How Can Orioles Compensate For Loss Of Nick Markakis?
Each week, PressBox baseball writers weigh in on a different topic. This week, Jim Henneman and Matt Palmer weigh in on how will the Orioles compensate for the loss of right fielder Nick Markakis and how his absence will affect the team's fortunes.
By Jim Henneman
At this point in the season, you don't replace a Nick Markakis. You find people to take his place on the field -- in this case, it may require as many as three -- but it's not feasible to think you're going to replace a player with his capabilities.
With what he brings to the clubhouse, to the offense and the defense, Markakis' presence in the lineup is hardly measureable. According to those that gauge players by their numbers, even the greatest are worth only five games during the course of a year. But others might suggest the loss of Markakis could be worth that much to the Orioles the rest of the season.
Manager Buck Showalter has to find another leadoff hitter, even though that wasn't Markakis' ideal spot in the lineup, and someone to play right field. Nate McLouth is the logical choice for leadoff, while Chris Davis, Lew Ford, Xavier Avery and a host of others (perhaps even including a promotion of L. J. Hoes from the minor leagues) have to step up in right field.
In the meantime, Wilson Betemit, lost in the shuffle since his return from the disabled list, figures to benefit from added at-bats, especially against right-handed pitchers. How he fares, for the most part, will determine how well the Orioles are able to cover Markakis' absence. There are no equations that can predict how much the replacements will produce, just as there are none that could have accurately predicted what Markakis might have contributed during the season's last four weeks.
The Orioles have been a better team this year with Markakis in the lineup. There's no question about that. But they have also had to play a stretch of six weeks without him, and now, for the last 22 games, they have to concentrate on how to deal with his absence, rather than worrying about how to replace him.
By Matt Palmer
The Orioles won't be able to adequately replace Nick Markakis in-house. Nate McLouth, a former All-Star with some leadoff experience, will get his chance at the top of the order.
The problem is that Markakis gave the Orioles something special there. He became one of baseball's hottest hitters during the second half of the season and gave the team a boost in confidence and in chemistry.
The Orioles really are a team with fragile chemistry. One player may not seem like a difference-maker, but the club was better with Robert Andino at second base than All-Star Brian Roberts. Andino might not have great numbers, but he fits the team better, and the Orioles have found their greatest success with Andino at second base.
Markakis, in the same way, was no longer a good hitter in the third spot in the lineup, but he was good as a leadoff hitter. The Orioles developed a rhythm with Markakis there, which took them from a decent team to a special team that made believers out of a lot of people.
There are rumors that the Orioles are talking to the Phillies about Juan Pierre, who has a good batting average and on-base percentage. One of his unique qualities is his ability to steal bases, which is not something that Markakis brought to the table. The Orioles are the worst team in all of baseball at stealing bases, with just 46 this season. That's only 12 more than Pierre has had all year. Pierre is among the top-20 base stealers of all time.
The Orioles could use someone like him to help manufacture runs. The club doesn't have a player that makes opposing pitchers think twice about the runners on base.
The Orioles looked like a playoff team when Markakis was at the top of the order. They need to do everything in their power to make sure they still play like one. Getting Pierre could help them achieve that.
Posted Sept. 11, 2012