Brian Roberts: Don't Blame the Player, Blame the (Business) Game

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Brian Roberts: Don't Blame the Player, Blame the (Business) Game
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Brian Roberts spent his entire 13-year career with the Baltimore Orioles before signing with the New York Yankees this offseason.

Late last night, news broke from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that longtime Baltimore Orioles second baseman and fan-favorite Brian Roberts was "likely" to sign a deal with the New York Yankees.

This morning, his colleague Jon Paul Morosi reported the agreement: a one-year, $2 million deal.

Orioles fans, Brian Roberts will be wearing pinstripes in 2014. That's the reality of the situation, and I know it's quite upsetting for most of you, including myself.

But before we all jump down Roberts' throat and refer to him as a "traitor," let's take a minute to analyze this situation.

The Yankees are a team that almost always finds a way into the playoffs, and Roberts has yet to appear in a playoff game in his entire career as he was injured during the playoff run the O's had in 2012. The Yankees also offered him guaranteed money with the chance to earn more, as his $2 million deal includes incentives. They offered him playing time, as they have a vacancy at second base now that Robinson Cano is gone, while on the flip side, the O's have about 700 second-base candidates competing for the starting job.

But more than anything, the Yankees offered Roberts interest, something the O's failed to do at all this offseason.

I'm not going to get into whether resigning B-Rob would have been good or bad for the team, because it's no longer about that as that's not even a possibility anymore. I've seen enough bashing of Roberts by Orioles fans on Twitter to get my blood boiling. Many fans blame him for his departure to such a hated rival, calling him a "traitor" (at least Baltimore fans know how to spell), but that simply isn't an accurate assessment of the situation.

Up until last week's winter meetings, there had been no signs that the O's reached out to their former longest-tenured franchise piece, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Kubatko stated that since O's Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette was focused on adding starting pitching, a closer and a left fielder, he had "basically put second baseman Brian Roberts on the backburner."

Steve Melewski of MASN Sports reported last week that the O's don't have a deal in place with Roberts, but that manager Buck Showalter would like to see him return to the club. In that same piece, Melewski has Duquette quoted as saying:

"Well, we've been working this week mostly on looking for a left-handed hitter and a DH and we've also been trying to add to our pitching staff, so that is something we can get to later on."

"We are still open to (re-signing Roberts). Let's see how out team shapes up and we'll address that at an appropriate time."

And Kubatko wrote today that the O's had apparently reached out to Roberts' agent last week, which is actually surprising news to me. The team didn't sense that Roberts was prepared to sign anywhere quickly.

Who is to blame for Brian Roberts signing with the New York Yankees?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Seems like that's how the O's have felt about every free agent available this winter.

In this day and age, $2 million plus incentives is nothing in the baseball world. The Orioles were worried that Roberts would demand something more like $8 million on a one-year deal. So if they really wanted him back, they could have easily afforded him, as could any club in the MLB.

Evidently, the front office didn't want him back badly enough. Or Kubatko is correct in saying that Duquette and Co. simply didn't think Roberts would sign that quickly, in which case that would be unacceptable. If you're a team's general manager and you want to sign a player, you go out and pursue that player. Maybe Duquette was in fact focused on thinking about possibly offering potential deals to players to try to fill other holes on the roster.

To those fans who wanted B-Rob back in the orange and black, this is a slap in the face to you. The team did absolutely nothing to retain him, and the longest-tenured Oriole deserves better than one phone call to gauge his interest in returning. During the offseason, every deal and every hole to fill is a priority, not just the ones that a front office feels like focusing on at any given time.

Orioles fans, don't blame B-Rob for his departure. The man is seemingly healthy for the first time in four years after having strung together 75 injury-free games during the second half of the 2013 season, and as he has yet to appear in a postseason game, the Yankees are a logical destination to make that dream a reality. The market for a 36-year-old injury-plagued second baseman can't be too big, and when that's what you are and you're given a chance to play every day on an assumed contender, you snatch up that opportunity.

Especially when your former longtime employer hasn't so much as asked you how much money you're looking for this offseason, and the offseason is over a month-and-a-half old.

Instead, O's fans, remember Roberts for being a bright spot during 14 years of losing, and for signing an extension and sticking with a losing team prior to the 2010 season. Obviously, Roberts didn't truly earn said deal, but the commitment he had to the franchise as well as the commitment to the Baltimore community through all the charity work he does showed his deep passion for Baltimore and for the Orioles franchise.

If the O's had offered the exact same deal to Roberts the Yankees did, Roberts likely would have stayed in Baltimore. Had the O's offered almost any deal whatsoever to Roberts, he likely would have stayed. But the team didn't, and they failed in that regard.

This one is entirely on the O's front office. They didn't do their job. Their failure to even negotiate with a fan favorite adds insult to an already frustrating offseason completely lacking developments, serious acquisitions and forward progress within the roster.

It's time to start paying attention to the offseason, Duquette. It did start, a while ago. This is about more than losing Roberts, this is about losing nearly every target you've had this offseason.

You're running a major league team. Act like it.

Load More Stories

Follow Baltimore Orioles from B/R on Facebook

Follow Baltimore Orioles from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Baltimore Orioles

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.