LADY AT THE BAT: The Shaky Defense Of Brian Roberts

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Shaky Defense Of Brian Roberts

When Robinson Cano moved on from the New York Yankees during the 2013 offseason, it was clear the Yankees were going to miss his offense. He was the best player on the 2013 team and was the best second baseman in the league. No matter who Brian Cashman brought into the position, no one had any illusions that the person would replace Cano’s offense.

In the first month and a half of the season, however, the thing that might be missed the most is Cano’s glove. Cano had a rare combination of agility, range and arm strength that made spectacular plays look almost routine for him. He was not only a joy to watch in the field, he was a source of comfort. On an infield with some age on it (to put it kindly), Cano covered more ground than was expected and made his fellow infielders look good while doing it.

The same cannot be said for Brian Roberts, his 2014 replacement at second base. While Roberts’s offense is coming around lately, his glove has been somewhat questionable, especially when it comes to double play balls.

In the first inning of the 2nd game of yesterday's doubleheader against the Pirates, Roberts made an error when he was unable to field a throw from Yangervis Solarte during the first half of a double play. All runners were safe and Vidal Nuno, rather than being out of the inning, was forced to throw more pitches and eventually gave up the first run of the game.

It wasn’t the best throw from Solarte and Starling Marte was bearing down on 2nd base, but there’s no question, at least in my mind, that Robinson Cano makes that play. Even if he opts not to throw to 1st base to get the lumbering Jose Tabata, he would have made sure he got the out at 2nd base.

Roberts only has four errors on the season, not a dreadful amount, but watching him in the field each game, there always seems to be a play you're not quite sure he's going to make and, even if he does, it seems to be more difficult for him than it should. Which is not to say he hasn’t flashed the leather on occasion, because he has, but there’s a lower comfort level at 2B than existed in past. Not an Eduardo Nunez level of discomfort, but still a cause for concern.

Maybe it’s playing with a new infield after so many seasons in Baltimore, or maybe it’s all the shifting the Yankees are employing this season, but Roberts looks very shaky in the field.

His error didn’t really cost the Yankees the game, but with so much uncertainly in the rotation and so many untested pitchers filling it out, the Yankees need dependable fielders behind them. Roberts needs to start showing that he can be just that.

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