News has come in that Brian Roberts will have surgery to repair a hamstring tendon behind his knee. As an Oriole fan it’s hard to watch one of your favorite players fall apart. Brian was a excellent lead off guy who could steal a base when needed, maybe one of the best to steal 3rd. While having good speed, he wasn’t a blazer like Ricky Henderson or Carl Crawford, he just had a knack at getting a good jump off the pitcher.
He has a minimum of 6 weeks of recovery and then another 2-3weeks of doing baseball related activities which makes his return around mid to end of July if all goes well. He still has the potential to make an impact for the last two months of the season if healthy, but his track record is against him. He has been limited to 118 games over the past four seasons with various injuries and at age 35 in the final year of his contract, this will probably be the last chance for him to make a playoff appearance with the only organization he has ever known since being drafted in 1999. Retirement is a big possibility at the end of the year.
Here is a look at the current 2nd basemen within Baltimore’s organization:
Ryan Flaherty: Still batting below the Mendoza line (.200) and still trying to figure out how to be a good hitter. I think Buck has fallen for this kid for no other reason then his defense. He has turned 21 double plays so far and to his credit he has worked very hard on his defense in the off-season. Being in the AL East our everyday 2nd basemen needs to hit for better average and I’m not sure Flaherty is the answer for the future.
Alexi Casilla: The career .240 speedster has only appeared in 15 games this year as he is platooning with Flaherty. With the team’s lack of speed I would think the 28 year old would be the better option to start more games. His defense is equal to Flaherty but I’m thinking Buck just likes the chemistry Hardy and Flaherty have together. At some point he needs to get more time because there were other cheaper options then paying him $1.7 millon to sit the majority of the year.
Jonathan Schoop: The 21 year old is the apparent future for 2nd base. The kid had a great World Baseball Classic showing off his power with the bat . He had a good spring training but the team wanted him to go down to work on his defense in the minors. He is currently playing SS in AAA after being switched 13 games into the season from 2nd. He has 5 errors at SS and 0 at 2nd. While he’s not as highly rated as Manny Machado, Schoop is versatile as he is able to play 2nd, SS, and 3rd. If he picks up his batting expect him to be brought up when rosters expand.
There is also always the possibility of the Orioles looking for a second base replacement by making a trade. This would allow them to secure a solid, or at least capable, player at second, while be able to continue to groom Schoop in the minors. Some possible trade targets could be Donovan Solano (MIA), Chase Utley (PHI), and Stephen Lombardozzi (WAS).
Regardless of whether it is through trade or by calling up Schoop, something needs to be done to fill the void Roberts is leaving. The O’s are going to need someone to step up, as consistent production at 2nd is not where it needs to be.