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June 17, 2010

Markakis expresses frustration with team, offensive approach

In a rare public display of frustration earlier this week, Orioles' outfielder Nick Markakis questioned both the direction of the club along with the team's offensive approach.

I'll have more on this later in a story for The Sun, but here are a couple of Markakis' comments to tide you over until the story is on the site.

On team needing better approach: “Sometimes, guys are going up there and it looks like they have no idea what they’re doing. 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.”

On hitting coach Terry Crowley and player accountability: "You have to go up there with an approach. [Crowley] has 110 percent nothing to do with the way we are going about our business at the plate and on the field right now. You can have anybody come here and you still are going to have a couple of guys who are not going to change their approach and fix it. It’s worthless. You can point your fingers here and there, but it is what it is. You’re in the big leagues. You have to change your approach on your own. If you go up there clueless, you’re going to come back [to the dugout] clueless. It’s that simple."

On direction of the club: “At this point, yeah, where are we going? 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.”

Markakis was backed both by interim manager Juan Samuel and veteran infielder Ty Wigginton, who agreed that there have been times where guys haven't had a very good plan in going up to the plate.

And in a totally unrelated item, the Orioles have agreed to terms with Old Dominion catcher Joseph Velleggia, their 40th-round pick in last week's draft. Velleggia is from Monkton and went to high school at Calvert Hall. The Orioles have agreed to terms with 24 of their 49 picks.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 12:20 PM | | Comments (68)
        

Comments

I wish he would name names. Someone has to be held accountable for their play.

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Jeff Z's reply: That's not Markakis' way. In fact, this may be the first time I've heard him publicly say anything negative and I've been covering him for four years. And let's be honest - I think it's pretty obvious that a good portion of the team doesn't have a good approach at the plate.

I think Markakis is growing tired of living at 2110 Eutaw St.

It needed to be said. But I question his approach at times as well. He either gets jammed or is way out in front of the pitch a good deal of the time. But at least he knows you need to have a plan.

I agree with him 100%. The coaches have very little to do with this--especially if the players won't listen and change their approach. Frankly, if everyone were just hitting singles and doubles (but getting RBI's), I wouldn't care if another O hit a HR at all this year. Markakis is right--you need guys on base, and you HAVE to get them in.

I applaud Nick for speaking out. One of the many things this team lacks is player leadership. With his talent, reputation for not speaking unless there is something important to say and his contractual commitment to this team and its fans, I can think of no better person to step up. Let's hope management is listening.

It's about time a player has expressed frustration publicly. It's even more refreshing that at least one other player and acting manager support his statement.

My message to Nick and the other O's would be - Now, take that same frustration and focus it on becoming better, do the extra things to get better and for cripes' sake, show some passion out there! You get paid to play baseball... be happy about that and take some ownership of your individual as well as collective situations!

finally we have a player being honest and not throwing out the same tired cliches.
thank you nick.

I have a question, since there's a bunch of young guys on this team... If they don't know what to do, why doesn't the hitting coach or someone sit at the top of the dugout and tell them what they are supposed to do in the situation that's presented to them?

Glad to see Markakis speaking up some, and he's being the good teammate not naming names. But maybe he can be more vocal in the clubhouse too and light a fire under the guys that he won't name . . .

Doesn't take a genius to figure out that Wieters and Jones are the real targets of these comments. Wiggy and Scott are the only two guys aside from Markakis producing near or at expectations. Tejada, Lugo, and Atkins are fading fast. Izturis has never been a good hitter. Roberts and Pie have been hurt.

Jones obviously needs better pitch recognition, and Wieters needs to stop trying to pull everything and shorten up his swing. But more than that, both of them have huge power potential and should be looking for a pitch to drive on nearly every at-bat. They both look like they have no clue how to hit right now.

I'm a Markakis fan, but it's funny timing him calling out other guys when he couldn't put the ball in play with the tying run on third and one out in the eighth yesterday.

Amen brother. This is actually great to hear. In the absence of BRob, the O's are sorely lacking a leader. Nick's never been that type of guy, but it's great to see him step up. He is also completely justified in his criticisms. He has one of the best approaches at the plate in all of MLB, and it's sad to see that his teammates can't appreciate what he does and take note. Luke Scott is the only legitimate power threat in this lineup; the rest of these guys should be working the count, getting ahead in the count and looking to either walk or get a good pitch to hit. Instead, they continue to go up there and try to hit a home run on the second pitch of an at-bat. Just terrible, terrible baseball.

As far as Crowley, Nick has always been a huge supporter of the Crow, so I can't blame him now for sticking by him. He's saying what he needs to say and what he should say about his current boss. But I don't buy into his sentiment that guys have to change their approach on their own. In a well run organization, that's simply not true. You think Bobby Cox would stand for this? Absolutely not. Guys like Adam Jones would be given an ultimatum: either you work with the instructor and change your approach, or you're not playing for this team. The fact that Nick thinks this doesn't reflect upon the coaches shows you just how inept the coaching staff is. I really hope the O's are able to bring in a Showalter or a Valentine. Then maybe they'll learn how a MLB team operates.

But again, I'm with Nick and it's great to see him step up. And as always he's a class act. There's no way he could name names and still be respected in the clubhouse. He can't make it personal; that's not how union members operate. The guys he's talking about know who they are, and he put them on notice with these comments. If we had 9 guys like Nick Markakis, I'd feel good about our chances every day.

WOW, that was first. I mean, it's not good, but I'm glad Markakis finally came out and said something.

Nick pretty much sums it all up. You need power bats but you need guys who can get on base. For a guy with nearly a .400 OBP, he has all the right to feel this way.

Maybe if he demands to "fix this or trade me" it'll wake the front office up.

He's right about the direction of the club. And it should be obvious to everyone what the team's problem is: they have a good young core of players, but surround them with garbage veterans which in turn puts more pressure on the young guys to carry the team.

"Buy the bats" to MacFail means Garret Atkins and Julio Lugo?

Oh boy! Self-destruction in print. CAN'T WAIT!

Thank you Sunpapers for continuing to [mess] with the Orioles. Angelos could not have done it better.

I am glad to hear Markakis come out and say this. It is not the first time anyone has said this, but it is the first time I have heard anyone from the O's organization, or the MASN controlled press say this. He doesn't really have to name names, and I am glad that he didn't, but just him coming out and saying this SHOULD cause some changes. Certainly any player with an ounce of integrity is going to wonder about his own approach to the game. Let's just hope some of the guys that are woefully underproducing have enough integrity for self examination and change. Can you hear me Adam Jones! Oh Yeah, spit out the gum you look like a conceited high school jock out there.

Sounds like his finger is pointed at Adam Jones for one. Jones seems like he's clueless at the plate for the most part. Corey Patterson is probably another; he's had a reputation for being tough to coach.

Man - I would love to know who he is talking about. I really hope it is not one of the young guys but more on the lines of Lugo, Atkins etc...

About time someway on the O's seems to care. Of course I find it amazing that "The Hitting Coach" has no influence on how the team is hitting. Prior to that we were told it didn't matter who the manager was, because even the best manager would not win with this team. So why do they even have a hitting coach or a manager?

I like Markakis speaking up in fact i wish he did it more, hes probably the best player on the team and its good to see that hes not okay with whats going on. Will it change anything, probably not but its about time Markakis become the vocal leader of this team.

I don't really care who they bring in to manage this team. They will have the same problems until the front office protects these young hitters with quality veterans. I know that it's easy to say now that they've fallen flat on their faces. But I was never sold that Atkins would be any good for this team. Tejada is a decent addition but he shouldn't have been the crown jewel of their off season FA class. He should have been a piece that supported a big bat. Sometimes you have to grow the arms to trade them to fill a need. And the Orioles have the biggest need in the middle of their lineup. Maybe just maybe some of the young pitchers wouldn't be struggling as much if they knew that the lineup could score runs and they didn't have to pitch a perfect game to win. All of the young players have taken a step backwards. Confidence is a part of every sport and if they continue to lose it could effect them for the rest of their careers. They may never reach their potential. But lets continue to buy into McPhails "Plan". Obviously, it hasn't worked yet. Time to move on to Plan B. I keep reading some of the comments written on here by fans preaching patients. The city doesn't have anymore patients for this team. Especially when you have a winning franchise that's run the correct way residing in the stadium next door.

Good on ya Nick.
You are the Captain of this Team and it's time to take your place.

Patterson and Jones stand out based on these comments "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."

As for 'clueless' remark, Atkins, Wieters, Lugo, Izturis, Montanez, and maybe even Tejada at this point.

But I think he's probably referring to Corey and Adam. Any thoughts Jeff?

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Jeff Z's reply: As I've said in response to several comments, I don't think he is talking about one guy. You can go up and down the roster and pretty much everyone applies.

I am actually glad to see Markakis's frustration. It shows that he hates losing and he is only saying what most fans are thinking. PLus, he's right, some guys just have no clue at bat. He is also right about Crowley. As much as people want to blame Crowley, these guys are professionals and if they have not learned the strike zone or how to be selective by now, they are never going to learn. IMO, Crowley is there to fix physical flaws in swings, not one's approach. I think approach is developed before the pros. Take Corey Patterson. Since he came up to the big leagues, I imagine every coach he has ever had has told him to be more selective and to not swing at pitches outside of the zone. Many years later, he still can't do it. That is what concerns me about Jones and why I think long-term, Wieters and Reimold will still be fine.

Excellent comments by Nick - expecially this:

"At this point, yeah, where are we going?"

If the Orioles management lose Markakis interest in the future of this team it will be just a matter of time before he demabds to be traded.

Does Peter A. want Nick to demand to get off his team? I don't think so!

If I owned the Orioles I would trade every player on the current roster in exchange for four young pitchers who could throw strikes and change speed on the pitches.

Then I would call up the 8 best fielding players in the minor league system

Pitching and defense win baseball games -- not hitting.

Way to go Nick. WE all agree and it is great to see our most respected and successful player speak out. I understand not naming names but I hope this will get the attention of a few of those players.. I am praying for a trade for at least one of those 40-HR guys even if we have to give up a good young player to make it happen since we don't have that kind of bat in sight in the system.. NICK is one of our most veteren players and has the right to say so and he includes himself..

This is proof that these guys know who's dogging it...and they will administer as much clubhouse justice as they can...but it takes a respected and quality manager to set the tone. Some of these guys have completely given up....and who blames them if they are left floundering as individuals...the expereinced guys need to step up and help the young guys through this...but management needs to step up and put a plan in place that everyone can see and understand...not just make a bunch of speeches...we don't need the "Obama" approach to running our ballclub

Pay us 65 mil to hit 3 HR's and we can whine too. Look in the mirror buddy. You've become nothing more then a singles hitter and you're going to rip us?! Get lost punk.

Way to go Joe!! Yeah Hall!!!
-Focusing on the positives

Hey Nick, you mean the guy at the plate with guys on first and third and one out and down by one run. The guy up has to drive that run in and cannot strikout. Have a plan other
then striking out ? Yes, that would be you who failed to at least touch the ball to drive tie run in. Oh yeah, you included you, that makes everything alright...jeeze...as far as i am concerned the goat play of the game not driving in the run to tie there and the next day, you are calling people out.....already overpaid like the rest of them. SHAME ON YOU!

Finally! Someone's showing a little emotion. It's not a broken water cooler or a bashed bullpen phone but it's a start.

It's good to finally hear something from Markakis. I think sometimes I forget he is on the team.

The only thing I disagree, is that Crowley doesn't have an effect on their gameplan. Isn't that what hitting coaches get paid for?

Jeff: If it isn't Markakis' way to call people out, but, you agree with his statements, then, you do it. Put the pressure on by putting names in print - even if it is opinion - to bring the issue out into the public forum. Something different has to be done by someone.

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Jeff Z's reply: I appreciate the advice Dan, but with all due respect, who do you think he is talking about? He's talking about everybody. The whole approach of this team is awful. Naming names aren't necessary. I don't think he has one guy in mind. It's everybody.

I guess its good that he is taking more of a vocal role, if this is the start of that.

And, yes he is their only accomplished hitter.
But, he has zero power, and might be the worst clutch hitter I have ever seen.

Bases loaded no outs. 1st and 3rd 1 out. There is a reason he only has 21 RBI at this point.

Hard to throw stones when you live in a glass house.

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Jeff Z's reply: Power concerns are legitimate, but worst clutch hitter you've ever seen? Guy is a career .304 hitter with runners on base and is hitting .294 in his career with RISP. I

Well Mr. Markakis you are as much at fault as anyone on this team. You don't seem to be driving home any runs when there are men in scoring position as well as the rest. When there are runners in scoring position all I see you do is strike out on pitches that would hav been called "balls" if you hadn't swung. You strike out or you ground into a double play. So it is like the pot calling the kettle black.

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Jeff Z's reply: Not quite, Bob. Just for the sake of accuracy, Markakis entered Wednesday's game leading all O's regulars with a .291 averagewith RISP. Now, I know that isn't saying a whole lot and I think Nick needs to hit with more power and pull the ball more. But he's certianly not the prime culprit in the O's failures with RISP.

Jeff,
I look forward to the article. Nick voicing frustration is not good. He seems to go about his business and never get to high or too low. I respect his game, effort, and his patient approach at the plate. I disagree with his take on Terry Crowley. I absolutely think many players on the Orioles need to be " coached" before key at bats, and after failure to approach at bats properly. If not Terry Crowley who?

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Jeff Z's reply: That shouldn't be surprising though. Nick and Crow are very close. They have a father-and-son type relationship and Nick, along with several other Oriole hitters, love him. You're not going to hear much public grumbling about Crow from them.

Quizicat,

Do you really need names? OK, here is who he is talking about:

1. Jones
2. Atkins
3. Lugo
4. Izturis
5. Scott

Does that work for you?

A big part of batting is going up there, getting in good ABs and learning what a pitcher/catcher combo is gonna throw you in certain counts. But a good portion of the team is going up there and just swinging away. They aren't learning anything in doing so.

I was actually surprised that Markakis said it has nothing to do with Crowley. That's because I assumed he would have some influence in creating the team's hitting philosophy. The fact that he apparently has no input into something like that is shocking.

But I guess this is something we should be really stressing in the minors, so that when guys get up here, that approach is already in place. I wonder about Norfolk because is you look at Josh Bell's BB:K ratio from last year to this year, there is a big disparity. You can probably attribute some of that to it being a higher level, but I think the gap is just too wide.

And as always, I want the O's to obtain Kila Ka'aihue. So far this year he has 58 walks to 41 Ks. His OBP is .500. .500!!! That's with a .329 BA. Meaning he walks over 20% of the time. And he still has 11 HRs. He's blocked in KC by Billy Butler, who is 2 years younger than him. If I'm Andy, I'd be forgetting all about Jake Fox and going after Kila.


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Jeff Z's reply: I don't think he was saying that Crowley doesn't influece it. I think he was more pointing out that the O's hitters aren't carrying it out.

quizicat, i'd guess luke scott, adam jones, for starts.

I am glad to see Nick speak out. Someone has to. Maybe he has had enough and will become the vocal no nonsense taking leader we need in the clubhouse.

It's about time Nick said something. Given his contract and performance, HE has to be the one to take ownership of this team, to be the leader. He's the man, very happy to hear him speak up.

Terry Crowley is the "hitting" coach but if a player is NOT doing what the coaches and managers are asking then why does this player or players not being held accountable?

This is where a good manager and coach must take charge and it is obvious with these comments from Nick, they are not in charge.

MOST GUYS ON THE TEAM SWING AT THE FIRST PITCH. THEY HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO BE PATIENT. NO IDEA HOW TO HIT THE OTHER WAY.

Maybe this is a sign that Nick realizes that it's time for a player to be vocal and call out his teammates. In other words, to be a leader! God knows, we need one or two and he's positioned to do it. It would be great if he took on that burden.

Good for Nick! It's about time somebody stepped up and called out teammates.

Adam Jones is the biggest "no clue" culprit. I disagree about Luke Scott. He does seem to have a plan at the plate this year. He doesn't get the pitches to hit that he used to get, but he's still hitting .270 and is less streaky than he used to be and even goes the opposite way more than ever. Wieters looks overmatched at the plate. Patterson needs to help the team by hitting singles and bunting and stealing bases, not by swinging for the fences.

Jim

I would guess that Nick is talking about every player on the team who has an season OBP south of .330.

The frustrating part is Jones was so good last year he had such focus and it showed i really want to know where it went and when it is gonna come back cuz he isnt any dud

Wow maybe somebody does have some life on the team. I was beginning to think none of them cared if they won or lost.

It's admirable that he would try to deflect blame from the coaching staff, but really if guys are going to the plate "clueless" isn't that the coaching staff's responsibility? If this is all really just up to the players why do teams even bother having coaches, and why do the coaches get paid so much money. I was under the assumption that it was to correct things like this and improve what players would be able to accomplish on their own.

Somebody needs to ask Andy MacPhail about the fact that his biggest contract young player and one of the top managerial candidates have both now made comments within the last week implying they have no idea what the Orioles' plan is nor do they have much faith in it. Valentine said it after sitting down 1 on 1 with both MacPhail and Angelos to discuss the direction of the team, and Markakis is supposed to be one of our leaders.

Andy- why is it that these important and knowledgable people would indicate that they don't see any "plan" in place, nor do they necessarily believe it's going to turn the team around? Does the fact that your players are "clueless" at the plate, by their own description, impugn your decision to stick by your coaching staff for the past few years as your prized younger players have come up?

Maybe if there was someone around him the pitchers had to worry about, he might see some better pitches to drive. Remember how Cal Ripkin's average dropped off when Eddie Murray left town? Babe Ruth would have a hard time hitting with no help around him.

Look in a mirror before you start criticizing the "other guys" for not having an approach. What has been his approach when he has consistently popped up or struck out with RISP? Markakis signed an big $$$ extension last year to lead this team and he has failed.

How about this folks, you get what you pay for. Get used to it because as long as Peter Angelos owns this team we can expect more of this nonsense. For god sake Peter sell the team and put this town out of its misery, please I am begging of you.

If Nick wants to be the leader of this team, then he needs to act like it on the field. Him coming out now and saying some general comments that we all know already isn't enough. When you look at teams in any sport, you can generally agree who the leaders of that team are. With the Orioles, who is it? I don't think it's Nick. He hasn't shown that he's the leader of this team on the field to this point. I think that's a problem with this team in general is the lack of leadership overall. We need a personality in the club house who can make everyone else shut up and listen when he talks. Nicks not that guy.

Thank God, Nick had the guts to say what he said. It's been long overdo and he's absolutely right. The worst phrase in baseball is someone saying, "I was trying to hit the ball HARD." I don't care how hard you hit the ball as long as you DO YOU JOB of advancing the runners on base. How many times have you seen a batter try to hit behind a runner? How many times do you see a player take an upright swing with a runner on 3rd to get in a run. Look at Wiggy the other night with runners on base and the team playing back, he DID HIS JOB by fighting off a pitch to hit the ball where the runner at 3rd could score. EVERYONE seems to trying to hit a ball in the gap or out of the park. They DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT APPROACH, especially with runners on base. I hope his comments open some of these guys eyes, but I doubt it. And, that's said to say because the guys who DO THEIR JOB, don't get paid the big bucks.

I'm glad Nicky is speaking out finally. I also agree with Cameron that he is getting tired of being connected to 2110 Eutaw St. I think he is mainly frustrated with Jones, Atkins, Lugo (what a waste he is) & Scott. I find it hard to believe he is referring to Patterson , as he is hitting very well in lead off, he is stealing and then double stealing, he hustles for the ball in the outfield and isn't afraid to get himself a little dirty either. HE's made some fantastic plays, and he doesn't mind bunting either. I enjoy watching him play, so I don't think Nicky is referring to him. Wiggy is in a funk right now, I only wish he would stop chopping at the ball. Anyway, it is good to hear an Oriole voice, even though it is a frustrating one. I also agree, that maybe if he threatened Peter the Great to get serious as to the direction the club is going or ask to be traded, they may finally listen. I am surprised that Millwood hasn't asked to be traded. My understanding is that Nicky is a fav. of Angelos as well as Roberts , and doesn't want to lose him.

Appears he stops himself from what he really wanted to say and that is Andy MacPhail has been a big failure.
The buck stops at the FO for a lack of a real "plan." Neither MacPhail nor Angelos has a clue. Better players is the answer.

Thank you, Nick, for speaking up....too many of us "small people" known as fans have been painfully aware of this teams limitations and it is a relief that a key player would finally speak up.

I disagree with the list posted by Mesotheliangelos. I'd keep Jones, Atkins, and Scott on the list as players who don't seem to learn from their failures, but Lugo and Izturis seem to be doing the best they can with the talents they have. And in fact, they seem to be more reilable in getting on base than some of our "star" players.

Jones should stay on the list because he has a lot of natural talent but doesn't seem to be open to "coaching" either in the field or at bat. He needs to become a little bit more open to improving his skills if he is ever to achieve what he might.

Scott seems to think he is hear only to hit home runs and to drive in runs. During one interview, he didn't even know he was on a 5-game hitting streak, because the hits were only singles. He should stop trying to launch homers and start just hitting more line drives -- he should be focused on getting hits and advancing runners.

I don't have much to say about Atkins. His batting average has been going down for years. I don't know if has lost his stroke, he can't see the ball fast enough, he doesn't know how to outthink the pitcher, or how to look for pitches. At this point, he just looks done at the major league level.

I'd add Wieters to the list. He seems helpless at the plate. It would be nice if a pitcher like Kevin Millwood would sit down with him and use some of Wieter's hitting videos to show him how pitchers are getting him out over the course of a game. For now, he is useless at the plate and it can only be hurting his confidence.

And finally, I wonder if Nick had a chance to talk with Aubrey Huff during the San Francisco series and found out how playing major league baseball can actually be fun. Huff is doing very well with the Giants (he might be their MVP) and is probably very glad he has managed to escape a floundering club and be playing for a contender.

I listened to the Giants TV announcers during the 3 games and Krukow had nothing but praise about Markakis. I wouldn't be surprised if the Giants inquire about his availabilty. If they have some younger middle infielders that can hit, maybe we should listen. I would rather that they take Jones, but I doubt the Giants will want him.

Some quotes that resonated with me from Nick's rant:

"You can't say guys aren't trying. Guys are busting their butts."

Really? Raise your hand if you think the O's from top to bottom are "busting their butts". Nick probably is, Wigginton probably is.....Matusz, Arrieta, and a couple other pitchers....but that's about it. Our CF doesn't seem to even be practicing shagging flies.

"I just don't think they have the right approach going up there. It's like, 'see ball, hit ball.' "

See ball, hit ball. Grunt grunt.

This is EXACTLY why I can't stand Tejada and hitters of his ilk.

On a larger scale, this team has had *serious* plate discipline issues dating back to 1998/1999. Sure, they've had some years where they got it done offensively despite themselves, but overall this team has not exactly been the poster children for patience and pitch recognition. Even when they were producing, they routinely cost themselves more runs by having poor approaches at the plate.

So...different players, different managers, different prospects, different managers/coaches at the minor league level, but the same lack of plate discipline.

What's the common denominator here?

I wonder???

do we finally have a leader on the team? let's hope. PLEASE don't trade Wiggy now. Kakes is going to need a wingman.

Jeff,

Wanted to know if you received these quotes earlier in the week, why wait till Thursday to publish them? Not a criticism, just a journalistic question, regarding if you had to wait to get quotes from Samuel, Wigginton, and Huff after Markakis made the statements..

Furthermore, without naming names or specific instances, generally speaking, have players off the record indicated this same sentiment to you before? And is this the first time that an Oriole has agreed to put his comments on the record?

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Jeff Z's reply: The West Coast games make it very tough to get stuff in the paper immediately. So while I may have interviewed him before Tuesday's game, I needed some time to both talk to other players along with transcribe the interview and write the story. I wasn't going to be able to turn it around to get it in Wednesday's paper. And I figured once we got to Wednesday, why not wait to Thursday where there is no game and the story would get more run and news space because it's an offday. Since it was a 1-on-1 interview, I wasn't worried about rushing it into paper right away. As for your other question, there are some frustrated players in there that grumble a little bit off the record but that would hold true of any team that is 30 games under .500 in mid June. My goal was not to get Markakis to crack and sound off on teammates when I approached him. I was actually questioning him about another story I was working on and that's what the interview morphed into.

It's good to hear an O's player show some real passion and vent some frustration about the team play. "We are all bad right now" says it all and points fingers at everyone. The specific players know who they are. The question now is: will this help or hurt in the clubhouse. Honestly, this offense has been playing like zombies for so long, I have to think that shaking things up might stir a few folks to life.

Jeff,

Thanks for the response. That was great. Keep up the awesome reporting. You are by far one the best baseball beat writers in the biz.

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Jeff Z's reply: Thanks Max, much appreciated.

I wonder if Nick is looking at Brian Roberts' situation and realizing that this could be him at the end of his contract? He could be facing an injury that, let's face it, could threaten a career, having never played on a winning team much less in the playoffs. Roberts is a stand-up guy, but it has to be eating away at him that he could retire and never have played on a team that sniffed 82 wins. I'm sure Markakis doesn't want to see his career take the same path.

No player produces with runners on base everytime, so cut Nick some slack. Every team that plays the O's goes into the series saying don't let Markakis beat us, so the fact that he does hit almost .300 with RISP says how good he is.

I don't understand players who have records of failure at critical time in games calling someone else out. I don't think Nick has a leg to stand on based on his overall performance. Check his average with RISP and see if you agree.

Now, that being said, I must admit that the O's are pitiful at the plate. Yes Jones and Wieters are clueless. I place this problem smack dab on Crowley in that he is not preparing these people from a hitting coach point of view. He should have detailed research on the opposing pitcher and a plan to attack him. It is beyond me why the guy who has been here through 13 losing seasons is still directing our hitting. Someone ids brain dead in that FO.

Like any player who's shown a glimmer of talent for this team lately, Markakis is overrated. That, of course, is not his fault.

Markakis was given daily playing time at a young age, and produced solid numbers. But in years past, those numbers were quite often accumulated when the Orioles were way behind, or sometimes, when way ahead, in games. This year, with an improved pitching staff and a horrible offense, many games have actually been close.

Rather than see a "runners in scoring position" stat, I'd like to see a "runners in scoring position with the game hanging in the balance" stat. I don't think Markakis has learned to calm his emotions and produce in those situations yet.

And concerning his Crowley comments. Sure, a hitting coach doesn't matter if players won't listen anyway. But doesn't that also speak to the selfishness of the team? (Crowley will be gone once the new manager arrives., staff in tow.)

As to the most egregious offender, its gotta be Adam Jones. Whether its fielding or hitting or running, he's way too concerned with how he looks doing it than what he's actually doing. Blowing bubbles is absurd. Listen to a coach, son, or at least your mother.

THANK YOU Nick for speaking out but I find myself questioning why Samuel isn't all over some of these guys, unless he admits to being a lame duck unwilling or unable to find the fire to get in some players faces and lay down a few laws and make them stick..

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Juan is not going to admit that he's a lame duck nor should he. But do you think there is anybody out there, him included, that thinks he's getting this job?

Juan's only chance to keep his job is if the team turns things around in a major way. Remember, the Orioles of late have the nasty habit of playing worse in the second half of the season (particularly August and September) than in the first half. If the team somehow plays 10 games over .500 after the break, and doesn't sink further before the break, Juan will have an argument in his favor. Whether it's enough would be up to Andy.

Of course, to have a shot at that, the offensive approach of every other hitter will have to become more like Nick's, so the team can score enough runs to win games (even slugfests occasionally.) Watching the O's offense is like watching a soccer game - three runs is an offensive explosion.

And Crowley has to go. He's had over a decade to instill a disciplined approach at the plate, and hasn't.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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