Maybe it was The Common Man's imagination, but he seems to have seen a whole mess of people getting bent out of shape over Manny Machado's promotion to the Majors. And while TCM understands the impulse to A) protect youngsters and B) criticize the Orioles, maybe we don't have to be jumping to down Dan Duquette's throat about this one.
For one thing, Machado's an elite prospect who has held his own at 19 in AA Bowie, hitting .266/.352/.438. While his strikeouts are a little high (70 in 459 plate appearances), he shown good patience and decent power, especially for his age. Plus, Machado has been playing professionally for the last two years now, so it's not like he's fresh out of school. Finally, his name is awesome.
None of that necessarily means he's ready. In fact, chances are he has some growing pains ahead of him as he adjusts to Major League pitching. But what do the Orioles really lose by calling him up now?
Baltimore is flagging in the standings in the AL East, but still has an outside chance at that and one of the two Wild Cards. And they have a major liability on both offense and defense in Mark Reynolds, and Chris Davis has hit just .220/.290/.374 since the All Star break. Machado at least gives them an option at 3B (and a competent backup at SS) to allow the O's to sit either Davis or Reynolds. Yes, the chances of Machado being more than a game improvement over the combination of Davis and Reynolds is unlikely, but for a team that has been competitive for the first time since 1997, it's understandable that they would go all out to try to win in a wide open race for the postseason.
It's not like Machado's losing a lot of development time here either. There's just one month left in the minor league season, and Machado stands to see plenty of action at the big league level. There's some concern that promoting him early might mess with his confidence if he crashes and burns, but it's hard to believe that an elite prospect like this couldn't overcome a small hiccup in his otherwise unbroken path to the Bigs. Heck, failing may actually help him in the long run, as Bryce Harper's current struggles might help him to learn to deal with the ups and downs of a professional baseball career. And to focus on the possibility that Machado might lose confidence ignores the chance that playing well in the Majors helps his confidence.
Finally, there's the service time argument. Perhaps by bringing Machado up now and starting his service clock, the Orioles will lose prime years of Machado's career. That's certainly a possibility if the Orioles are foolish. But there are any number of ways to manipulate the service time of a prospect so that the club doesn't wind up losing those years. Or he could make the Orioles out of Spring Training next year, and make the whole argument moot. Or, given the way teams are locking up their young stars these days, there's every reason to believe the O's will give Machado a long term deal if he proves to be effective that will buy out more of those prime seasons. So chill out about the service time.
Ultimately, this is a move that's about trying to catch lightning in a bottle and take advantage of Machado's upside. There's a very good chance that, no matter what Machado does, it won't matter in the final standings. But there's also very little risk to letting him try. And it certainly makes the Orioles a hell of a lot more interesting.
So in that spirit, Machado gets our award for
Debut of the Night: Manny Machado, 2-4, 3B, 1 R
Pitcher of the Night: RA Dickey, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 10 K, 1 R
The world is a better place when R.A. Dickey's on a pitching mound. Dickey has now struck out more than 10 batters six times this season, tied with Yu Darvish for the most of those performances this year. He's seen his strikeout rate jump from 15.0% the last two seasons to 27.4% this year. Has there ever been precedent for that kind of a jump? Mike Scott is the only other guy The Common Man can think of, and actually that might be a really good comp given how much of Scott's success was a result of his "forkball" (and his scuffing of said forkball). But, of course, that jump happened for Scott when he was 31. Dickey is 37. Amazing.
Hitter of the Night: Jason Kubel, 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI
Boy does Jason Kubel like the desert. He's going to set a career high in homers before the month ends, and will probably eclipse his career marks in walks and RBI before the season's said and done too. A lot of this is because of how well the ball carries in Arizona though. Kubel is hitting .319/.398/.691 at Chase Field but just .242/.305/.421 on the road. Still, he's been a terrific acquisition and good for the D-backs for finding the right guy at the right time for the right park.
Mets: Andres Torres, 3-3, HR, 3B, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB
Well, that's disappointing. Torres gets all the hard parts of a cycle, but no single. But a walk's just as good as a hit, right? Right? TOrres has had a deceptively effective half season so far, walking 41 times in 286 plate appearances to give him a .356 OBP to go with his .242 batting average.
Royals: Billy Butler, 3-5, HR, 3B, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI
Must have been that kind of day, cuz Country Breakfast did the same thing as Torres, coming up just a single short of the cycle. He's having the best season of his career, has already set a career high in homers (although his doubles are way way down). Look, TCM is just throwing this out there, but if you squint does Billy Butler look a little bit like Edgar Martinez?
Yankees: Eric Chavez, 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI
Since Alex Rodriguez went down, Chavez has been starting at 3B against righties and has hit .389/.436/.778. Marc Craig quotes Chavez as saying "I'll go until I break if I have to," which is, depending on how quickly A-Rod gets back, a statement he might have to live up to given his history.
Rays: Matt Moore, 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 R
In his last three starts, Moore has allowed just a single run in 17.2 innings with 18 strikeouts. This is what we've been waiting for.
Cardinals: Adam wainwright, 7 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 R
You know what? If you just looked at his rate stats, you'd never suspect that Wainwright is coming off of Tommy John surgery. He's walking fewer and striking out more batters than he did in his Cy Young runner up campaign in 2010. Just bad luck for Wainwright, who looks like a great candidate to bounce back next year.
Diamondbacks: Chris Young, 0-4, 1 K
When he went on the DL on April 18, Chris Young was hitting .410/.500/.897 with 5 homers. Obviously, that's not sustainable, but he looked like he was shaping up to come into his own for a really strong season. Since coming back on May 28, he's hit .170/.262/.320 with 6 homers while striking out in almost a quarter of his plate appearances (55 in 225). He's hitting .209/.303/.414 on the year and you have to wonder whether he's still hurt or he needs to be sat against righties in favor of Gerardo Parra, given that he's hitting just .180/.281/.393 off of them.
Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez, 6 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 3 R
Jimenez hasn't looked this good in more than a year, and he still gave up 3 runs. There's no way to sugarcoat it; that trade has been an unmitigated disaster. In going to an easier run prevention environment, Jimenez has seen his ERA jump to 5.20 in what's essentially been a full season in Cleveland, and has seen his walk and homer rates rise while his strikeout rate has fallen. The Indians probably should have known they were getting damaged goods. Last night's start notwithstanding, Jimenez leads the AL in losses, walks and wild pitches. And the Indians pretty much have to pick up his (~$6 million) option this year, don't they?
Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen, 4.2 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 7 R
This may have been the worst start of Chen's young Major League career (although his May 20 start against the Nats is also a contender), but he's still be a terrific find for the pitching-poor O's. We gave Baltimore and Dan Duquette a bunch of grief about his shenanigans in South Korea, but looking at what he managed to get from Taiwan, maybe we are too quick to write off his talents just because he was out of the game for so long.
Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 11 K, 0 R
The Common Man is just going to throw this out there: Game 1 of a playoff series, don't you start Jordan Zimmermann (NL leader in ERA+) over Strasburg? Ok, probably not. But TCM's thinking about it.
Nationals: Mike Morse, 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Morse has been clubbing the ball since he came off the DL in June, although walking 8 times in 265 plate appearances is a huge red flag. Since he came back, the Nats are 40-22.
Cubs: Alfonso Soriano, 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
Man, Soriano is living up to Theo and Jed's wildest dreams at this point, except that nobody wants to take him on (understandably so, given his contract). Where is the line, do you think, that Theo won't cross to get rid of Soriano? The Common Man thinks he won't sell his children to a circus to move Soriano, at least not without getting assurances they won't be raised as carnies. That's the line.