Two very good questions and we’ll have to ask to see what answers we get to the second question.
Third base is not foreign to Machado. He has been taking some ground balls there about four days a week since he played two games there for Double-A Bowie on June 2-3. Minor league instructors like Bobby Dickerson and Brian Graham have worked with him and talked with him about the mechanics of playing at third. He doesn’t have much game action there, but he has plenty of pregame time at third and we’ll see how that pays off for him now.
A few people I’ve talked today in baseball have expressed this opinion: If you can play short, you can play third. I am quite certain it won’t be that easy or simple, but am also certain that Machado can handle it. It’s not like that has been a position of defensive strength for this club anyway. He certainly won’t be a downgrade from what we’ve seen and should be a solid upgrade.
One member of the organization today expressed that Machado might be more ready for the majors now on defense than offense. Fans that have yet to see him play may be surprised when they see how strong his arm is the first time he has to really cut a throw loose.
Some fans wrote to this blog this year wondering why Machado wasn’t dominating the Eastern League. But when you consider that he played most of the season there as a 19-year-old against older, more experienced pitchers, the Orioles seemed quite happy with his progress and his stats.
Machado has been dominant over the last nine games there, going 16-for-33. That is a .485 average and he had eight extra-base hits in those nine games with three doubles, three homers and two triples. That is a dominant nine-game performance. He is coming to the majors with a very hot bat.
Coaches in the O’s minors have remarked to me about his strong plate discipline this year and his ability to even take close pitches when he has two strikes on him.
Machado’s call-up has certainly created a buzz. I have seen more national reporters write about and talk about this call-up than I’d seen talk about the team generally in recent weeks, even as it stayed in the playoff race.
How will this move play within the clubhouse? Some vets could lose at-bats to Machado. They won’t be happy but it’s not about their happiness. It’s about the Orioles trying to make the playoffs and I would think Dan Duquette’s aggressive move here would be popular in most corners of that clubhouse.
By the way, by calling Machado up now and not in September, he would be eligible to be on an Orioles playoff roster, should they make it - another reason I am sure is not lost on O’s management in the timing of this move.
Finally, this move to me makes it more likely that Dylan Bundy gets a September call-up to Baltimore. Let’s see how he does at Double-A first, but if he has some innings remaining late in the year, I think it’s possible that he pitches them with the Orioles.
I would be surprised if Bundy came as a starter, but I could see him getting 10-20 innings in September out of the bullpen. Every time I have asked this year about Bundy in Baltimore in September, the possibility has never been dismissed.
I won’t say the odds of it are great, but I think they got better with the Machado call-up.