In Short Order: The Manny Machado rumors are the Hot Stove's main course
Welcome to In Short Order, a weekly look at all the baseball that I like and can't stop obsessing over. We'll mostly live at the edges of the game; at the intersection of the weird, the fun and the esoteric. Oh yeah, and hair.
The Winter Meetings are over, but they were just the appetizer. It's all been in preparation for this:
A 25-year-old third baseman that can play short, has thirty-home run power and is a perennial MVP candidate is on the trading block.
Manny Machado is a one-man wrecking crew. He's a groundball devourer in Air Jordans that can save a pitching staff. He can take a team on the bubble of the postseason and turn them into postseason contenders, and a contender into a favorite.
It's a trade that could reshape the game. Whoever acquires Machado will basically scoop out the top of their farm system. Even rebuilding teams are considering dealing away the future for a chance to acquire the kind of young, generational talent that he provides.
It makes sense. If Machado were a Draft prospect, teams would be praying for the chance to draft him, hoping he'd develop into a plus-plus defender with excellent bat to ball skills. Well, guess what? That's what Machado already is.
He's topped 30 home runs each of the last three years and should be getting stronger as he enters his mid-twenties -- which is a scary thought considering that he can already do this to baseballs. And though UZRand DRS are flawed defensive statistics, you should rest assured that he grades about above-average in both -- whether he's playing third or short.
When you have the chance to acquire an MVP-type player, you take it.
We won't know who wins any potential trade for many years, but we can be safe in the knowledge that we're all winners. After all, we get to enjoy watching every twist and trade rumor turn throughout the winter.
Now, on to the weird stuff:
Pat Neshek's unique pitch face
After dominating for the Phillies in the first part of last year -- posting a 1.12 ERA 40 1/3 innings -- the autograph-collecting Neshek has reportedly inked a two-year deal to return to Philadelphia. But his strange motion and surprising success aren't the only things that are exciting about the player. No, it's that he looks like he's trying to eat ice cream while pitching. Don't believe me?
Then how do you explain this?
It's not recent, either:
The Rule 5 power side-armer
Pirates Rule 5 selection Jordan Milbrath is a sider-armer, but he's less like the soft-tossing Brad Ziegler and more like Randy Johnson: He can reportedly throw 97-99 mph and generate a ton of grounders. It's all thanks to the Indians, who had him go back to Class A Advanced and try out the new arm angle. Guess that worked.
You should know about ...
Coco Crisp's personal force field.
Though Crisp hasn't officially retired, he did take a job coaching a high school baseball team last year, which means he technically owns one very strange active record: Crisp hasn't been hit by a pitch since May 9, 2011. That's a span of 2,724 plate appearances without a HBP.
Closest on his tail? Eric Hosmer, whose streak is only 1,064 plate appearances long.
However, Crisp doesn't have the record for most PAs without an HBP. That belongs to Mark Lemke, who came to the plate 3,664 times without getting hit by a pitch.
What to watch this weekend: A spoiler-free game from 2017
There is little I enjoy more when I need some background noise, or something relaxing before bed, then going to the MLB.com Media Center and picking out a game at random. However, when the selection is truly random, you run the risk of choosing a blowout or a game with a rain delay.
Fortunately, the good folks at r/baseball picked out a number of great games that you can stream on MLB's YouTube page, but kept the result and why the game was interesting a secret. Here's a link to the full thread, but here's my personal recommendation from that list: Orioles at Tigers from May 16. Even better, this game features the Tigers broadcast crew schooling viewers on advanced stats -- that's infotainment!