It’s easy to come up with reasons why Orioles manager Buck Showalter said unequivocally on Saturday that Manny Machado will move to shortstop for what might be his final season with the club.
Are the Orioles just trying to appease Machado in the hope that he’ll want to re-up with the team after his “walk” year?
Are they hoping to increase his value for a possible midseason trade?
Or do they simply think he’s the best man for the job?
Well, the best possible shortstop theory is logical, but it might be even simpler than that.
Tim Beckham, who played regularly at shortstop after he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays last July 31, made nine errors in 49 games at shortstop over the remainder of the season. That number isn’t off the charts, but it’s pretty clear that Showalter and the O’s were spoiled by the steady performance of J.J. Hardy.
Hardy made more than nine errors in a full season only twice in his seven years with the club and he made everything look totally effortless. Beckham is a terrific athlete, but he still was a work in progress at short five years into his major league career.
Showalter would probably prefer to use him as a super utilityman who bats at the top of the order every day, but settled on moving him to third base.
He obviously should not be compared with Machado at either position, but he is quick enough to be a solid third baseman if he sets his mind to it.
It makes more sense than the notion that the Orioles are just trying to keep Machado happy.
That won’t make a bit of difference when the big-market teams start bidding on him next winter.