Stare deep into the Evil Glowing Left Eye of Brian Roberts and know ye despair. Last Monday's entry aside, there has never really been an Orioles card that's given me the willies. But this...this is just plain spooky. I seem to remember a big to-do a few years ago about Brob (pronounced "brahb" - none of this "bee-rob" nonsense)'s orange-and-red contact lenses, which helped block the sun but left him looking like a creature in a zombie flick. But I'm not even sure he still wears them - at least I haven't heard anything about them for a while. Why would the folks in Topps' art department just be calling attention to them now? And if that was their intent, why give him one normal-looking eye and one freak eye?
Frankly, I'd rather reflect on these sort of Brian Roberts mysteries than endure another winter of will-they-won't-they trade rumors. Back in February, I was already mentally preparing myself to say goodbye to one of the most popular Orioles of the past decade. Instead, Andy MacPhail never was able to pry a satisfactory bunch of players from the grip of the Cubs (or any other team), and Brian never joined Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard in the category of ex-Orioles. If the trade buzz was a distraction to him, he never showed it. He just took the field every day and turned in the second-best season of his career, hitting .296 and reaching base at a .378 clip, swiping 40 bases, and breaking his own team record with 51 doubles. Roberts further entrenched himself as one of the all-time O's: he is now eleventh in runs scored (619) and hits (1095), sixth in doubles (262), tied for eighth in triples (32), third in steals (226), and tenth in extra-base hits (335).
Amidst these big numbers and my own observations, I'm even less keen to part with our second baseman than I was last offseason. I still haven't heard of any potential returns that wow me, and the presumed top suitor (those same Cubs) have an even less impressive stockpile of prospects than they did before. The Tejada trade left the O's with a gaping hole at shortstop, and the waiver wire and Norfolk provided an assembly line of pretenders that were nothing short of ghastly. I shudder to think of an Oriole infield that's completely empty up the middle. As for concerns that Brian, who will be 31 on Opening Day 2009, faces an imminent decline, most baseball minds agree that players with his specific skills (i.e. a walk-heavy batting approach and good speed) age particularly well. From what I've heard, Birds brass are reluctant to trade him and will only actively pursue a swap if their efforts to extend his contract come up empty.
I'm fairly certain that Brian is not a faithful reader of this tiny blog, but on the off chance that he sees this, here's one vote for "stay". I really believe the Orioles are on the right path, and it will surely take a few more years, but I think he'll do our rebuilding efforts more good by staying put than he would in Chicago or St. Louis or Cleveland...ghoulish eye or no ghoulish eye.