If there’s one hole the Orioles need to fill, it’s second base. The Orioles have several holdover candidates. None of them are ideal.
They’re saying all the right things about Brian Roberts, but after three injury-riddled seasons, it’s unrealistic to think that Roberts will be the leadoff hitter and bat 600 times in 2013.
Next year is the last one on Roberts’ four-year contract. During the first three years of his deal, the formerly sturdy Roberts has been limited to just 115 games.
Since Apr. 2010, Roberts has missed significant time with a back injury, two concussions and a right hip injury.
He underwent season-ending surgery on his right hip in August, but met the team for its regular season-ending series in Tampa Bay two weeks ago. He traveled with the team for the postseason and now will resume rehabbing the hip.
“I think it’s gone very smooth so far,” Roberts told CSNBaltimore.com during the series with the Rays. “I’m looking forward to having a fairly normal routine of getting ready for the season, I should be ready for the first day of spring training.”
At 35, the Orioles will be happy if Roberts is able to play even some of the time. In 17 games this season, he batted just .182 and had 12 hits—all singles.
“He's working on his rehab and he's doing well on his rehab. He's moving around and he's starting to run and he wants to come back and play ball," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said.
Robert Andino played second most of the time during the past two seasons when Roberts wasn’t available. His .211 average wasn’t impressive, but he’s earned manager Buck Showalter’s trust.
He received a huge raise to $1.3 million. The Orioles may feel that Andino is now overpriced for his performance. Showalter wanted to use him as a “superutility” player during the season, but he spent nearly all his time at second.
Showalter might like Ryan Flaherty to earn the job, but his defense was shaky and he rarely walks. While he predicted that Flaherty would be a big league regular in 2013, it’s hard to picture him as the team’s regular second baseman.
Omar Quintanilla was picked up in July when Andino was on the disabled list. He had a hot start with the Orioles, but after he hit a home run against Boston on Aug. 14, he never got a hit, finishing the season 0-for-35.
It’s highly unlikely Quintanilla will be back.
Showalter really likes Steve Tolleson, who spent much of the season shuttling between Norfolk and Baltimore. Tolleson, who batted .182 in 29 games, could be re-signed to a minor league deal, but it’s hard to see him back with the Orioles in 2013.
The team is high on Bowie second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who turns 21 on Tuesday. Schoop and Manny Machado played together at Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie, but Schoop isn’t nearly as advanced as his one-time double play mate and probably needs a year at Triple-A.
Toronto’s Kelly Johnson and the Los Angeles Angels’ Macier Izturis are possible free agent targets though Johnson is likely to be too pricey for Duquette.
Duquette may trade some of his pitching to try and acquire a second baseman.