Leading It Off Without Brian
It took only two days of Spring Training before Brian Roberts had to sit out the team’s activities. This time it was only a precautionary measure for the stiffness in his neck. Roberts left the complex for an X-ray, and, according to manager Buck Showalter, no disk issue was shown.
Roberts, as he ages, is becoming more prone to injury, limiting both his playing time and speed that are so crucial to the squad. He only played in the season’s first four games in 2010 before being sidelined with a back injury until late July.
With Roberts seeming to be falling apart, MASN Orioles asked on their Facebook page who should lead-off for the O’s on days where Roberts isn’t playing. The question is probably one we don’t really want to look at, but need to.
Last season the answer would have been easy – Corey Patterson. His speed and hot bat at the plate was ideal for the lead-off position. Patterson is now a Blue Jay.
Pie would also have been a good option, batting lead-off in eight games for the O’s in 2010. However, with the acquisitions of Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, Felix Pie is sentenced to a bench role in 2011. Putting Pie in the lead-off spot would mean taking away at bats away from Vlad or Luke Scott, something the O’s don’t want to do.
Julio Lugo lead-off a few games in 2010, but he’s currently unemployed.
On the current roster, there are very few options for the Orioles at lead-off outside of Roberts.
Center fielder Adam Jones lead-off 15 games for the O’s in 2010 and struggled mightily. He hit .188 with a .443 OPS and only two extra base hits, both doubles. Jones was trying to do too much with the bat, trying to be Brian Roberts and couldn’t.
As mentioned before, outfielder Felix Pie is in a bench role and will be unaffected by an injury to Roberts. Pie can not play second, and Lord knows we don’t want to see him try. Pie would not DH or play LF just so he can lead-off either, the bat will always stay in Vlad and Luke’s hands. The only way Pie leads-off on a regular basis is if Derrek Lee has a Garrett Atkins-esque season, moving Scott to first and Pie to his home in left.
The only logical option for lead-off would be the man filling in for Roberts at second – Robert Andino. Andino played well in 16 games last season, collecting a .295 average, a .333 OBP, and driving in six runs. Andino is not the best hitter and that certainly hurts the Orioles offensively, but he is the best option for the team.
Who else is there?
Nick Markakis? Long shot.
J.J. Hardy? Not quite.
Mark Reynolds? No.
Luke Scott? Absolutely not.
Matt Wieters? HA!
Vladimir Guerrero? I think you need to have knees to lead-off.
I hate to say it, and I know a lot of you (or the two of you that actually read what I write) hate to read it, but you have to lead off Robert Andino in the absence of Brian Roberts. Let’s just hope Brian has perfect attendance this season, or close to it.