Brian Roberts hasn’t played a major-league game in 13 months because of multiple concussions and numerous setbacks in his long road to recovery, but the former All-Star second baseman will be in the Orioles’ lineup tonight for the first time since May 16, 2011.
After such a long layoff at age 34 his ability level is anyone’s guess at this point, but before his career was derailed Roberts was consistently one of the best all-around second basemen in the league and posted an on-base percentage above .340 with at least 25 steals every year from 2004-2010.
Roberts’ absence created an opportunity for Robert Andino to take over as the Orioles’ starting second baseman and despite some brief flashes of improved play last season he’s mostly been the light-hitting, utility man-caliber player his modest track record predicted. Andino has hit .256 with a .656 OPS in 197 games since the beginning of last season, producing an OPS more than 100 points below Roberts’ career mark.
And regardless of how Roberts looks in his first game action in 13 months and no matter if he’s an upgrade over Andino or not, it’ll be great to see him back in the lineup after concussions threatened to ruin his career.
Matt Ehalt of The Record reports that the Mariners may have some interest in acquiring second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets. The club hasn’t confirmed anything of the kind, naturally, but the prevailing thought is that they’ll need some insurance at second base if they reach the playoffs, since Cano’s current 80-game suspension precludes him from participating in any postseason series.
On Friday, club GM Jerry Dipoto revealed that Cano will likely return to the team as a first baseman once his suspension expires, while second baseman/outfielder Dee Gordon is slated to remain at the keystone for the foreseeable future. With the infield all but set in stone, however, Dipoto said that acquiring position players at this year’s deadline isn’t likely to be a “primary concern,” especially as the team focuses on strengthening their pitching staff prior to making a run at the postseason.
Still, there’s a case to be made for Cabrera. The 32-year-old second baseman has already improved on some of last year’s totals and is currently batting .282/.335/.492 with 17 home runs (16 more than Gordon has tallied so far in 2018), 21 doubles and an .827 OPS in 385 plate appearances. He could provide some much-needed support behind Gordon until Cano’s suspension lifts on August 14; following the end of the 2018 season, he’s scheduled to enter the free agent pool for 2019.