Today brings us a “double-whammy bonus” of sorts for Oriole fans; not only will the first full-squad workout take place, but second baseman Brian Roberts is expected to participate. The extent of his participation and how he ultimately feels I suppose remains to be seen, however this is definitely good news for the Orioles and Oriole fans. However similar to what I’ve said about pitchers performing well and ending up on the roster, this is not to say that Roberts is definitely the starting second baseman on April 6th. However I suspect that a lot of people had doubts as to whether or not Roberts would even be participating in the first team workout after the team had officially reported to camp, so this is certainly viewed as a positive thing from that standpoint. I suppose it’s almost the classic adage of promise low and deliver high.
As has been chronicled, the Orioles come into today’s initial workout with a few bumps and bruises. We already know about the aforementioned Roberts, along with Zach Britton, and Jim Johnson. However backup catcher Taylor Teagarden is also recovering from some knee problems in the offseason, and pitcher Jason Berken “tweaked” a hamstring while throwing yesterday. On the other hand, the Orioles also have several players who will be returning from injuries after the 2011 season, headlined by Britton and Jake Arrieta. According to Amber Theoharis of MASN, Arrieta is looking forward to pitching pain-free this spring after coming off of surgery for bone spurs last year. Speaking for myself, I think that the fortunes of Arrieta with regard to his health may well go a long way towards deciding whether or not this season is a success.
One player a team does not make, so we should keep that in mind with regard to guys such as Brian Roberts. However in his case, you’d be foolish not to agknowledge the affect that Roberts has on the Orioles while on the field. Over 11 seasons Roberts has a WAR of 21.7. WAR is a statistic that’s quickly becoming commonplace in baseball; it stands for Wins Above Replacement. In effect, Roberts is responsible for almost 22 victories that the team otherwise would not have gotten had someone else (a bench player or minor leaguer) been in the lineup in his stead. Some folks are really big on this stat; I’m not one of them. I feel that it’s worth mentioning, however it’s also a fairly subjective statistic. It doesn’t take into account any outside factors such as the guy’s teamates and the opponent. I think that might be a decent statistic in a non-team sport such as Greco-Roman wrestling, however baseball’s a team game.
I’m not totally discounting the WAR, because I think it’s worth mentioning. However more importantly, Roberts has a career OBP as .353. With a team that’s apparently starting to look more at getting guys on base and driven as opposed to literally being a station-to-station team in year’s past. Nevertheless, Roberts is only one player. If Roberts is unable to go, Robert Andino is expected to start at second base. His career OBP of .327 isn’t quite as high as Roberts’, however it’s not too shabby.
The real question is going to be the health of the pitchers, both in the rotation and the bullpen. As has been hashed out so many times before in this column as well as in many others, Dan Duquette has added depth to the pitching staff. If the O’s start going through that depth in the first two months of the season due to injuries among other things. It might be a long summer. First thing’s first; let’s try to get through this first workout today without any injuries!
Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala