Markakis discusses state of Orioles as deadline approaches

As fans gave Nick Markakis a standing ovation in the third inning of Friday’s game, the Orioles right fielder wasn’t concerned with pomp and circumstance over his 1,000th career hit.

“When you put it into perspective, that’s one of the least important things I’m worried about right now,” Markakis said before reaching the 1,000 hit milestone. “I’d rather be out there with less hits winning ball games.”

The 27-year-old probably got more joy out of what ensued. In the Orioles’ next at-bat, Adam Jones drove Markakis home with an RBI double to tie the game.

Coming into the season, Markakis envisioned a plethora of similar scenarios alongside a core of budding talent. Now, in the midst of the Orioles ugliest losing streak this season, Markakis, like many fans, is scratching his head.

“I’m probably more shocked with the record, with the players we have on this team,” Markakis said. “We have the talent. We have the guys. We have the veterans. We have the leadership. It’s just hard for us all to be on the same page right now. When you’re on two different pages, it’s tough to win ball games.”

When asked what he meant by ‘leadership’, Markakis made it clear: Buck Showalter was the right man to take control of the downtrodden ballclub.

“Hands down we’re not going to get out managed. That’s for sure. Like everybody says, he comes prepared. He gets it. He understands the game,” Markakis said. “He’s definitely the right guy and the coaching staff is unbelievable. It’s just a matter of us as players going out there and putting up wins.”

Clearly the Orioles have holes to fill on the roster. As the trade deadline approaches, the question is: How does Andy MacPhail fill them? My colleague Steve Melewski points out there are minor leaguers of value, but the Orioles may need more valuable trade chips.

Is there anyone on this club who should be untouchable? For the past few years it was believed a phone call concerning Adam Jones, Markakis, or Matt Wieters wouldn’t be returned. Should that still be the case?

“I think we got a lot of untouchable guys on this team. We have a lot of guys who are baseball players. We have guys that you build your team around,” Markakis said.

Jones, Markakis believes, is one of them, but the O’s centerfielder isn’t naïve.

“In this business I was told I was untouchable before, and I’ve definitely been traded,” Jones said. “I think in this business no matter the circumstances, you’re never completely untouchable. In this world everybody has the right price, and if the price is right a deal can be made.”

Signs are pointing to the Orioles solidifying their core of young talent rather than disseminating it. MacPhail told me in a MASN interview he has let Jones’ agents know the Orioles would like to discuss a long-term deal.

Also, The Baltimore Sun reports the O’s are close to signing JJ Hardy to a three-year extension worth up to $27 million.

It’s a move Markakis is applauding. He’s been lobbying Hardy to re-sign for a while.

“He’s everything you look for in a baseball player, and those are the guys you hold on to,” Markakis said. “He knows my opinion on that. I’d love to have him. I’ve told him numerous times. We’d love to have a guy like that and hopefully things work out and I’ll be playing with him for a while.”

My take: The Orioles would take a huge step backward by trading any of the core players they’ve invested so much in, like Adam Jones, Nick Markakis or Matt Wieters. Sure, the O’s need pitching and the only justification for trading one of those players would be getting a No. 1 starter, but few teams move a No. 1 starter.

What do you think? Should any Oriole be untouchable as the deadline approaches?