Apparently “toughness” was the Red Sox’ biggest problem in 2011

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Word count in the latest column from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe about the new values Bobby Valentine plans to instill in the Red Sox:

  • Some variation of the word “tough”: 26
  • Some reference to running out ground balls: 6
  • “grit”:  3
  • “Punto”: 2
  • Mentions of the quality of the starting pitching: 0
  • Mentions of the pitchers’ “shenanigans”: 1

Ah, the offseason. When a 90-win team’s failure to make the playoffs can be cast as a function of grit, determination and a Punto deficit disorder, and nothing that actually happened on the diamond.

The Orioles are “moving aggressively” to trade Manny Machado

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Orioles “are moving aggressively on Manny Machado trade talks and now believe they can trade him by the end of the week.” There are reportedly “strong offers” for Machado from both the White Sox, per Ken Rosenthal, and the Cardinals, per Nightengale. The Giants, Red Sox, Phillies, and Yankees are also reportedly involved in talks, though it does seem unlikely that the O’s would trade Machado to a division rival.

Machado, 25, is a guy around which a team could build a franchise. The Orioles, however, seem resigned to the notion that they will not be able to sign him to a long term contract once he hits free agency a year from now. If they do deal him, it would not be terribly shocking to see the O’s just go all-in with a full rebuild, putting relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton and outfielder Adam Jones on the market, given that they too can become free agents following the 2018 season.

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