Is Chase Utley injured?

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ESPN’s Buster Olney talks to a scout and an unnamed executive, each of whom think that Chase Utley’s struggles this year are because he’s injured:

Two years ago, one scout noticed in June that Utley did not seem
right, and at season’s end, Utley had hip surgery. And the same scout is
seeing a lot of the same things this season. “The tell-tale sign for me
is how he is not getting to pitches in the lower half of the strike
zone, which makes me wonder if his (perceived injury) might be affecting
his balance at the plate,” said the scout. “He’s a guy who has always
thrived on balls in the lower half of the strike zone — he murders them
— and he’s just not getting to them these days.”

Said a
rival executive: “He just does not look right to me at all.”

I have to think that of all of the things baseball players have to think about, getting their minds around the difference between playing through pain and playing hurt has to be one of the tougher ones.

For years, when you’re a young guy on the make, you get it drilled into your head that you need to be tough, that you can’t get a rep for being injury prone and all of that, and then, relatively late in your baseball life — when you become an established star — you’re immediately expected to get your brain around the idea that playing injured is a bad thing. Which it is, but it has to run counter to all of your competitive instincts.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.