Andino's departure not shocking, but sad for fans

Andino's departure not shocking, but sad for fans
November 21, 2012, 1:30 pm
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It wasn’t a surprise to hear that Robert Andino had been traded. It was just something lots of Orioles fans didn’t want to hear.

The sentimentalists will miss Andino. Many believe that his hit helped usher in a new, happier era of Orioles baseball. Andino’s swagger, his post-game Red Sox trash talking reverberated for months.

When Brian Roberts came back, Andino went to the bench without pouting. He knew that with a healthy Roberts, the Orioles were better.

Andino’s offense took a step back last season. After Roberts’ brief return, Andino was back in the lineup, but he was hurt right after the All-Star break.

He came back more quickly than most thought he would. While he was gone, the Orioles picked up another second baseman, Omar Quintanilla, and he hit well for a time.

But, Andino soon reclaimed his turf. Even though his defense was fine, his offense wasn’t. Ryan Flaherty got more playing time, and it was soon apparent the Orioles would look elsewhere.

Andino would probably not have been offered a contract by the Nov. 30 deadline, and the Orioles would get nothing in return.

In Trayvon Robinson, the Orioles get a player who’s younger and cheaper. With the departure of Endy Chavez, he’ll compete for an outfield spot minor league with Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes, Lew Ford and Jason Pridie.

Earlier this month, the Orioles picked up Alexi Casilla from Minnesota. The Twins didn’t want to pay Casilla more than the $1.38 million he earned last year. The Orioles didn’t want Andino at that price, either. (Andino made $1 million last season and was eligible for arbitration.)

Casilla’s defense is good, and gives the Orioles something that didn’t have in Andino: a basestealing threat.

The Orioles were last in baseball with 58 stolen bases.  Casilla stole 21 in 22 attempts, and in his career is a superb 71-for-80.

Casilla has no power and his on-base percentage is much lower than Andino’s. He walked just 16 times in 106 games, batted .241, and had a .282 on-base percentage.

Andino has a little more power than Casilla, but was thrown out trying to steal as often as he stole: five times. He struck out 100 times, but compared with Casilla, his OBP was nearly identical: .283.

The fans snickered when Andino’s movie reviews came on the scoreboard. I’m sure they were funny, but we couldn’t hear them in the press box.

He would also occasionally mangle the language. “I’m no future teller,” he said last spring.

Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter both spoke highly of Andino after Tuesday’s trade. “He helped turn the ballclub around,” Duquette said. Showalter spoke of how a player who was buried in Norfolk quickly showed him his talent in an organization that didn’t have much.

The manager spoke with pride about how he watched Andino grow as a player and man. “A tug on your heart,” Showalter said of Andino’s departure.

Roberts will get another full shot at the second base job. Casilla will be there and so will Flaherty, who will depart shortly for Dominican winter ball. Quintanilla may be non-tendered, but there may be another utility infielder on hand to compete, too.

It’s sad for many Orioles fans to say goodbye to a player who was so important symbolically. They’ll have to wait until Aug. 2 when Seattle visits to thank Andino.

I’m no future teller, but I think he’s going to be greeted very warmly.