Thoughts On Nick Markakis’ Departure

Sports and Bets — December 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm by

The longest-tenured Oriole, Nick Markakis, signed a four-year, $44 million contract to play for the Atlanta Braves. This one fucking stings. As much as losing Nelson Cruz hurt, we could all see that one coming from a mile away. We heard as soon as the offseason began that the O’s weren’t comfortable giving Cruz a four-year deal, and it seemed inevitable that another team would. But Markakis signing with the Braves is a different beast. It always felt like a foregone conclusion that Markakis would return to the Birds. Even when reports broke that talks between the two parties had stalled and that other teams were diligently pursuing him, I still thought that he would come back. It really didn’t dawn on me until last night that we were actually going to lose Markakis. Talk about a gut punch.

Even though Cruz was an absolute stud for the Birds, he only played here one season. He was a hired gun, a more likable version of Jack Parkman. Nick, on the other hand, was a home-grown talent. He was a first round pick for the O’s and played his first nine seasons here, so losing him definitely hurts more when it comes to sentimental reasons. One of the best parts of the Birds’ trip to the postseason last year was seeing Nick get a chance to play on the big stage. After years of playing on shitty teams and missing the 2012 postseason due to an injury, it was fucking awesome to finally see him in the playoffs for the first time in his career.

As much as I love Nick and hate to see him go, I do think that he’s an easier piece to replace than most people think. And a much easier piece to replace than Cruz. Let’s be honest here, the guy is nowhere near the player that he was six or seven years ago. For unknown reasons, he peaked in his early-to-mid twenties, while most ballplayers peak in their late twenties. He hit 24 home runs in the past two seasons combined. He hit 23 home runs during the 2007 season. The lowest batting averages, on-base percentages, and slugging percentages of Markakis’ career all came in the last two seasons. As hard as it is to believe, he was actually a better hitter in his rookie season than he was these past two seasons. Markakis has had a great career so far, but he’s fell way short of the superstardom that he looked to be destined for. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Alejandro De Aza is able to provide about 80% of Markakis’ production for about 50% of the cost.

But even if De Aza is able to do a suitable Markakis impression, the Orioles’ offense still desperately needs another bat or two. Right now, I have no idea who the hell the Birds’ DH would be, and I’m worried about Steve Pearce being able to come close to repeating last year’s breakout season. The O’s are also currently putting a lot of faith in bounce back campaigns from Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters. Big years from any of those players, let alone all three is no sure thing.

The last couple days have been pretty awful for Oriole fans, but if anyone deserves some leeway around these parts, it’s Dan Duquette. Duquette has taken this team from the abyss to three straight winning seasons and two trips to the playoffs. Things may be looking bleak right now, but I have faith that Duquette will make the necessary moves to have this team contending for a title once again. It’s always darkest before the dawn, babes.

cover pic: Sport HD Wallpapers

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