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The Manny Machado Question

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Given the recent antics of the superstar soon-to-be free agent SS/3B, do the Padres really want Manny Machado?

My bad, I didn’t see your foot there.
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Making its way across social media and the Internet at large are takes on the events of last night’s marathon 13-inning Dodgers win involving one Manny Machado.

In case you missed it at the bottom of the 10th, the Dodgers shortstop blooped a Junior Guerra offering to Orlando Arcia, who made the throw to Jesus Aguilar for what should have been a benign 6-3 out. With Aguilar’s foot still applied to the outer portion of the bag for an extended second the incoming left foot of Machado made contact with the ankle of the Brewers’ first baseman, causing him to stumble. An ensuing exchange of words between Machado and Aguilar were followed by the requisite pouring of teammates out of the dugout for some posturing.

The aftermath of Machado’s dragging foot kick led to some choice quotes from the Brewers clubhouse after the game:

“It’s a dirty play by a dirty player. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can’t respect someone who plays the game like that.” - Christian Yelich

“It’s a dirty play. He can say whatever he wants. It was dirty.” - Travis Shaw

The offender even admitted as much:

“I was trying to get over him and hit his foot. If that’s dirty, that’s dirty. I don’t know, call it what you want.” - Manny Machado

The events of last night added to the buzz surrounding the Florida native and former longtime Oriole who figures to be one of the biggest free agents available to teams this offseason. A few suspect slides into 2nd base (of which one was reviewed and declared interference) look like they were torn from the Chase Utley book of unsavory old-school baseball tactics.

However, the biggest concern making the rounds on Padres Twitter is the question of Manny Machado’s hustle.

It should be noted that hustle in the Padres fan lexicon is a complicated term that extends far beyond the standard dictionary definition. Hustle is what made players like Chris Denorfia and David Eckstein endearing to many a fan; scrappy and gritty are synonyms in this case. Hustle can also be used derisively: it’s what many claim kept Jose Pirela in this season’s lineup. It’s what Wil Myers desperately lacks.

Therein lies the quandary regarding hustle: is it merely a trait needed for those players who truly lack the natural talent? Can hustle be eschewed by naturally talented players? Should hustle still be demanded of those who also possess natural talent?

Given the evidence on Manny Machado this postseason it’s fair to wonder if teams will pursue Machado as fervently as they would have before.

But more importantly, do you want Machado as a Padre?

A yes is for obvious reasons: Machado is still an immensely talented player and that’s why the Dodgers rented his services via trade. The career statline doesn’t lie: 33.7 WAR over 7 seasons, 5.7 WAR in 2018. Career .282 batting average with an OPS+ of 121. 4-time All Star including this season. 2 Gold Gloves. He’s also one of Fernando Tatis, Jr’s favorite players.

A no is probably based on what you’ve seen this postseason: a player who won’t even hustle in the biggest of spotlights or at minimum will only hustle in order to make a borderline dirty slide or to kick an opposing player. Do the Padres really need this type of player in a clubhouse soon to be full of young, impressionable men? You might agree with the opinion of former player and now MLB Network analyst Eric Byrnes or even that of former pitcher and “get off my mound” guy Dallas Braden.

SB Nation’s own Grant Bisbee succinctly summed up Manny Machado as a heel in his article, which feels apropos for a Dodgers team most of us would rather not see win. Could the Padres make use of someone with an edge to their character?

What do you think? Do you think the Padres should still pursue Manny Machado despite the character issues displayed in the postseason?