A few days ago, I wrote about how the New York Yankees needed to address their second base situation for the first time in nine seasons. I talked about how the Yankees can’t afford to go into the season with Kelly Johnson as their everyday second baseman.
After losing Robinson Cano, the Yankees lost out on free agent Omar Infante, who signed with Kansas City, and then rejected a trade proposal from the Reds for second baseman Brandon Phillips in exchange for outfielder Brett Gardener.
Well, the Yankees now have a new second baseman after coming to terms with second baseman Brian Roberts on a one-year, $2 million contract. While not a total replacement for Cano, when healthy, Roberts can be a very effective player.
The key thing with Roberts is that he hasn’t managed to stay healthy since 2009. The 36-year-old played in only 77 games in 2013, which is the most games he has played since 2009. Roberts hit .249/.312/.392 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs this past season.
Roberts has played his entire 13-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, being the face of the franchise many of those seasons. Roberts ranked among the all-time leaders in Orioles’ history in many categories, stolen bases (third), doubles (fourth), runs (seventh) and hits (10th).
He is an adequate pick up for the Yankees but the problem is his health, and things won’t get any better as he ages. He is a cry from his All-Star days when the Roberts was a two-time All-Star for the Orioles.
In recent years, Roberts has been hampered with concussions, neck, back, knee, abdomen, hip and hamstring injuries, appearing in 192 games out of 648 the past four seasons.
Johnson and Roberts now will team-up to fill the hole Cano left for the Yankees. Roberts comes in with a .349 career on-base percentage and 278 stolen bases. He also has had three seasons of 50 or more doubles.
If he is able to stay healthy, adding Roberts to the revamped and improved lineup that consists of new catcher Brian McCann, new center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, new outfielder Carlos Beltran, along with the returns of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez will truly mitigate the loss of Cano.
There’s truly no way of replacing the best second baseman in the game but the Yankees are trying to get what they can in the limited market for second basemen. They have gone out and signed the best free agents on the market, except for Cano, and have gone out and sign the best second baseman’s they can, after Cano.
The much improved lineup, albeit without their best player, will have no place to go but up as the Bronx Bombers struggled to be anything, let alone bombers. Is Roberts Cano? No, but Roberts, McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran are a good way to replace his production.