Monday, June 9, 2014

What's Going on With Manny Machado

I touched upon this on my Twitter feed yesterday and spoke to a couple of customers about it after watching the replay of Manny Machado's actions during the A's/Orioles game in Baltimore yesterday afternoon. Here is what I posted:

Add to these remarks, the two backswings that hit A's catcher Derek Norris on the head. The second of which caused Norris to be removed from the game and be examined for a potential concussion. To further add insult to injury, it would seem from the replay that Machado was smiling while Norris was being attended to and Machado never once asked if Norris was fine as per the unwritten rules of Baseball.

Machado burst upon the scene in 2012 as an outstanding 19-year old rookie and followed that up with a 2013 campaign that saw him hit a league best 51 doubles, 14 homeruns and 71 RBI. His slash line was .283/.314/.432 for a OPS of .746. His bat was complimented with outstanding defense that earned him the 2013 American League Gold Glove at third base on top of an All-Star appearance and a top ten finish in AL Most Valuable League voting.

His 2013 season came to an abrupt end when on September 23 Machado tore a ligament in his left knee which required surgery and rehab that kept him out until May 1, 2014. Something has seemed to change within Machado. Gone is his smile. That youthful exuberance that he seemed to show has been replaced with what seems like bitterness and frustration. Granted I haven't watched too many Orioles' games but the few I have seen it seems as if Machado is not the same player that we saw take the league by storm in 2013. Which takes me to Friday night.

His lashing out at Josh Donaldson on what looked like a simple tag out at third base on Friday night took me aback. I can see if Donaldson made the play blocking the bag or applying a strong tag to Machado's surgically repaired knee. But Donaldson applied a tag to Machado's chest. Machado feel back and it seemed as if he was favoring his left leg in the way he fell. Which is understandable. But the outburst looked to me as if he was lashing his frustrations out on Donaldson. Even the look on the third baseman umpire's face showed a mix of amusement and surprise at how Machado exploded. Not surprising coming from a team managed by Buck Showalter, Donaldson was thrown at and plunked by Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. Surely this wasn't the end to this situation.

Jump to Sunday and we find the two swingbacks by Machado, the removal of Norris from the game, the smile by Machado and his at-bat against Oakland A's reliever Fernando Abad produced this:

Machado insists that it was an accident. This just looks bad not only on Machado but on the game. I'm not saying that he shouldn't show emotion. He's human. But he needs to show better judgment. What if he angles that bat throw differently and it lands in the dugout or the stands next to third base rather than down the line near the umpire. What if the bat struck the umpire, Alberto Callaspo of the A's, the third base coach or even worse a fan. I realize that Machado isn't even 22-years old yet but Buck Showalter needs to pull him aside and let Machado know that that kind of behavior is not what he should be exhibiting.

I know this season has been a big disappointment for Machado. His performance paled in comparison to 2013 and other nagging injuries have caused him to not play at the level that he is probably used to. I'm sure that MLB will levy a hefty penalty in terms of a fine and suspension. They should. Having bats thrown in anger is a recipe for disaster. Maybe the time on suspension will help Machado cool off and recompose himself. To take some pressure off of himself before he explodes again and hurts someone if not himself.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to Access Manny Machado's career statistics from Baseball