The Brewers are basically unstoppable

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Probably worth noting at this point that the Milwaukee Brewers are unstoppable. They’ve won 19 of 21 games. When this nice little run began in late July they were tied with the Cardinals for first place. Now they lead by seven and are close to putting the NL Central away. They’re 47-15 at home for cryin’ out loud.

With the exception of the Cardinals, against whom Milwaukee is 4-2 during this stretch, the competition hasn’t been stellar. Six games against Houston. Three each against Chicago, L.A. and the fading Pirates.  But the Brewers can’t make the schedule and they’re taking care of the business they need to take care of in astonishingly efficient fashion. And hey, the Cards play the same guys, so it’s not as if it’s unfair somehow.

It’s not totally locked up yet — we still have nearly a month and a half of baseball to be played — but it sure seems like the NL Central “race” is about to be a thing of the past.

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.