Matty Alou: 1938-2011

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Sad news: Matty Alou has died. He was 72. No cause of death was given. An overdose of being a really awesome and underrated contact hitter is being investigated.

Alou, as most folks know, was part of what — with a nod to the DiMaggios — was arguably the most successful trio of brothers in baseball history. The Alous had more hits, actually, for what that’s worth.  In 1966 Matty won the batting title and his brother Felipe came in second. NL pitchers of the 1960s probably had Alou nightmares on a regular basis.

In 1969 he led the NL in at bats, hits and doubles, but Alou’s best season may have actually been 1968. He didn’t win the batting crown or lead the league in anything that year, but he posted an OPS+ of 130 and hit .332 in the worst overall offensive season since the dead ball era.  A lot of guys were amazing that year without anyone really knowing it due to the extreme pitcher-friendly context.

Adios Matty. Hopefully your passing inspires some people who don’t know much about the very good players of the 1960s to read up.

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.