O’s Mark the Spot

In what has become an epidemic, the Orioles have now signed their brightest star, Nick Markakis to a six-year, $66 million extension.

This contract is the second-largest in club history behind Miguel Tejada‘s six-year, $72 million back in 2003.

Markakis is the center of the Os offense (keithallisonphoto.com)

Markakis is the center of the O's offense (keithallisonphoto.com)

The 25-year old Markakis had another solid year in 2008 posting a line of .306/.406/.491 with 48 doubles, 20 homers, 87 RBI and 10 stolen bases. As the centerpiece of the Baltimore offense, it was crucial for them to lock him up for the near future.

I hope this is a sign of the Orioles dedication to start turning things around. After sticking in the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes until the bitter end this winter, the Orioles have looked (at least publicly) ready to start to compete.

If they are serious about doing this, they will need to make an effort to sign their other star in second baseman Brian Roberts. Roberts has publicly stated that he indeed wants to stay in Baltimore and wants the O’s to sign him long term. However with reports constantly stating the O’s desire to trade the speedster, this deal seems less and less likely.

The signing of Markakis rests on the heals of two trades the Orioles were involved in over the weekend. The first came Sunday when the Orioles sent lefty Garrett Olson and righty Henry Williamson to the Cubs for former star prospect, Felix Pie. Pie had a successful minor league career but was never able to get things going in the bigs. This could partially be due to the lack of consistent play given to the youngster or even Chicago’s horrible ability to cultivate and nourish its young players. Either way the O’s received a solid young player for them to give a chance to.

The second came today as the O’s look to deepen their rather shallow batch of starting pitchers and acquired right-hander David Pauley from their division rival Boston Red Sox sending reliever Randor Bierd to Bean Town. Pauley posted very strong numbers for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2008 with a 14-4 record and 3.55 ERA in 25 starts. This too was a smart move for the Orioles as they acquired a starting pitcher (which they desperately need) who was really never going to get a chance in Boston thanks to their 23-man rotation full of veterans and highly touted youngsters. Look for Pauley to get an opportunity to earn a spot in Baltimore’s rotation in 2009.

With a flurry of fantastic moves over the past two days, the Orioles are making strong strides towards improving their club. They still need to make a big splash move to help this team take the next step.

Here’s hoping they do.

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Other MLB roster moves:
Seattle and enigma Felix Hernandez agree to a one-year contract for $3.8 million, the White Sox and closer Bobby Jenks agree to a one-year $5.6 million contract, Huston Street agrees to a one-year contract worth $4.5 million with Colorado, and the Phillies extend set-up man Ryan Madson’s contract for three-years and $12 million.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | Facebook

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