’t hit when it truly matters.

  5. Paul O. says:

    At the plate Blake Davis had a good weekend. We also took 2 of 3 from the Reds, so I’m currently in a good mood.

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