Baltimore Sun

Is Roberts next?

The Erik Bedard deal certainly looks as though it’s going to get done, though the club won’t make an announcement without the physicals being completed. Nothing is final until then, and the Orioles don’t issue press releases that confirm they’ve reached an agreement “pending a physical.” Some clubs do it. Not this one.

But there’s reason to be optimistic tonight – if that’s the direction you wanted the club to go. And I’m a little surprised that so many fans were pushing for this deal to be completed because I know Bedard is popular here. But this also shows me that a lot of people embrace a rebuilding plan if it’s executed correctly.
It also shows me that a lot of people figure Bedard is going to leave after 2009 and the Mariners are parting with quality, not just quantity.

Now comes the next question: What about Brian Roberts?

It’s been widely assumed that once Bedard goes, so does the Orioles’ leadoff hitter and second baseman, but don’t be so sure. The Orioles could do a lot worse than entering the 2008 season with Roberts as a veteran presence who’s still locked up through 2009, still capable of stealing 50 bases, still playing Gold Glove defense (minus the actual award), still the face of the franchise. There’s no point in trading him to the Cubs unless the return is worth it.

Any transaction involving Roberts must include a young impact hitter. Ronny Cedeno doesn’t qualify, and you won’t fill a room with people who believe Matt Murton fits that description. Some people view Sean Gallagher as a No. 3 or 4 starter. Nothing wrong with that. Every team needs one. But I’d rather keep Roberts than accept those three players in return.

I’d still try to get Felix Pie to play center field and move Adam Jones to left, assuming Jones doesn’t kill the deal by telling a reporter in Venezuela that Pie is headed to Baltimore to take a physical. If Pie doesn’t cut it, Jones goes to center.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but an outfield of Jones, Pie and Nick Markakis works for me. I’ve heard some fans and media types compare the alignment to Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux and Steve Finley, though that group wasn’t initially expected to provide the same power. (Nobody was projecting Anderson to hit 50 homers and Finley to hit 30 or more in four seasons).

I’d have absolutely no problem with Roberts staying with the Orioles if the Mariners deal goes down. Team president Andy MacPhail hasn’t settled yet. Why start now?