22 August 2014

Machado to Have Season-Ending Knee Surgery

When Manny Machado injured his knee last week, the immediate question for the Orioles was how they would cope without their star third baseman for a few weeks. Now, it appears they will be without Machado for much longer than that.

Earlier today, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported that Machado would have season-ending surgery on his right knee. His report was confirmed by multiple sources. So obviously that's awful news for both Machado and the Orioles, who are currently 20 games above .500 and have a comfortable 8-game lead in the American League East. Those wins are already in the books, which is great.

Looking for another potentially positive angle? Here's more from Brown:
That "small abnormality" was also discovered in Machado's left knee. So maybe, just maybe, Machado will be done dealing with serious knee injuries. Still, the 22-year-old Machado will now be forced to overcome his second season-ending knee injury in as many years.

Losing Machado for the rest of the season probably won't be a huge hindrance when it comes to the O's making the playoffs. They have jumped out to a sizable lead, and they'd have to totally collapse to blow it at this point. FanGraphs' playoff odds have the O's chances of earning a playoff berth at 96%, and Baseball Prospectus has the O's at 98.2%. That may not be completely reassuring for fans until the Orioles officially lock up a spot -- no lead is insurmountable, etc. -- but it's tough to be pessimistic about what the Orioles have been able to do so far.

So what will the O's do without Machado? Likely what they've been doing the past week-plus. Chris Davis has seen the majority of work at third with Machado out, with a resurgent Steve Pearce mostly manning first base. Ryan Flaherty can also fill in at third, as can Cord Phelps. Pearce playing frequently at first base will mean more Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young in left field, which is unfortunate.

When rosters expand in September, the O's could bring up Steve Lombardozzi, Jimmy Paredes, and/or Jemile Weeks, but none of those moves would help much. Perhaps the O's would also consider promoting 23-year-old Christian Walker as a bench bat and occasional starter at first base, though that probably isn't the answer either. And then, as Roch Kubatko suggests, the Orioles could always decide to "intensify their efforts to acquire an infielder who's passed through waivers." But that may be a long shot.

There likely isn't a way for the O's to fill the void of Machado's absence. Before he got hurt, his bat was heating up, and he's one of the best defensive players in all of baseball. Considering much of the Orioles' success is due to their defense, playing without Machado will be challenging.

But it's not like everything has broken right for the Orioles in 2014. They've been playing without Matt Wieters since May. They started the season without Machado, who predictably got off to a slow start before heating up. Ubaldo Jimenez, recently banished to the bullpen, has been a disappointment. And Davis, who is batting .192/.294/.392, has been terrible after dominating the league last season.

If you want to write the Orioles off, that's certainly your right. But you'd be wrong to do so.

 Photo via Keith Allison


Anonymous said...

My concern is a long-term one: Does that mean that Machado might be trending toward DH as opposed to SS?

Erik said...

Well, it might mean he stays at third base and we re-sign Hardy.

Anonymous said...

Re-signing Hardy is fine... but can the team rely on Machado playing 3B at all if his knees are that fragile?

Matt Kremnitzer said...

At the very least, it may be wise to invest in a backup third baseman who is better than Ryan Flaherty.

Dustin said...

Didn't everyone from Texas clear waivers? I wonder what the Orioles cost would be to acquire Beltre for the next 1.25 seasons or so? Seems like, if you're going to try to replace the best defensive 3B in the game, then the best 3B of the last decade may be a really good get.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Beltre is a fantastic player. But the O's have made no indication that they plan on moving Machado to shortstop after this season. They may also be hesitant to move him off third now because of the issues with his knees.

Beltre also wouldn't come cheap.

Dustin said...

Beltre wouldn't come cheap, but he seems like the exact kind of player that a team in the Orioles situation (win now, key player goes down) should be interested in.

I don't want to go too crazy in saying that Beltre is THE answer or anything, it just seems like a tailor-made solution for Baltimore, here. Beltre's very productive defensively and with the bat, and, while 37 years old, only comes with a 1.25 year commitment.

It, to me, seems like a situation where you roll the dice and feel confident giving up a strong prospect.

Dustin said...

And Matt, to your point about the O's not indicating that they're interested in moving Machado to short, I completely agree, and think that Machado is on a path towards a career at 3B at this point... Although I do think that bringing in Beltre would open up options with regards to next year. Having too multiple excellent 3Bs (not to mention the possibility of Hardy coming back) is probably a really good problem to have.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Assuming Machado's 100 percent healthy, I'm not sure I agree. Beltre and Machado are both excellent defensive third basemen. It would be a waste of resources for one of them to be used as a designated hitter, which is what would have to happen if Beltre were to be acquired and Machado didn't move to shortstop. That's one of the reasons the move probably won't happen, along with the price of acquiring Beltre in the first place.