The Orioles called up Manny Machado (a well-known name here in Baltimore), the #3 rated prospect in baseball, for Thursday’s game versus the Royals. But was the move in relation to his personal performance or a drastic measure by a desperate team. There is a list of reasons why Machado will be in Camden Yards this season, none of them relate to his bat or glove.
For a team in the pennant and wild card race in August, the fans simply still do not show up to the ballpark. There is a bevy of green seats every time you turn on the game; which is a testament of this fan-base’s trust of the organization as a whole. The Oriole faithful have been burned plenty in the past decade and a half; whether it was the Albert Belle “appearance” in the outfield, Miguel Tejada and Sammy Sosa’s post steroid stint in Baltimore or the return of Rafael Palmeiro (B12 and all).
Steve Johnson’s performance on Wednesday night (in his first career start, the same day that his father won his first game with the Orioles), will do little to excite fans that are waiting for a spiral down back to reality. For a team with such a terrible run differential, poor starting pitching and a make shift infield, it is improbable to think they can remain in the hunt. But the Orioles have gotten this far with basically the same roster as opening day.
Yet, the stands remain empty, but the powers that be hope this move will change the perspective at Camden Yards. Machado’s presence will put butts in the seats because he represents the future and it doesn’t hurt everyone witnessed 20 year old phenom, Mike Trout, here in Baltimore (and reminded of it weekly with his home run robbing catch of J.J. Hardy displayed on ESPN). Trout has proven that a kid Machado’s age can propel a team into the next level; a level that would involve the playoffs for these Orioles.
As ticket sales rise, so will the Machado merchandise in the greater part of Maryland. Expect his jersey sales to lead the team for the next couple months, while the team taking full advantage of his personal brand. You won’t be able to walk down the street without seeing a person in a T-shirt brandishing his name or likeness. And that’s all well and good for Peter Angelos but does it really benefit the team or the player to rush him to the bigs for matters involving finance.
Machado’s numbers are not staggering; he is not lighting up the minors the same way Trout and Harper were earlier this season. His numbers are respectable for a player his age (.266, 11 HR, 56 RBI), but is nothing to claim “He cannot learn anything else in the minors; he needs to see big league pitching.” And his bat is what he is known for; he has struggled for most of the season at short stop. Now the team plans to move him to third base, where he has no experience at all. This stint in the majors could be detrimental to his psyche, if he does not live up to his lofty expectations.
So please tell me, exactly what’s the rush?