I think we all can agree that The Great Orioles Fanfest Snub of 2018 was an unnecessary and unfortunate situation for all involved.
The Orioles, who haven’t done anything to improve a last-place team, didn’t need another reason for fans to be ticked off.
Orioles’ fans, who feel like they are constantly taking it on the chin, certainly didn’t deserve a double blowback when Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop skipped Saturday’s annual event at the Convention Center.
Machado, who, according to manager Buck Showalter, had a solid personal reason for missing Fanfest, didn’t need to offer his detractors more ammunition that he’s selfish or not focused on being an Oriole.
And Schoop, whose reputation has been pristine during his time in Baltimore, didn’t need his first orange-and-black eye, especially when Showalter opined that Schoop buckled to bad advice from his agent and didn’t have a sufficient excuse to stay home.
For those who follow this team closely, it just provided another opportunity to use the old joke, “You can’t spell dysfunction without an O.”
But here’s the deal: This shouldn’t have any far-reaching implications in regards to Schoop.
At some point, Schoop, who is never easy to reach in the offseason, will talk publicly and be contrite about his decision that left fans hanging.
And fans will forgive him – I’m sure a few, though, will boo him on Opening Day – because he has always been a good citizen. And because fans forgive good players for minor indiscretions.
And if Schoop wants to sign an extension, and the Orioles offer the right amount of money, he’ll sign an extension.
And if the Orioles don’t offer up sufficient money, he won’t sign an extension.
That’s how all of this works. I know the emotions might be a little high right now, and fans, understandably, feel slighted. I get all the reasons you’re upset. You aren’t alone.
I know the organization was miffed; Schoop and his people probably felt that the arbitration process was cutthroat and it was best to remove Schoop from the spotlight until it is over.
But to the fans that think that this is an indication that Schoop will be gone as soon as he becomes a free agent after the 2019 season, relax. Or to those who have demanded – seriously – that the Orioles ship out Schoop because of this, double relax.
Don’t get me wrong: Schoop may be gone within two years. Maybe sooner. But that will be almost solely for financial reasons, not because of a Fanfest nose-thumbing.
There’s nothing else to read into this. Bad decision. An olive branch eventually will be offered. And everyone will move one – well before it’s time for Schoop to move on.
Reiterating thoughts on Manny to shortstop
I wrote my opinions on this before it became official, but I’ll reiterate.
I don’t see the decision to move Machado from third base to shortstop as a major risk.
If it works out, then Machado has improved his stock as a pending free agent and as a potential July trade chip. If it doesn’t work out, he’s still gonna generate major interest in the trade market as a third baseman and he’s still gonna land a hefty payday next winter.
I do have some concern that he won’t be as good at short as he is at third, and so the left side defense could take a hit. But, frankly, he’ll probably be at least as good as Tim Beckham was at short in the second half of last season, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Machado is better. Certainly, Beckham at third will be a dropoff from Machado, but nearly anyone would be.
If Beckham is adequate at third and Machado above-average at shortstop, any decline shouldn’t be particularly noticeable.
In addition, I have no problem with Machado requesting to play shortstop. That’s his natural position, his first love. He deferred to veteran J.J. Hardy for parts of six seasons. With Hardy a free agent, it made sense for Machado to revisit the issue. He’s earned that right – at least to ask.
Oh, and one last thing: Appeasing Machado with a switch to shortstop shouldn’t be viewed as a sign of goodwill to keep him in an Orioles’ uniform in 2019. What’s going to keep him in an Orioles’ uniform, or send him packing, is a mind-numbing amount of money. That’s what happens for talented, 26-year-old free agents. He’s earned that right, too.
Talking in York tonight with McGregor, Antonen
One last reminder that tonight is my annual Hot Stove Baseball Talk at 7 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, 2215 Brandywine Lane, in York, Pa. My special guests are former Orioles’ standout pitcher Scott McGregor, who is now the organization’s minor league rehab pitching coordinator, and Mel Antonen, MASN panelist and Sirius/XM radio commentator.
There is no admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to benefit the church’s youth ministry program, which is sending a contingent to Houston this summer for the ELCA’s National Youth Gathering.
It’s a great cause – and the event is always a great time taking baseball. Hope to see you there.
First Baltimore Baseball radio show of 2018
I’m happy to announce that we are partnering again with WOYK 1350 in York to air the weekly “Baltimore Baseball Show.” The 30-minute program will run at 6 p.m. on most Mondays this season (with the exception of a few Tuesdays from late February through March).
The show can be heard live on the station’s website and is archived there. It is also available on iTunes as part of BaltimoreBaseball.com’s podcasts.
This week’s edition – the first of 2018 — is below. It’s a wrap-up of Fanfest as well as an interview with Antonen about the Orioles, the slow free-agent market and his Hall of Fame ballot. Check out the show today and throughout the season.