Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ripken Is 8 Returns, Bearing Manny Machados

So yes, as I said on the Twitter feed thing, this blog is coming back. Temporarily it'll be here on Blogger, but within the next month or so it'll be moved to something with an actual domain and a slightly less...Blogger-y feel.

The main reason it's coming back is because it needs to come back; because if I just do six thousand word Think Pieces every two months I'll never get to where I want to be in my craft and in the industry. And honestly, I can barely stand to read those fucking things more than a month after I've written them anyway, so "disposable" is probably a good place to start.

Oh, yes: while I'll try to curb it as much as possible, I'll be using bad language here. You're shocked, I'm sure.

The big news tonight in Birdland was that, oh, three hours ago now I'd say, the entire Baltimore sports-media all went berserk when the Orioles called up the #2 prospect in the system (and #2-5 prospect in all of baseball depending on who precisely you ask) Manny Machado. I won't bore you with his minor league stats because you can find them all right here, but the upshot is that Machado is 19 years old, putting up very respectable if not amazing numbers as a shortstop in AA while continuing to develop into the professional game and that's pretty much all that people wanted or expected from him this year.

Until the Baltimore Orioles were so bad, just so utterly pathetic, at playing third base defense that Dan Duquette felt the need to pull the trigger and jump him to the bigs, skipping AAA entirely. This isn't unheard of and it's not even really a bad thing, in and of itself; AAA isn't really where you want big time, ticketed-for-stardom guys playing anyway unless they're blocked or there's something else going on with them. This is in fact not so wildly different than what the Texas Rangers did with Elvis Andrus a couple years ago, but with two key differences: Andrus went from AA to the pros, yes, but he didn't go up mid-season, and he certainly didn't go up to play a position he's not familiar with.

Because as noted above, Manny Machado is a shortstop, but he will be asked to play the majority of his time at third base. So he'll be jumping to a level of competition with significantly harder pitching and opposing baserunning, significantly higher expectations and public scrutiny (is he still trending on Twitter? I bet he is), and doing all of this while effectively playing out of position.

Machado will one day be a third baseman in Major League Baseball, but everyone was kinda-sorta hoping that day would come in 2018 or 2019, not 2013, and certainly not for the first real time in his career at the MLB level. Pretty much every other seemingly fringe or marginal move this front office has made this year seems to have either paid off huge or not hurt them much (even getting banned from South Korea!), so maybe asking a 19 year old super-prospect to juggle chairs in on a national stage isn't as ludicrous as it seems on its face; but one hopes if Machado stumbles a bit coming out of the gate the organization shows the wisdom to know when they've rushed a kid a bit too far a bit too fast and instead of doing what the Detroit Tigers do (allow him to fail repeatedly on the major league level and then trade him at his point of lowest value to Florida), send him back where he was for a bit more seasoning and learning. The Angels did this with Mike Trout last year and from all indications that seems to be working out pretty well for them.

Still, though -- going to be interesting tomorrow night, seeing him for the first time in action against Kansas City. Very interesting indeed.

(Yeah this post was supposed to be two paragraphs long. There's going to be a lot of that.)