Next week: The Winter Meetings

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The next time you hear from me I’ll be blogging from Nashville, where the 2012 Winter Meetings will be held in the labyrinthine Gaylord Opryland Resort. I’ve been to that place before. It’s crazy big and confusing what with all of the fern-filled atria and gawking tourists. And, at this time of year, it’s festooned with more Chirstmas lights than that old lady’s down the block times a gajillion.

I may need to take some sort of medication in order to properly orient myself to the surroundings. But that’s my problem.

For your purposes, know that HardballTalk is going to do what it has done four Winter Meetings’ running: blog the living hell out of the thing, passing along every trade, signing, news nugget rumor, and stray observation that comes our way. I got a new phone this year too, so maybe my pictures won’t suck so bad too.  Just a whole lot to look forward to, really.

When Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke signs, we’ll be on it. When Scott Boras says something so mind-blowingly ridiculous that it makes your eyes cross — my guess this year is some Michael Bourn/Willie Mays comp — we’ll let you know. We’ll be all around in the dark. We’ll be ever’-where – wherever you can look. Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, we’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, we’ll be there, etc.

We hope you do this all the time, but starting, say, midday on Sunday, keep a window open with HBT, and refresh liberally. If you do, you won’t miss a thing.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.