Ron Gardenhire is not pleased

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The Twins have been playing pretty poorly since clinching last week. Ron Gardenhire has noticed, and had this to say after last night’s loss to the Royals:

“Not a good game for our ballclub,” he said. “We didn’t pitch worth a
crap. We haven’t pitched worth a crap this whole trip. It’s not
acceptable. You have to do better. You can’t lose the edge.”

“We lollygag the ball around the infield. We lollygag our way down to first. We lollygag in and out of the dugout,” Gardenhire did not add, but totally should have.

I don’t know how you keep a team sharp when there’s two weeks between clinching and the first playoff game. Maybe Gardenhire doesn’t either, given that his team has had to play 163 games to make into the postseason last year and only won the division by a single game the previous time they made the playoffs in 2006. But he’s been here before. The Twins won the Central by 13.5 games in 2002 and comfortably again in 2004.

Overall, however, I have to think that health — as opposed to how well you do in mostly meaningless games against the Royals in the last week of the season — is most important to a playoff team this time of the year.  My guess: the Twins will be just fine.

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.