For O's, the right call

The Baltimore Sun

So, trading Orioles golden boy Brian Roberts is likely to be as popular as, say, building a hotel that blocks the view of the Bromo Seltzer tower from Camden Yards (Oh, they did that, didn't they?)

But unlike the Bromo tower, Brian Roberts won't be around if and when the O's do a Tampa Bay Rays-like turnaround and actually start playing meaningful baseball games after the All-Star Game. Since that's the reality, the uncomfortable truth is that the Orioles need to ship the beloved second basemen to any team willing to come up with the two, three or more prospects that the club would want for him.

Make no mistake, Roberts has been a good soldier on and off the field. He has fought to prop up a foundering franchise over eight seasons during which he has batted .284. And when his halo slipped, his mea culpa for his fling with performance-enhancing drugs appeared sincere.

Having said that, the Orioles still finished last this season, and second base is among the easier positions to fill on a roster. For a team that desperately needs tons of pitching help and a solution at shortstop, well, if a Roberts trade can help with any of that, the conclusion is inescapable.

Look at the best post-World War II second basemen, Hall of Famers such as Joe Morgan, Rod Carew, Jackie Robinson and Ryne Sandberg. Even when they were part of championship teams, they were pieces of a puzzle. And as the point man for the Cubs, the great Sandberg was never able to carry his team to a playoff series win.

A player such as Roberts is a tremendous asset, but for what he could mean to the Orioles' future in a trade, he's too much of a luxury.

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