This off-season the Bronx Bombers lost their franchise second baseman, Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners. Cano chose a 10-year deal worth $240 million dollars over the team with the most World Series titles. He also left a huge void to fill at second base for the Yankees. Instead of using all their money to persuade Cano to stay, the Yankees spread their wealth to multiple positions for upgrades. One of those players though who was not noticed as a top off-season addition, may not be an upgrade, but can surely help the Yankees return to playoff success.
For $238 million dollars and nine years less than Robinson Cano, the Yankees signed the 36-year-old veteran Brian Roberts. Roberts played in 77 games last year for the Baltimore Orioles, the most games he has played in since 2009 when he played in 159 games. Roberts is a 2-time All-Star who has had trouble staying on the field due to injury. Since 2010, Roberts has played in a total of 192 games. There are 162 games in one MLB season. However, when Roberts is healthy, he has shown he can be an All-Star caliber second baseman.
When asked about replacing Cano, Roberts said, “Robbie is such a special player, I’m not going to go in and be Robbie”. They are two completely different players. Cano is a power-hitting second baseman with a strong arm while Roberts is a scrappy, switch-hitting lead-off hitter with a very dependable glove. The big question Yankees fans are asking is how much does Roberts have left in the tank? If he can stay healthy, the Yankees could have found lightning in a bottle with Roberts.
A seasoned veteran like Roberts has been a part of some interesting historical moments in baseball. In 2001, Roberts was a rookie when Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. said goodbye. On September 21, 2008, Roberts grounded into the final out in the history of Old Yankee Stadium. In 2009, Roberts was the second baseman for the US national team who reached the semifinals of the second World Baseball Classic. And now, Roberts gets to play alongside one of the greatest shortstops to play the game in Derek Jeter during his farewell season.
Roberts leads the way for the Yankees at second base. New York also has Kelly Johnson, an inexperienced Eduardo Nunez who has started a total of 11 career games at second, and Brendan Ryan who will mainly be a back-up shortstop. Joe Girardi stated last week about Roberts, “I know he hasn’t played a full season in the last few years, he’s obviously a guy who has some age on him too, but my plan is to run him out there every day.” Roberts already brings a veteran presence to the clubhouse, but can he supply solid play at second base day in and day out too?