Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nick Markakis, 2009 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini #31

Yes, I got the news about Nick Markakis last night, but I decided to sleep on it in case it was some elaborate hoax. But no, it's true: for the first time since 2005, someone besides #21 will be starting in right field for the Orioles next Opening Day. Markakis signed a four-year, $45 million contract with the Atlanta Braves after the O's balked at a fourth year. The historically cautious Orioles were reportedly concerned about a herniated disc in Nick's neck, and I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on that. After all, I haven't forgotten the sad saga of Brian Roberts' health-related decline, and I'm sure Dan Duquette and company haven't either. So in one sense, I'm relieved. Baltimore's soft-spoken outfielder has given us steady competence and numerous great moments over the past nine seasons, and those memories won't have to be tarnished by watching him slide into irrelevance in his thirties. There have already been signs that Nick is slowing down, and in the cutthroat American League East nobody can afford to make personnel decisions for sentimental reasons.

This might sound like sour grapes, but I'm just trying to examine the pros and cons of life without Nick Markakis in orange and black. On the "con" side, the O's are already a team with deficiences in on-base percentage, and jettisoning a guy with a .358 career OBP isn't exactly going to help matters. At the moment, the Orioles don't have firm starters on the outfield corners or at designated hitter. They'll have to find some workable combination of Steve Pearce, Alejandro de Aza, David Lough, and maybe eventually Dariel Alvarez, a 26-year-old Cuban outfielder who had an impressive 2014 at Bowie and Norfolk. There aren't many attractive options on the free agent market, since it's hard to see Duquette throwing money at Melky Cabrera after taking a hardline stance on Nelson Cruz and Markakis.

Of course, the Orioles' 2003 first-round pick is leaving a void off of the field as well. By all reports, Nick is also well liked in the clubhouse, and his charitable contributions in the Baltimore area will also be missed. It sucks that he's gone, but it could be worse. Can you imagine being an Athletics fan? I'd be afraid to form any kind of attachment to any of their players.


Oriole Paul said...

I am glad we did not overpay for Cruz and Markakis. I have a huge Fat Head in my game room of #21 and he's been a favorite of mine for a long time, but overpaying for memories is a bad business plan. I am impressed Duquette has stood tough through the crap I'm sure that is coming over the radio waves. Put Delmon at DH, Pearce in LF and Alvarez/De Aza/Urritia combo in RF. 8M from Cruz, 15M from Markakis= enough money to pay Kemp. No one on the
FA market is worth the $$$ it would take to get them in B'more. Nicky, thanks for the effort!

Commishbob said...

Kevin, you've made me feel a little better about the Markakis loss. What you (and Oriole Paul) have said makes sense.

I'll miss watching him play, he was a favorite but I guess it's time to move on.

Rob said...

He was definitely my favorite current Oriole and it hurts to see him go. But seeing the stories about him having neck surgery in a few days suddenly softens the blow...