When the phone rang yesterday and it was the producer for "The Mike Murphy Show" on Chicago Sports Radio 670 The Score, I assumed that Murph (as he is known to the Wrigley Field bleacher crowd) was auditioning new partners and got wind of my fabulous weekend shows on WBAL. It turns out the rumor mill is churning again on the North Side about Brian Roberts (left) and he was looking for some Baltimore insight on the situation.
When I got done shamelessly plugging "The Schmuck Stops Here," I told him that it is the general opinion of Orioles fans that the Cubs used up their bullets in the Rich Harden trade and probably don't have the right pieces to convince Andy MacPhail to revive serious trade talk about Roberts. I suppose the O's would be interested in a package including top third base prospect Josh Vitters (who is at least a year away), but a deal with the Cubs would probably have to fill one of the vacant middle infield positions, and I just don't see it.
First things first. The Orioles need to ascertain in relatively short order whether Roberts is willing to sign a contract extension, and I've got to assume some conversation on that subject already has taken place. It's possible that MacPhail already knows the answer, but if it's the wrong answer, he may keep it under his hat to maintain maximum leverage in trade negotiations.
Roberts probably won't draw the same value in trade he would have last winter, because he's only one year away from free agency, but he's one of the top leadoff hitters in the game and should rate a young pitcher and position player with some very strong upside. I think most Orioles fans, however, are hoping the Orioles sign him to a long-term deal and end all this speculation before it takes on a life of its own like it did last year.