Last night the Orioles traded closer Jim Johnson for second baseman Jemile Weeks, the second 2B the Orioles have picked up in less than two weeks. Back on November 25th they claimed Cord Phelps on waivers from the Indians. Neither is exactly Robinson Cano, but between those pickups and the second baseman already in the Orioles system (Ryan Flaherty, Jonathan Schoop), it looks like Brian Roberts is the odd man out.
As the 2013 season was coming to a close, Brian Roberts appeared to have made his peace with the idea of the Orioles not re-signing him. Roberts understood that it might not be in the best interests of the Orioles, and for good reason. Not many contending teams need a 36-year-old second baseman with major injury history who hit just .249/.312/.392 last year.
The four second basemen on the O's 40-man roster range in age from 22-27 years. Schoop is the top position prospect in the O's system, Flaherty and Weeks are former 1st round picks, and Phelps has put up big number in the minor leagues. None are a sure thing but all provide more hope for the future than Brian Roberts.
As I wrote back in September, if Roberts does choose to retire this season, it's one of the best outcomes under the circumstances. He finished the season healthy and finally got to play for a good (although not playoff worthy) team. He doesn't have to retire because of his concussions, he can just retire because that's what old baseball players do.
Brian Roberts was the face of the Orioles for an entire generation of fans. He was a bright spot on a roster full of duds, and from 2004-2009 he was one of the top leadoff batters in baseball. He's also one of the final holdovers from a very dark period of Orioles baseball, and even though I'll be sad when he's officially gone, it does give a bit of closure to that time.
When I watched the last game of this season I found myself very aware of the fact that it might be my last time watching Brian Roberts play in an Orioles uniform. It was sad, but not too sad. Roberts had a very good career and he'll always be loved in Baltimore. Whether he retires or goes to another team, he'll always be an Oriole to me.