Will a new year bring a new DH?

As we begin the countdown to midnight, I’ve set up my own sobriety checkpoint.

If you still believe that the Orioles will pay $20 million a year for Prince Fielder, you need to hand over your car keys.

Also, the ball is dropping in Times Square, as usual, not in left field at Camden Yards. The location changes after September.

One of my traditions during this time of the year is contributing information for a preview on the Orioles, including a mock rotation and lineup, for a national publication with an early January deadline. Some of the names inevitably change as the club makes trades or signs free agents shortly before spring training. I can only work with the players currently in the organization.

The challenge this winter is submitting the name of a designated hitter.

Vladimir Guerrero was excluded last winter because he didn’t sign with the Orioles until February, but I probably inserted Luke Scott as the designated hitter and chose Felix Pie or Nolan Reimold as the left fielder. The problem was temporarily solved.

It’s not that simple in 2012.

I could make Reimold the DH and put Endy Chavez in left field, but that’s not the intended arrangement. Chavez was signed as a fourth outfielder, someone who could back up Adam Jones in center and maybe platoon with Reimold in left.

The other solution, and it’s also temporary until the Orioles convene at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, is to make Brian Roberts the DH and put Robert Andino at second base.

Outrageous? Well, I’ve written a few times that the idea of making Roberts the DH intrigues at least one member of the organization. However, there are three points that need to be considered:

1. Roberts’ concussion symptoms won’t magically disappear if he’s kept off second base. They started when he hit himself in the head with his bat and resurfaced after he dived into first base. Taking away his glove doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

2. We’re not sure whether Roberts will be ready to do anything in spring training besides sit in the trainer’s room. We can make him the second baseman or the DH right now, but it’s all a guess and a gamble.

3. Manager Buck Showalter would rather use Andino as a super-utility player.

Another option is making Chris Davis the DH and putting Matt Antonelli at third base, but that’s a hard sell for me. Nothing against Antonelli, but I’d prefer a bigger offensive presence at a corner infield position. I’ll assume that most of you agree.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette continues to search for another starting pitcher, but there’s no question that the lineup also needs to be addressed. This team needs another bat, whether it’s swung by Scott or someone else. It’s obvious when you try to come up with a DH.

As 2011 comes to an end, we can put Reimold in left, Jones in center and Nick Markakis in right. We can put Davis at third, J.J. Hardy at shortstop, Roberts or Andino at second and Mark Reynolds at first. We can put Matt Wieters behind the plate.

Then what?

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