Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun
OK, this is an easy one. After 13 seasons with the Orioles, Roberts left this winter and will play for the rival New York Yankees. It was a bit of a blow for Orioles fans, not necessarily because the 36-year-old is gone but because of where he landed. Roberts irked some Orioles fans by telling the YES Network that most kids dream of playing for the Yankees. He later clarified those statements to The Baltimore Sun, saying he did play in his backyard in North Carolina wearing a Yankees uniform, but that was partially because one of his father's players at the University of North Carolina was with the club. Roberts also stressed that he loved his time in Baltimore and will always consider himself an Oriole. What made this the No. 1 issue heading into the offseason was that -- if Roberts left -- it would make an opening at second base, and, theoretically, create a competition for the starting spot. Ryan Flaherty was the favorite at that point, and he is still the favorite. Jonathan Schoop could be the heir apparent for the position, but the consensus is that the 22-year-old needs more time in the minor leagues. We didn't know in October, however, that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette would go out and acquire several other under-the-radar candidates for second base and utility infielder, including trading for Jemile Weeks, signing nonroster invitees Ivan De Jesus Jr., Cord Phelps and Alex Gonzalez, and re-signing Alexi Casilla to a minor league deal. At the time, we also didn't know that third baseman Manny Machado would choose offseason knee surgery, which would make him questionable for Opening Day. That potentially creates more flux at second base if Flaherty has to step in temporarily as the starting third baseman.
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Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Most likely not. The Orioles added various hitters this offseason, such as outfielders David Lough, pictured, and Francisco Peguero, catcher Johnny Monell, designated hitter Delmon Young, Weeks and Rule 5 infielder Michael Almanzar. But only Young has had significant time in the major leagues, and he has a career .316 on-base percentage in eight big league seasons. Only once has he had an OBP above .335 in his career. Several of the new additions have had success reaching base in the minors -- Lough has a .349 career OBP and Weeks' is an impressive .375 -- but that is a whole different ballgame. The Orioles had just two players with at least 150 plate appearances and an OBP over .330 last year: Chris Davis (.370 in 673 plate appearances) and Danny Valencia (.335 in 170 plate appearances). Valencia was traded to the Kansas City Royals in the offseason for Lough. And Nate McLouth, who had a .329 on-base percentage for the Orioles in 2013, left this offseason as a free agent. So it's possible that one of the club's primary weaknesses last season -- the Orioles' .313 mark was 10th of 15 teams in the American League -- worsened. There is still time to improve it with a free agent such as designated hitter Kendrys Morales, whose career OBP in seven major league seasons is .333. But, for now, there doesn't seem to be an obvious increase in OBP on the horizon unless holdovers such as Nick Markakis and Adam Jones improve in that area.
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Shortly after the 2013 regular season ended -- on Oct. 1 to be precise -- we took a look at the five most pressing issues facing the Orioles heading into this offseason. Spoiler alert: Several of those questions are still unresolved as pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Fla., this week. In what has been a strange offseason throughout baseball -- and an incredibly head-shaking one in Baltimore -- spring training will commence with plenty of Orioles questions looming, and some players still available on the free-agent market who could cushion this winter's bumpy road. We'll explore some of the February-March issues facing the Orioles later this week. For today, though, we'll revisit the five questions that were printed in October and see how they were (or weren't) answered. -- Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun