The Orioles called up Manny Machado. Was it a good move? Is Bundy next?
Tied for the wild card, the Baltimore Orioles called up elite prospect Manny Machado. We recently ranked him as 4th best prospect in the minors, but is he ready? In the coming weeks if they are still in the race do they call up Bundy?
Jeff Reese: It was startling to read when I woke up this morning, but I guess I can see the thought process behind the decision. Machado likely will not have the immediate impact that Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, or even Starling Marte have had; however, he should be able to hold down short stop offensively and defensively. Whether he’s an upgrade – right now – from JJ Hardy or not is something the O’s probably felt they should explore as they enter mid August.
Dylan Bundy could definitely help the team if they need him. It seems absurd to think that a HS pitcher in his first professional season could see major league time, but it’s a feasible scenario.
David Wiers: As a whole, MLB shortstops are only hitting .255/.309/.372 on the year. The Orioles shortstops have been even worse, combining to tally a mere 229/.275/.385 triple slash. I think Machado is easily capable of beating not only the team average, but also the league. With his strong minor league walk rate and above average power (with 42 of 107 hits going for extra-bases) Machado should be able to produce a line above the major league average. It’s now late enough in the season that the O’s don’t have to worry about losing an extra year of cost control either. I’m all for this move.
Steve Kuperman: Is Machado ready? Probably not in the sense that he can find sustained success against major league pitching at this stage in his career. But Machado is certainly talented enough to have a good run while pitchers are learning how to attack him at the plate, and he’s been drawing rave reviews in Double A for his ability to have quality at bats, a skill which should give him a chance to learn from this experience regardless of short-term statistical success. Word is that the Orioles have been preparing him to play third base for the rest of this year in anticipation of this promotion, and he should be an immediate contributor on defense if nothing else. My personal prediction is that he doesn’t do much other than an isolated hot streak somewhere along the way in 2012, but learns a lot in the process. That’s an acceptable outcome in my eyes.
As for Dylan Bundy, I firmly believe we’ll be seeing him in MLB in September whether the team is in the playoff race or not. He’s already on the 40 man roster, which removes the biggest potential obstacle to a promotion. The only question left in my mind is whether we’ll be seeing Bundy as an active member of the bullpen with perhaps a start or two thrown in, or as an innings-capped guy mainly with the team to get mentally acclimated to MLB life while getting a couple of innings of mop-up work. I’m betting on the second, but if the O’s are still competitive in the playoff race, it’s safe to say that all bets will be off.
Steve Fiorindo: I think I agree with Kupe, I wouldn’t expect too much offensively from Machado these final months, but he could have a defensive impact in that lineup. I think Mike Trout has kind of killed any expectations we set for rookies upon promotion, as we will here, “can this guy have a Mike Trout type of impact?” Let’s avoid that, Trout is a special case, a special player.
I think the promotion is a bit premature, I think Machado could use more seasoning, throwing him into a pennant/playoff race may not be the best thing developmentally for him, but that’s not my call. I could see Bundy getting the call soon too, maybe some low leverage innings at first to get his feet wet, and then gradually stepping up his role to where he could possibly have an impact if things break right for Baltimore and they make the playoffs.
Mike Schmidt: I’ve read that the Orioles COULD employ Bundy in a way that’s similar to how the Rays used David Price in 2008. However, I was quick to brush that off given the key differences between Bundy now and Price in 2008. Price turned 23 late that year and was a college pitcher. Bundy doesn’t turn 20 until November and came out of high school. I recognize that Bundy is polished for his age, but I really wonder if he’s ready for prime time (even out of the bullpen).
Conor Dowley: I’m really not sure what we can expect on Machado for this year. He’s been pushed so far so fast that he’s never really had a chance to impress other than purely displaying his tools. While those physical gifts are very significant, it’s really hard to say whether or not he’s ready to step right in to a playoff race right now. Frankly, I’d lean toward answering that particular question with a “no”.
I’m not saying that he’s got a poor mindset or he’s not mature or anything remotely like that. What I am putting forward is that it is a MASSIVE jump to go from being a 20-year-old in AA to stepping in to the lineup of a team pushing for a long-missed playoff spot. This is going to be a much bigger test for Machado than most people give it credit for.
That said, it shouldn’t be hard for him to out-perform the Orioles’ other options at either shortstop or third base. They’ve gotten virtually nothing offensively from either position, and he’s a capable enough defender to prevent any significant dropoff at short, and it probably an upgrade over what they’ve gotten defensively at third.
Should Machado find success in this stint, the people who love to make Alex Rodriguez comparisons will only get louder; the Mariners made a similar gamble with Rodriguez in 1995 and it certainly paid off handsomely there.
As for Bundy, it wouldn’t shock me if the Orioles got aggressive and brought him up for a late-inning bullpen role at some point down the stretch. I’m even less sure of that being a good idea than with Machado, but one thing is certain: if they do call him up, Bundy will add a huge burst of energy and determination to their ‘pen. I don’t see him backing down from that challenge in any way.
Michael Schwartze: Calling up Machado was certainly a bold, aggressive move but when you are first in the wild card and haven’t made the playoffs since 1997, sometimes you need to make an aggressive move. Machado could have used more time in the minors and while I don’t think we’ll see Machado post big time numbers, he’ll defiantly be a defensive upgrade over Wilson Betemit at third (If that is where they play him) and possibly at the plate as well.
The Dylan Bundy idea is certainly interesting. Like Steve mentioned above, it would be best to start working Bundy in low leverage situations first and then begin to give him looks in higher pressure spots. If they do in fact call him up, Bundy could be an exciting power arm in the back of the pen. I would not be surprised to see them make them make an aggressive move with him though after what they’ve done with Machado.