Seeing Brian Roberts in pinstripes is going to be strange. But how will Orioles fans react the first time he plays at Camden Yards as an opponent on July 11? Yep, it’s going to be quite a wait until the Yankees make their first visit to the Yard in the last series before the All-Star break.
No doubt, some boo birds will be heard. After all, Roberts is with the rival Yankees now, even though the Orioles apparently made little to no effort to re-sign him. Heck, some fans are still bitter about Mike Mussina signing with New York in December 2000.
But Roberts will also be cheered by some, maybe a larger percentage than you may think. Despite his injuries the last few years, he got some very nice ovations at Camden Yards last season, showing not every fan was down on him, not nearly.
In an interview with MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko yesterday, Roberts said, “I don’t think I was ever naive enough to think this was just a formality and I’d be back to finish my career with the Orioles. I knew there was a possibility they may want to go in a different direction and time had kind of run out. And I understood. It’s a business and the organization has to make a decision that’s best for them, and there’s absolutely no hard feelings. I understand 100 percent.”
No doubt Roberts will get a mixed reception. Some will cheer, remembering fondly that he was pretty much the face of this franchise during a really low period. Others will have opposite emotions.
It will be an interesting night at the Yard and no doubt fans will have a lot of emotions at work for that game.
* He just turned 19 in December and was one of 12 teenagers to make the Baseball Prospectus list of the top 101 prospects in baseball. That is right-hander Hunter Harvey, the Orioles’ first-round pick last June, who was rated No. 58 after being unranked last week on the MLB.com top 100.
Jason Parks, the national prospect/player development writer for Baseball Prospectus, said Harvey’s fastball could become a plus-plus pitch and that he loved his curveball, calling it a difference maker. He raved about the kid.
So with that talent, how did Harvey fall to the 22nd pick in the draft?
“I think it’s just a matter of some amateur struggles and the inconsistency of young arms,” Parks said. “The fact there was a really good crop in 2013 of polished college arms that you can make a case will move faster and have a little less risk.
“With this kid, it’s more about projection than the present. I understand you might want less risk but the Orioles will be served for taking a kid like that when they did. I really believe in him and I’m sure they do too.”
* How high does Chris Davis rank on the list of the best first baseman in Major League Baseball right now? According to “The Shredder” on MLB Network, only seventh-best.
The network has run a series of shows on the best players in the major leagues at each position again this offseason. “The Shredder,” I guess, is some form of computer generated result using both basic and sabermetric stats.
There was no doubt some of the players on that list would be ranked ahead of Davis, but it was surprising to see Boston’s Mike Napoli one spot ahead of him. Nothing to get too worked up about, of course, just another reason to debate and talk baseball as some of us in the mid-Atlantic region brave more wind chill factors that could have a negative number.
Here is The Shredder’s list:
1) Miguel Cabrera
2) Joey Votto
3) Paul Goldschmidt
4) Adrian Gonzalez
5) Joe Mauer
6) Mike Napoli
7) Chris Davis
8) Freddie Freeman
9) Prince Fielder
10) Edwin Encarnacion
Davis led all major league first baseman last season in homers, RBIs, OPS and slugging, and tied for second in WAR (wins above replacement). Of course, Cabrera played third then and is moving to first this season.
Of the three announcers/analysts on the show, Bill James rated Davis No. 4, Sean Casey had him No. 5 and Brian Kenny had him No. 7.
O’s are No. 10: ESPN’s Keith Law today released his latest rankings of the farm systems in baseball and he rated the Orioles No. 10. The article is subscription- required, but Law does say the O’s top five prospects will be in his top 100, which is coming out tomorrow.
Houston’s farm system is ranked No. 1. In the American League East, Boston is No. 5, New York No. 20, Tampa Bay No. 23 and Toronto No. 24.