Manny Machado is only 26 years old. Let it sink in for a moment…that’s young. Maybe that’s why it seems like only yesterday that Machado was being called up to the big leagues to play third base for the O’s.
For the first two-thirds of the 2012 season, former Oriole Wilson Betemit got the majority of the starts at third base. Then the team decided to promote Machado from Double-A Bowie, where he was hitting .266/.352/.438 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI in 402 at-bats.
At the time of his promotion, Machado only had two games (18 innings) worth of experience at the hot corner, which makes his seamless transition to the position at the major league level that much more impressive.
And don’t forget, Manny was only 20 years old at the time. The Orioles were 60-51 at the time, in second place in the AL East and four and a half games out of first place.
In his first major league start, against the Kansas City Royals, Machado hit ninth and went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored. He would go on to hit .262/.294/.445 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI in 191 at-bats while playing stellar defense at third base.
The Orioles finished the 2012 regular season with a record of 93-69, good for second place in the AL East and a wild card spot. They went on to defeat the Texas Rangers in a one game playoff to advance to the AL Division Series. But the wild ride ended there – with the New York Yankees winning that series in five games.
2012 was Baltimore’s first playoff berth since 1997 and it was the start of a new competitive era that would see the Orioles make the playoffs again in two out of the next four years, between 2013 and 2016.
But that era has now officially ended. And unfortunately, trading Manny Machado will not automatically solve all of the Orioles’ problems. The trouble runs deeper than that. So hearing from Dan Duquette last night offered some tantalizing promise of the team changing its ways. But right now it’s all talk. I don’t think you can fault fans for taking a ‘believe it when I see it’ approach in this regard.
Dan Duquette and the Orioles issued the following statement last night addressing the Manny Machado trade, courtesy of Jon Meoli via Twitter:
“Manny Machado provided the Orioles fans with many great memories over his eight years in Birdland. We will always appreciate his talent and we wish him the best in the National League.
As we begin the task of rebuilding our roster to compete in the AL East, we look forward to the contributions of the five players we added to the organization today.
Diaz is a young and gifted hitter, Valera and Bannon are versatile fielders with excellent on-base skills and Kremer and Pop’s excellent seasons are indicative of their bright futures.”
Duquette has talked about the importance of on-base percentage in the past, but he has failed to really address this deficiency with the big league club. This year, the Orioles are dead last in baseball with a .290 on-base percentage. In 2017, they were 27th with a .312 OBP, and in 2016 they were 21st with a .317 OBP. Hopefully, Yusniel Diaz signals a start towards addressing this problem in terms of prospect acquisition, considering his .428 OBP in Double-A this year.
Kremer and Pop’s excellent seasons so far this year involve an ability to strike batters out, a trait the Orioles could always use more of. Too often we see the club sign and bring along finesse, control pitchers who put the ball in play and, until the past few years, relied on a strong Orioles defense to bail them out. But with the ability to miss bats, a pitching staff has the chance to control their own destiny and become truly elite. These are the types of pitchers the team should be stocking the system with.
In addition to trading veterans, Dan Duquette said the Orioles' rebuild will include an investment in technology and analytics as well as the international markets.— Jon Meoli (@JonMeoli) July 19, 2018
If the Orioles can make inroads internationally, then that will be a truly grand change for the team. They are known for being one of the least active teams in the international market, instead opting to frequently trade away international bonus money for minor league players.
The irony is that the key player received in the Dodgers trade was signed out of Cuba. The Orioles can’t afford to be left behind while other teams are adding some of the best players in the game through international signings.
With the Manny Machado trade finally coming to fruition, the Orioles are openly talking about a rebuild. They are also addressing organizational shortcomings, allegedly. We may have to be patient to see results, but hopefully these are the much needed first steps in the right direction for this team.