There was a lot of reaction on Monday when Brian Roberts signed a one year contract with New York. Many people immediately blamed Dan Duquette, Peter Angelos, or anyone that appeared to have some sort of control over things in the Warehouse. However if Duquette and Buck Showalter’s public comments are to be believed, I think the Baltimore Orioles might have had in mind to re-sign Roberts – maybe. Nevertheless, it appeared to come as a bit of a shock that he left. So with that said, was it wrong or unfair of Roberts to sign with another team in that manner?
Let me unequivocally say that in my opinion it’s not. It’s very possible that Roberts and his agent thought this might have been the best offer they were going to get, so they took it. However just to play devil’s advocate, it’s worth mentioning that Roberts spent the better part of four years collecting his salary from the Orioles while on the DL. During that time, the Orioles were incredibly supportive and very loyal
to Roberts as a player or employee. Some might recall that years ago Andy MacPhail was going to trade Roberts to the Chicago Cubs, only to have owner Peter Angelos nix the trade because he liked Roberts (and Roberts was a fan favorite). So this was a guy in whom the Orioles had invested a lot, both financially and emotionally. (It’s also worth mentioning that the deal would have ended up being a bad one for the Orioles, given the players that would have been involved.)
I will say this; IF Roberts had told Dan Duquette that he would contact them before taking another offer, that kind of shines a poor light on Roberts. There’s no evidence that says he had committed to doing that, however what is factual is that the Orioles were caught off guard. Personally I see it as one of those deal with it and move on type of deals. However on paper Roberts owed the Orioles nothing in terms of letting them know what was going on. I suspect that his agent told the Orioles he was ready when they were, and when he got no formal correspondence he shopped his client elsewhere.
In a lot of things there’s more than meets the eye, however I really don’t think this is one of them. Regardless of who snubbed who and who owed what to whom, let’s not forget that Roberts is a 36-year old injury-prone second baseman. This is hardly the kid in his prime who hit a walk-off home run in June of 2005 to beat the Yankees at Camden Yards, or the perennial all-star. That’s no knock on Roberts, however time and wear & tear take their toll on all of us eventually.