There’ll never come a time when I won’t believe that the beginnings of this year’s problems with the Baltimore Orioles didn’t come when they caved to Manny Machado‘s demands to play shortstop. This occurred during the winter meetings last year; Machado basically told Buck Showalter and company that he didn’t want to guard the hot corner any longer. And for one reason or another, the Orioles acquiesced to his demand.
I said at the time that was misguided, and I stand by that. I’m not sure what went into the decision to allow Manny to choose his position or who had the final say, but that’s what happened. If that was a message to Manny that the Orioles wanted to play ball and keep him, it certainly didn’t work – although the way the season has played out had a role in that also.
Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Machado is…playing third base regularly. Uh, excuse me?! Los Angeles’ regular third baseman, Justin Turner, is out with an injury. So in essence Machado’s just temporarily filling the role. However manager Dave Roberts made it clear that Manny kind of jumped at the chance to help (quote courtesy of Andy McCullough, L.A. Times):
He was traded here to be a shortstop, and we understand that. But the conversation that I’ve had with Manny last night was easy, and one that I anticipated, where he wanted to do whatever it was to help the ballclub, and help us win. I know he sees himself as a shortstop, as do we. But in this time, where Justin’s on the DL, it makes a lot of sense to have him play third.
In my view, that hardly sounds like the Manny Machado who informed the Orioles that he wanted to play shortstop instead of third. Granted when your team’s in a bind you try to do what you can to fill in. But here’s the flip side; Tim Beckham was injured for much of the first half, and he’s who replaced Machado at third base. Was there ever talk of Machado filling in at third with the Orioles?
It’s possible that Buck Showalter never approached him about it. It’s also possible that if he didn’t approach him about it, that was done because Buck had given Manny his word about playing shortstop. However all of that is provided that you aren’t needed elsewhere.
I’m not suggesting that Machado lollygagged through his time in Baltimore, or that he treated the Orioles overall like they didn’t matter. I’m just saying that he seemed to have no problem making the switch in L.A. now that he’s there. But literally given the exact same circumstances, that didn’t happen in Baltimore – for one reason or the other.