Finally…MacPhail makes an error

March 04, 2008 | Drew Forrester

It took the better part of 10 months, but O’s GM Andy MacPhail finally botched one.  Give him credit.  Most guys previously in his position with the team couldn’t go 10 weeks without making a mistake.

The club’s handling of the Nick Markakis contract situation has to be one of the most short-sighted things they’ve done in recent years. 

In case you haven’t heard, the O’s couldn’t agree on a contract with Markakis for ’08 so they’ve renewed his deal – and given him the mandated $55,000 raise – and young Nick will now be arbitration eligible after the 2008 season.

Bad move. 

Cheap move.

And, sadly, a typical move from an organization that seemingly prides itself on doing the wrong thing at the absolute worst time.

First, it’s fair to at least point out that perhaps this decision – to NOT give Markakis more money and/or a new contract – could be the fault of someone other than Andy MacPhail.  MacPhail might have gone to ownership with a “Let’s sign Markakis to a new contract” theme and the powers-that-be might have balked.  That’s a reasonable thought.  Also, perhaps Markakis’ money numbers weren’t reflective of a player entering his 3rd season in the big leagues.  That’s also reasonable.  Perhaps Markakis doesn’t really want a new deal in Baltimore.  Yeah, sure, he doesn’t like millions of dollars, right?  Right.

Flash “E-GM” on the scoreboard and charge Andy MacPhail with his first error since coming on board last June.

If the team allowed the media to question MacPhail on matters such as these, I’d gladly throw Andy some chin music and ask him what on earth he could be thinking poor-boying Markakis and handing him over a paltry $55k raise after all he’s done for the club over the last two seasons.  Yeah, I know, some of you out there are thinking, “I’d love to get a $55,000 raise…Markakis is already making too much for playing a kid’s game.” 

You can look at it like that if you want – and you can tell Markakis to take his $55k and be happy, but we all know it’s hard to tell a guy who just got slapped in the face to “walk it off”.

Markakis is the rock star this team should be building around.  With all due respect to the greatness of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis’ career in the majors isn’t even comparable to Jones’ – at this stage.  Markakis is proven.  Jones, is not.

Why the team would fart around with Markakis at this point is unclear, unless they’d rather be mean then accomodating.

First off – and if I were advising Markakis, I’d remind him of THIS right away:  The team spent roughly $90 million on player salaries last season.  This year, it will be more like $65 million. 

I’m no math wizard, but I think that comes out to $25 million to the good.

I realize attendance is down, fewer people than ever are going to the games, buying beers, hot dogs, etc. and, in general, revenue is probably a small concern for the O’s right now, but I just checked that math again and I’m right.  They’re $25 million to the good right off the bat in ’08 given the team’s ’07 salaries vs. what they’ll be paying in ’08.

The club would rather give Markakis a $55,000 raise – and aggravate him – then to give him a decent increase and prove to him that they fully understand how valuable he might be to the team this season and beyond?

It’s “trust money”, more than anything else.

Give the kid $750k for ’08, show him you trust his abilities and his knowledge that the team is doing more for him than they rightfully have to – and see if he doesn’t repay you on the backside with production and loyalty of his own.

Name something that Markakis hasn’t done since arriving on the scene in Baltimore?  Go ahead.  You can’t.  He’s not Mickey Mantle2 – yet – but right now, today, he’s the best baseball player on the team, BY FAR. 

Aubrey Huff is set to make about $7 million in ’08.  Jay Gibbons will collect $5 million.  Nick Markakis gets $455k.  You’d be barking too, right?

This is going to be a very sensitive two or three year period for Markakis.  He has endured two seasons of losing…guess what looms on the horizon for Nick and the team?  Right.  More losing. 

Rather than start out the ’08 campaign on a good note with Markakis, they’ve decided to brush him back with an ill-timed spit-ball that dances around the plate and leaves him flustered and frustrated.

I don’t know who’s to blame in the Warehouse for this faux pas, but someone is.

Markakis deserved better treatment.

Welcome to the club, Nick.

As you found out, unfortunately, it’s typical.