Brian Roberts primed for bounce-back 

February, 7, 2011
2/07/11
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From a team aspect, I like the Vladimir Guerrero signing for the Baltimore Orioles. While he doesn't bring much upside at his age and level of mobility, and I seriously doubt he'll match his 2010 performance, as colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft noted over the weekend, his addition is an upgrade for the team. Let's just say I wasn't all that excited about the projected Felix Pie-Nolan Reimold platoon in left field. I doubt opposing pitchers were scared as well.

The Orioles continue to remake one of baseball's lousiest lineups, and Guerrero's presence and ability to smack southpaw pitching shouldn't hurt. They've made major offseason news by adding other names to their regurgitated Baltimore infield as well. Derrek Lee might not be capable of 25 home runs and 100 RBIs anymore -- he has accomplished these numbers just once since 2005 -- but I can see him coming close, being helpful for fantasy owners. Mark Reynolds was a top-10 fantasy option in 2009, and I wouldn't call him done at age 27, especially if he can hit .240 (baby steps, folks). And shortstop J.J. Hardy, for all the warts of the past two seasons, did hit 50 home runs combined in 2007 and 2008. He's certainly a 20-homer threat.

[+] EnlargeBrian Roberts
G Fiume/Getty ImagesBrian Roberts finished 43rd overall on the ESPN Player Rater in 2009.
Then there's the only returning infield batsman, the once-coveted Brian Roberts. If the Orioles are going to feature a half-decent offense this season, then it's going to be all about the team's leadoff hitter and second baseman. Roberts was a clear top-five second baseman in 2009, and despite concerns about him missing the first month last season because of back problems he still wound up fifth at his position in ESPN average live drafts, and 41st overall. By now you know that Roberts missed far more than a month; he played in a mere 59 games and didn't hit for power when he did return, as other lingering injuries likely affected his performance. Hey, I'm just happy he played at all. For awhile there, it was presumed one of the worst teams in baseball would simply shelve this critical player until 2011.

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