What Impact Can Manny Machado Have On 2012 Orioles?
Each week, PressBox baseball writers weigh in on a different topic. After watching Manny Machado's sizzling debut series against the Royals, Stan "The Fan" Charles and Matt Palmer weigh in on what impact Machado can have on the Orioles in 2012.
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
The sudden and almost jarring decision to bring up 20-year-old shortstop prospect Manny Machado is one of the most intriguing and interesting decisions an Orioles front office has made in years. Literally, the last two that come to mind were the rapid ascent of catcher Matt Wieters in late May 2009 and the meteorically rapid rise of Nick Markakis to make the parent club out of spring training 2006.
Both Markakis, in 2003, and Wieters, in 2007, were first-round picks for the Orioles. When both of them were brought up, the club needed desperately for them to make it, hence both were promoted as quickly as possible, and both were tossed into the deep water, with an almost sink-or-swim attitude.
Although the saying "The rest is history" fits well, let's not kid ourselves and say that both of these two young and proven major leaguers didn't suffer growing pains.
More than likely, Machado, despite his amazing weekend versus the Royals, will probably have his share of struggles along the way. Struggles, I might add, could put him back in the minors during these last 4-5 weeks of minor league baseball, or to start the 2013 season.
But the fact that this move was not made out of desperation makes it fascinating. Although Machado is a bona fide run-producing prospect, the goal of the club here during the latter stages of this surprise playoff chase is twofold -- to shore up the hot-corner defense, which has hung around the team's neck like an albatross, while at the same time possibly feed Machado just enough big league experience so as to accelerate his salad days.
One other note -- isn't there an interesting change in team philosophy from former general manager Andy MacPhail to his successor, Dan Duquette? There was almost no regard given to Machado's major league service time being started this early. Last season, pitcher Zach Britton got to the majors, not out of spring training, but rather because of an injury Brian Matusz suffered two days into the 2011 regular season.
The notion that Britton's service time was a point of debate back then, given what we know now, seems almost laughable.
The Machado move, whether it works out positively in the short term, was an exciting option that the club couldn't ignore. The Orioles chose to see the Machado glass half full, rather than worry about all that could go wrong.
By Matt Palmer
It's easy to say and see that Manny Machado is an impact player. He's capable of so much. Driving in seven runs during four games against the Royals, while hitting three home runs during that period, is the kind of stuff that will raise expectations for a player immediately.
He looks like a sure thing after one series in Baltimore.
But, what happens after that? The Orioles, and fans, need to keep things in perspective. The Nationals aren't the best team in baseball because of Bryce Harper. He's one piece of a big puzzle, full of talented players and one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. The Nationals are better because of Bryce Harper, who also happens to be in a slump right now.
The Orioles, with Manny Machado, have the potential to score some more runs. He was brought up to be a big postseason piece, but the club has pitching issues that need answering. What happens when Machado goes through a slump similar to Harper's? It will happen. Even the best players struggle from time to time. Machado just set the bar so high and so early that expectations are now out of whack.
He's a guy with a high ceiling, who still batted .266 in Double-A Bowie. That can be expected in Baltimore, too. That's not throwing cold water on what happened this weekend. Nothing can. It was magical.
Machado showed that even when he's at his best, that doesn't mean the team would beat one of the worst teams in baseball. Baseball is a team sport, and the rest of the cavalry is on its way. The 2012 season is important. What happens later is even more important. When players such as Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, the team's 2011 and 2012 first-round draft picks, work their way to an Oriole uniform, perhaps that's when Machado's impact will really be felt.
Posted Aug. 15, 2012