Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Valencia as a legit trade chip; Machado's hustle; baserunning pitchers; a special Anthem - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Valencia as a legit trade chip; Machado’s hustle; baserunning pitchers; a special Anthem

Danny Valencia was basically an afterthought this offseason despite having an exceptionally marketable skill: He clobbers left-handed pitching. Always has.

And now he might be the club’s third best trade chip, behind Manny Machado and potentially Zach Britton, when late July rolls around.

Valencia, 33, continues to bash lefties – on Wednesday, he hit his fifth homer in 81 at-bats against southpaws and entered the day with a career .310 average and .862 on-base-plus-slugging percentage versus them – but he is also batting .291 against right-handers this year.

A corner infielder/outfielder, he’s had to play a lot of third base this year – 36 starts there – while Tim Beckham was injured and has also started in right field and first base. And he’s been fine, certainly good enough to keep that bat in the lineup, which is what the Orioles are doing even with Beckham back.

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Valencia was signed to a $1.2 million, minor league deal in March out of the free-agent camp set up by the players’ union and then hit his way onto the Orioles’ Opening Day roster.

So, he’s cheap, versatile and, at the least, is a proven hitter against left-handers.

There’s not a team in baseball – especially in the National League – that couldn’t use a Valencia type. Consider that six legitimate postseason contenders, including the Washington Nationals and both teams in Los Angeles, are hitting under .235 as a team versus lefties.

And though Valencia won’t bring the same kind of haul as Machado and Britton (and maybe Brad Brach), he should get the Orioles a minor leaguer or two that potentially could help in the future. The key here is that a team doesn’t have to take on much money to acquire Valencia, unlike most of the Orioles’ other trade chips.

The Orioles throw so much against the wall in the offseason, and very little of it has stuck in 2018. Valencia has, though, and the Orioles would be smart to take advantage in July of that shot in the dark in March.

On Manny Machado and hustle

I get the mini-firestorm Tuesday concerning Manny Machado not running out a double-play in a key situation.

I get why fans booed him and why Orioles manager Buck Showalter met with Machado on Wednesday to share his discontent.

“Some people express frustration different ways. But it still is a really bad presentation and he knows that,” Showalter said about Machado. “The toughest thing about it is it’s a poor presentation of what he’s really about.”

Here’s my take: I don’t think Machado continually dogs it as some fans believe.

There are times when the guy plays exceptionally hard. We saw that in the third inning Wednesday when he scored from first on a single and an errant throw. That was the definition of a hustle play.

And I’ve been around Machado enough to know the guy wants to win – badly.

But Tuesday’s jog isn’t an isolated incident, either.

Sometimes, Machado just doesn’t run hard out of the box.

And that’s something I don’t get.

Hustle is one of the few things you can really control in sports. It’s something that should be a given, not an option. And dogging it down the line is obvious. No way to hide from it.

Machado is among the best all-around players I’ve ever covered. But no one should get a pass on effort simply because of the talent he or she possesses. I hope Showalter isn’t the only one that said something to him in the past 24 hours.

On Dylan Bundy and baserunning

Right-hander Dylan Bundy, who was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a left ankle sprain and will be replaced in the rotation Thursday by Jimmy Yacabonis, explained Wednesday that the injury happened when he was running to third base Saturday in Atlanta. He hit the bag with his right – outside – foot like was supposed to, but then his left foot rolled on the turn.

Bundy took full responsibility for the injury.

“I hadn’t run the bases since high school and that was seven years ago, so it’s my fault,” said Bundy, who added that he still likes interleague play and the opportunity to hit. “I need to go out there and prepare myself to (run bases) in case it happens, and I didn’t do that.”

I appreciate Bundy falling on the sword. He’s a stand-up guy and always takes responsibility for his performance, good or bad.

But I’ve often wondered why pitchers didn’t run the bases in the week or so before interleague play. They hit on the field in those days before playing in NL parks. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen them run bases in-season. Maybe it’s because the payoff isn’t worth the potential injury risk. But familiarity with anything is helpful if there is a chance you will have to do it in a key moment.

An anthem of significance

I’m not quite sure how it started, but for the past couple years I have been reviewing and grading the National Anthem performance on Twitter before most Orioles games. It’s just a shtick, and I’m not exactly qualified, except that I’ve seen it performed thousands of times in my career. And I know what I like. So, I write a little bit about the performance and give it a grade. Silly stuff that some Twitter followers seem to like.

Due to personal obligations, I’m going to miss Thursday’s anthem. But no matter what it sounds like, I’m giving it an A right now. Because the backstory is incredible.

The anthem is scheduled to be performed by 18-year-old Nicholas Nauman from Carroll Springs School in Westminster. Adopted from a Ukraine orphanage at the age of six months, Nauman has cerebral palsy, a repaired cleft palate, cortical vision impairment and mental retardation. Yet, given all those hardships, he has somehow memorized the anthem and will sing it Thursday.

Really cool story. Heck, make it an A+.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. boss61

    June 28, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I thought I was the only one who focused on the quality of the Anthem singers. Cool story about the one tonight.

    To me, Richard Troxell always gets an A-plus. I also really liked Elle Winter, the fledgling pop star who sang on the first music and fireworks night back a few weeks ago now. We came to call her a “pop tart” in the Katy Parry sense of the term, but she sure could sing it. Do you remember her, Dan?

    As for Manny, hustling also would help his trade value and his free agency earnings.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Troxell is my absolute favorite. I wasn’t as keen on Winter. She had a great voice but it took so long summer ended by the time Winter finished.

      • boss61

        June 28, 2018 at 10:42 am

        Yeah, she did turn it into a ballad. I thoroughly enjoyed her after-game performance too. Much better than the peroxide blonde who followed two weeks later. She wanted to be a country twanger, but had the wrong voice. She should have done Joan Jett covers.

  2. deqalt

    June 28, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Let’s be honest. Manny hustling or not does not matter. He is leaving within weeks. Our focus needs to be on players who will be here in the future.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Some of which watched as the best player didn’t do a basic thing.

  3. TxBirdFan

    June 28, 2018 at 8:59 am

    I too like the anthem focus and will be traveling up to see Friday night’s game. Hope it’s good.

    Valencia would be a steal for any team right now. Over the past 40 games he’s been steady and consistent, Jones has been great, and Manny has been, well he’s been Manny.

    • boss61

      June 28, 2018 at 9:11 am

      I’ll be there as well Friday night. I’ll look like Tony Siragusa like I always do. I’ll be the guy in orange.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 10:34 am

      I’ll look for ya fellas. Orange. Got it.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 28, 2018 at 9:09 am

    OK, it’s pile on Manny week andI disagree with deqalt’s post above. Manny’s lame duck hustle or lack of does matter.

    His lack of hustle has cost the Orioles on more than one occasion and in more ways than one. Forgive me, I can’t remember the exact details, but just last week he should have been standing on 2nd base instead of 1st after the opposition misplayed, what I remember as a pop fly or dying quail type of ball between the SS and 3rd baseman, which ended up getting to the outfield. As he was lolly-gagging down the 1st base line and witnessing the defensive gaffe, the replay showed a surprised look on his Macho’s face and his eyes lit up. He then hit the jets, but sorry, but it was too late to advance.

    Now here is why, even though he’s a lame duck, it matters. Missed opportunities like these are bad enough in the context of what happens as a result in the game itself, but what kind of message does this send to the troops sitting on the bench, all the way down through lowest reaches of the farm system? Your star players, winning players, just can’t do these things. Witness Adam Jones. It’s sets a team culture. Remember the “Oriole Way”?

    One more thing … although it never seemed to be the case while he was at 3rd, I can’t remember seeing a shortstop that seems so unwilling to get his jersey dirty by diving for the balls that may or may not be out of his reach? Am I alone with this thought? To me, he looks defensively to be a less than average shortstop.

    As far as Buck Showalter goes, I understand talking to you men behind closed doors to express your ‘discontent’ is usually the prudent approach, but sometimes a good old fashion Earl Weaver-like dressing down on the bench in front of the team, crowd and TV cameras can do a world of good.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 10:37 am

      Boog, I hear ya. But you can only do that once. Then it becomes showing up your team. Ask the players of Earl’s Era about that. McNally and DeCinces both challenged him to a fight. Dempsey threw equipment at him.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 28, 2018 at 11:17 am

        I agree Dan, but I did say sometimes …and maybe one of those sometimes would be when it’s your star … especially considering that star is already on his way out the door.

  5. Orial

    June 28, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Very interesting and deserving “hobby” of being an Anthem enthusiast. I remember the old days of just hearing a recording played. So in today’s controversial era any attention given our anthem and who performs it is a big time plus. On to Manny. I don’t think it’s a lack of hustle that plagues Manny as much as a lack of baseball savy/instinct. His reflexes are incredible but his lack of instincts are baffling.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 10:37 am

      I’m not sure I fully buy that. But I get the point.

  6. boss61

    June 28, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Could it be another example of A-Rod emulation?

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 10:38 am

      I think it is more not channeling frustration the right way.

  7. jimcarter

    June 28, 2018 at 10:27 am

    I’m not convinced that trades of any significance will occur (not that there’s much to trade besides Manny). Based on personnel decisions, I don’t see that management is looking to the distant future. If so; guys like Wilkerson and Wynns would be doing more than cameo appearances. The stigma of having the worst Orioles team in history may be more than Buck and Dan can stand. I think they’re “going for it”. Not the playoffs, but maybe 60 wins.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      I think they will make trades. But I understand your skepticism on what may come back.

  8. Dblack2508

    June 28, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Valencia could bring a lower level minor leaguer who could be a hidden gem. Maybe after last night someone will want to give their top prospects for Chris Davis.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      Yeah. Can’t imagine that. But hey dreams are important. :).

    • Ekim

      June 29, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      Dan… I’m not convinced that any team would want Davis even if we continued to pay his salary… just saying…

  9. Bancells Moustache

    June 28, 2018 at 11:32 am

    There’s one out, a man on second and you are down one run in the 7th. The second year guy at the plate is batting .093 with RISP, and your two best hitters are sitting on deck and in the hole. Can someone tell me why you don’t bunt Mancini there to move Joseph over, instead watching a 4 pitch strikeout?

    • boss61

      June 28, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Because the RISP batting average may be misleading and may not truly reflect Mancini’s odds of success in that circumstance. Mancini also might not be a good bunter. Hindsight, of course, is 20-20.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 28, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      My philosophy has always been, you can bunt bunters. But if a guy doesn’t bunt well or often, I don’t condone it.

  10. SIXDAYWAR

    June 28, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Gary Thorne did mention at some point the Annapolis shooter otherwise I would not have followed up on that. Which was more of a story ? Clearly a man getting into a Newspaper office and opening fire. The Mariners coming to Camden Yards and getting well with a sweep largely without Nelson Cruz. This year …not a story anymore at all. Even the question why is not worth asking anymore. Since ,well like the other story, we are not getting the answers we are really looking for when we ask.

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