This is now part three of my multi-part series, "Around the Diamond," as today we take a look at second base for Baltimore.
When you think of the Baltimore Orioles, what current player comes to mind? Is it the star youngster Nick Markakis in right field? How about Silver Slugger Award winner Aubrey Huff at designated hitter?
Though these players stand out amongst the team, many people can only think of one man: Brian Roberts.
Just a quick recap on his numbers last season: He hit for a .296 average, with 9 homeruns, 57 RBI's, 107 runs scored, and 40 stolen bases.
One could argue that Roberts is the best leadoff hitter in all of baseball. He is someone who not only hits for a solid average, but can get the extra base hits as well. Last season, he hit 51 doubles and eight triples, enough for him to be one of the top extra-base hitters in all of baseball.
Let's take a look at his defense for a moment.
Last year, he committed a mere eight errors, giving him a .989 fielding percentage to end the 2008 campaign. Not only that, but he has been recently nominated for the "This Year In Baseball Defensive Player of the Year" award. He is most known for his ability to cover much of the right side of the infield, making diving plays, jumping grabs, and throws from his knees to get opposing runners out.
One final side of Roberts' game that needs to be covered is his speed. With his 40 steals last season, he ranked number eight in all of the majors for the league leaders for steals. Out of his 50 steal attempts, he was only caught ten times, making him a deadly weapon while on the base paths.
"Should I stay or should I go?"
That is the main question that Brian Roberts should be asking himself at the moment.
Around the time of the annual Winter Meetings, the Orioles' President of Baseball Operations, Andy MacPhail, plans to attempt to negotiate with Roberts and outfielder Nick Markakis regarding contract extensions.
This is something that may not come as easily as originally hoped for.
Roberts has been on the O's since his rookie season in 2001, and with that he has had to endure the hardships of a long, painful losing streak. Does Brian really want to stick with the squad for another season?
Knowing Roberts, I would say that he wouldn't mind it nearly as much as some people may believe. He should realize that he is not only a fan favorite in Baltimore, but he is also the face of the franchise. Sure, people can say otherwise, but as of now, Brian Roberts is, and as long as he's with the team, will probably always be the leader of the ball club.
Now to the business aspect.
If a solid deal is offered for Roberts, should the O's consider taking it? In my opinion, it all depends on who is involved in the trade. If a solid second baseman prospect plus a couple of starting pitchers are offered, then I may consider, but otherwise, Roberts must stay an Oriole for the sake of the club.
Besides, as Orioles' fans, we have to look at the possible situation. As of many recent reports, the Orioles are expecting to make offers to free agents Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. Now, odds are that the O's may not got either one of these star commodities. However, if they do, I would like to see Roberts leading the way in the lead-off spot.
So if the right offer is made, then consider it. Otherwise, the Orioles' front office needs to get an extension finalized.
Baltimore Orioles' manager Dave Trembley said it best himself.
"I don't see Brian Roberts going anywhere. Brian Roberts to me is a Baltimore Oriole."