As enjoyable as the walk-off victory was last night, some enthusiasm was tempered with the earlier news about Brian Roberts. Originally placed on the 7 day DL for concussions, Roberts visited a concussion specialist yesterday and it was determined he would be out of action for at-least 3 more weeks.
A second concussion in a 8 month period is a serious thing. You have to be concerned about Roberts' overall well-being, and wonder if he will ever be able to return to regular action. Obviously the answer to that question has many ramifications to the Orioles. Roberts, who turns 34 in October, is under contract for the 2012, and 2013 seasons at $10M per year.
MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli has stated on Twitter this morning that the O's will look at external options to replace Roberts. It is my thought that with those 2 years left on Roberts' contract, the O's will not make any significant move for a long-term replacement until they definitively know he will not be an on-field option. Any external candidates obtained in the immediate term would be someone to provide another option to Andino or Adams. Hard to imagine finding anything significantly better, I suggest just playing them.
In a few weeks, it should be clearer where Roberts is with his recovery. If he is going to be back in the lineup, you have your answer. If he is still having strong lingering effects, the O's can then consider moving multiple commodities for a longer term option.
Maybe Roberts never gets back, maybe he is ready to play again in 3 weeks. Where I will disagree with some people, is with those that say this concussion is evidence that Roberts should not have received the contract extension. I think that argument is a stretch. I just don't see how him sliding into 1st and suffering the concussion illustrates the inherit and elevated injury risk of an aging player. Does Roberts' limited size make him more likely to have a concussion? Possible, but I still think the concussion suffered was kind a fluke thing though. On the other-hand, the back injury Roberts had last year was a serious health issue. That was the type of thing people worried about when he got the extension. They pointed out that Roberts' game was built around speed, and wondered where his production would be if he lost his legs at all. That it would impact his doubles, his already average/mediocre range, his steals. It should be noted though, that Roberts did get back in uniform and play everyday the last couple of months of last year (prior to giving himself the initial concussion). He was also playing everyday (albeit with very limited production) to start this year prior to this latest issue.
I think where Roberts' absence impacts the O's the most is not at 2nd base, but at lead-off. While we wait to see what happens with Roberts, I think Markakis should be at the top of the order. I made the same argument this Winter, and during Spring Training as well. Just like then, I remain unconvinced of the O's willingness to move Markakis to that spot. At 2nd, I do hope the O's will commit to giving Adams some regular ab's and seeing what he can do.
My last thought here is that this should only increase the O's immediate willingness to try and extend the contract of JJ Hardy. Baltimore will be in a poor position if at the end of this 2011 season, they are tasked with finding starting options for both of the middle-infielders.
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