Bobby Valentine goes to pinch-hitter with 2-2 count

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Bobby Valentine’s quotes and actions have gotten more erratic by the day. If he isn’t complaining about Alfredo Aceves and the rest of his “weakest roster ever,” he’s making a bizarre in-game choice, like inserting pinch-hitters mid-at-bat.

That’s what he did in the seventh inning of a scoreless game today against the Blue Jays. Valentine opted to stick with a .071-hitting Jose Iglesias with a man on first and two outs in the top of the frame. However, after Pedro Ciriaco stole second base, Valentine had a change of heart, inserting Daniel Nava into the game with a 2-2 count on the hitter.

Nava, predictably, grounded out to end the frame, and the Red Sox went on to lose 5-0.

Now, the Red Sox were 66-80 anyway. They’re certainly at the point of the season at which they should be evaluating youngsters. No, that one at-bat isn’t going to tell us much more about Iglesias than we already know (he’s not ready to hit in the majors), but if you’re going to let him start it, then you sure as hell ought to let him finish it.

Instead, Valentine chose to embarrass his young shortstop nationally. Make no mistake: he knew when he made that move that the Boston media was going to take it and run with it. No, maybe it won’t make Sportscenter, but everyone in the baseball community was going to notice it. Blown out of proportion or not, the Red Sox manager made a statement that he has no faith at all in Iglesias’ ability to hit.

At this point, it’s really a sick joke that the Red Sox haven’t fired Valentine. Everyone assumes it’s coming as soon as the season ends anyway, so why keep up the charade?

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.