Sunday, August 26, 2012

Orioles 2012: Bottom of the 7th

Photo via Wikipedia

Manny Machado, the face of the Orioles' future, was promoted from Double-A Bowie to the Majors on August 9th.  There was much chatter as to whether or not the move had been made too soon but given the difficulty the Birds have had in maintaining a healthy infield, the immediate needs of the parent club took precedent.  To Machado's credit, he wasted little time in impressing.  In his second game, he hit two home runs to become the youngest Oriole ever to have a multiple home run game.  He has slowed down since.  His on-base percentage over his first 15 big league games is fairly pedestrian at .273 but his slugging percentage pops out: .556.

Machado, the #3 overall draft pick in 2010, has mostly been praised for his offensive skills on his way up the ladder but watching him, the part of his game that seems most Major League-ready is his fielding.  A shortstop by trade, he was switched to third for his big promotion and I'd say he's the most dynamic performer the franchise has had at the hot corner since Ripken hung 'em up. One can easily imagine Machado winning multiple Gold Gloves no matter where they put him on the field.

With the addition of Machado, the Baltimore line up finally seems to be settling after a tumultuous year.  Even the long-standing headache in left field has been resolved with the emergence of Nate McLouth.  A lot of the players who've emerged, at last, as dependable regulars have contracts which expire at the end of the season.  The team is currently tied for second in the wild card chase but whether they make the playoffs or not, the first winning season in ages looks like a safer bet all the time.  For the first time in many years, Baltimore might actually look like an appealing destination for free agents during the off-season.  I hope they'll hang on to Machado (obviously), McLouth and Omar Quintanilla at second.  But I'm betting they cut Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis loose.  The two have essentially created a first base/designated hitter platoon but given that those are two obvious spots for adding a top-shelf power hitter, I'm guessing neither man will be with the team in 2013.

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