In the Nick of time

You know it’s gotten pretty slow around here when a Ryan Ouellette trade to the White Sox has stirred up some fans.

I guess it’s more about the mystery of it, since we haven’t received confirmation or more details from the Orioles. Ouellette found out after last night’s game at Double-A Bowie.

Ouellette no longer was part of the Baysox’s roster and he hadn’t pitched since June 8. He was 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in nine games, with 14 hits and 11 walks in 13 1/3 innings.

There’s been a lot more chatter about Nick Markakis’ comments that ran yesterday in The Sun. He decided to do a little venting, which made for a nice off-day story for beat writer Jeff Zrebiec.


I’ll start out by saying that Zrebiec did outstanding work, as usual. He’s one of the best beat guys in the country, though he spends way too much time in front of his laptop. An off-day in San Diego, and he’s filing blog entries. I need to give him some relaxation tips.

I’m glad that Markakis spoke up. It’s certainly not his nature, which made the story jump off the page (and your computer screen.)

Markakis stated the obvious. It’s like Mark Hendrickson saying, “I’m tall.” Or Koji Uehara, speaking through interpreter Jiwon Bang, saying, “I’m hurt a lot.” But the frustration built to a point where Markakis had to turn the release valve.

He’s right that too many hitters bring a poor approach to the plate or seem to lack a plan. Did that habit slip past anyone who watches this team on a nightly basis?

“Sometimes, guys are going up there and it looks like they have no idea what they’re doing,” he told Zrebiec. “I’m not saying that to bash guys. I want guys to be successful. I want this team to be successful, and I have to produce as well. I’m part of this. But it takes a lot more than one big bat.

“We definitely need that one guy who could hit you 40 home runs, but from top to bottom, you need guys getting on base. You need guys in there who have a plan, who have a clue and who know how to execute that plan and get on base. We don’t need every guy in this lineup trying to hit home runs. We’re paid to get on base and figure out how to score and drive in runs. You look at the Yankees. They have guys who can hit home runs, but everybody in that lineup can get on base.”

I don’t see how you could argue with that assessment.

Markakis was smart enough to share some of the responsibility for the offensive woes. He has three homers and 21 RBIs. He struck out Wednesday with a chance to deliver the tying run. He wasn’t laying all the blame at other lockers. Wise move.

“We’re all bad right now,” he said. “It’s obvious. Everybody watches the games. They see it, they know it. It is what it is until we start making adjustments.”

Markakis also questioned the direction of the club, which is valid when you’re sporting the worst record in baseball after expectations grew that, just maybe, the Orioles were ready to flirt with .500.

“At this point, yeah, where are we going?” he said. “I know we have a lot of injured guys. We’re in the toughest division in baseball and we’re a last-place team. But at this point, it’s mind-boggling. You don’t even know what to think, but you still have to be professional and go out and play every day.”

Maybe we’ll find out later tonight whether Markakis’ rant got through to anyone and made a noticeable difference. I’m not sure that you’ll see guys taking more pitches and working the count, or making more of an effort to slap the ball to the right side and advance runners. I’m not sure that the Orioles will run off 10 straight victories.

It that’s all it takes, I really wish he would have spoken up a lot sooner.

That’s not his nature, but we might have seen the first real signs that Nick Markakis is ready to lead this club.

Somebody has to do it.

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