A second look at second base

I won't make any promises, but we could find out today whether Andy MacPhail is staying in the organization and being given a different set of responsibilities.

I've been led to believe that the first announcement would clear up MacPhail's status and the next one would reveal his replacement - whether that's Buck Showalter or someone else. But it's possible that the delay has something to do with combining both pieces of news and eliminating the ongoing speculation.

I just want to get it over with, but I've got my own interests here.

Here's something that I know for sure: Brian Roberts won't play winter ball.

Your first reaction might be "no kidding," but I still floated the idea past a team official last week after a few readers did the same with me.

The subject has been discussed within the organization, but it didn't get far. Roberts would most likely resist, and he probably wouldn't receive medical clearance.

It's not an outrageous idea. Roberts has played in 59 and 39 games the past two seasons. He hasn't faced live pitching since May 16. The Orioles would feel better about his availability in 2012 if he made it through a series of games in December without being shut down again.

I heard that Roberts had another setback recently while working out in Sarasota. The headaches haven't completely subsided. Most of his days are good ones, but he's not out of the woods.

He's not out of the Orioles' plans for next season, but they aren't penciling his name atop the order. He'll have a lot to prove in spring training, and he'll have some sort of competition for the starting job at second base.

I was told a while back that they'd look outside the organization for a potential replacement. Robert Andino is a viable option if Roberts can't play, but manager Showalter values his ability to move around the infield.

I sense that the Orioles would prefer using Andino in a utility role.

Let's take another look at that list of free-agent second basemen, courtesy of mlbtraderumors:

Clint Barmes (33)
Willie Bloomquist (34) - $1.1 mil mutual option with a $150K buyout
Orlando Cabrera (37)
Robinson Cano (29) - $14 mil club option with a $2 mil buyout
Jamey Carroll (37)
Alex Cora (36)
Craig Counsell (41)
Mark Ellis (35)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)
Bill Hall (32) - $4 mil mutual option with a $250K buyout
Aaron Hill (30) - $8 mil club option for 2012 and $8 mil club option for '13
Kelly Johnson (30)
Adam Kennedy (36)
Felipe Lopez (32)
Jose Lopez (28)
Aaron Miles (35)
Brandon Phillips (31) - $12 mil club option with a $1 mil buyout

As I've said before, keep Hill in mind if he's available.

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