Cliff Lee in Game 4? Too soon!

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Ron Washington, not surprisingly, was asked today if he plans on using Cliff Lee in Game 4 on three days’ rest. He, not surprisingly, wouldn’t say one way or the other.

My view of this is that asking the Cliff Lee question today is premature.  Even if Washington knows in his heart that he’s going to bring back Cliff Lee on short rest for Game 4, he’s not going to say anything about until the end of Game 3, is he? Does this not become a totally different series if Colby Lewis shuts down the Giants tomorrow? Wouldn’t Washington like the option to change his mind? What purpose would it serve for Washington to even comment on it, because implicit in the question — or explicit in a followup — is an assumption of a loss in Game 3, which is nothing a manager is ever going to touch.

Either way, it’s unlikely in my view that Washington uses Lee in Game 4. Lee has never done it and rumor has it that he was not at all receptive to even the suggestion of it when he pitched for the Phillies last year.  I think it’s Lewis and Hunter and if the Rangers die before they get back to Lee’s slot in the rotation, well, then they die.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.