by Matthew Taylor
Baseball has always been a numbers game, even more so in recent years with the advent of Moneyball and additional, detailed empirical measures of player performance. Nevertheless, symbols still matter to the sport. On both counts, the Orioles came up big when they extended Nick Markakis' contract.
Depending on your perspective, Markakis' performance to this point speaks to either a star in the making or a star who's already been made but not fully recognized. He'll be putting up good numbers - conventional measures and new formulas alike - for years to come. Thankfully he'll be doing so in Orange and Black.
On the symbolic side, the Orioles gave fans a positive counterbalance to the image of Mike Mussina leaving for New York, a long-held symbol of the organization's inability to ante up in a timely fashion and retain homegrown talent. No one wants to think of their team as a farm system for the big money clubs; keeping Markakis in the fold challenges that thinking for Bird loyalists.
Here are some notable quotes on the recent activity at the Warehouse, including the Pie and Bierd deals.
O's extend Markakis; rightfielder can now purchase glove made of gold
"Every dollar that he gets, I think he deserves it. The guy puts up numbers. He's a great defensive player, great in the clubhouse. I'm happy that the Orioles locked him up. He just got married, has a baby on the way. I'm happy as hell for him."
"This had to be done if you ask me, and kudos to the front office for getting it done. If you're looking long-term, he's the key cog. He's proved his worth. It's a step in the right direction, a commitment. It's no secret we're playing in a tough division. If you're going to compete, you have to make the right moves. That was one of the smartest moves they've made since I've been here."
"It's good to see a team take the unused money they had earmarked for a special free agent, who ultimately signed elsewhere, and use it in another productive way.
The Orioles will probably never acknowledge whether Mark Teixeira's spurning their offer for the Yankees' allowed them to reach agreement with Markakis -- or put another way, whether the hypothetical signing of Teixeira would have precluded the Markakis deal -- but mid-market teams like the Orioles have to make hard choices."
-Dave Sheinin, The Washington Post
-Steve DeClue, Baltimore Examiner
Garrett Olson traded for Felix Pie, witty headlines follow
"I had the opportunity to play every day in the minors, and everybody knew me in the minors. In the big leagues, it was a little different. It was up and down and up and down, and I didn't get a chance to show people that I can play every day and I can be a superstar. Now, I can show everybody what they are getting from me."
"He's going to be with us all year. Our guys think he'll be able to make the adjustments. It stays with our trying to get younger and more athletic ... and putting more emphasis on defense in the outfield. I can't imagine there is a better defensive outfield in the game when we have Adam, Felix and Nick out there."
"I'd like to play the outfield, to tell you the truth, but if I was DH'ing a few days a week, it wouldn't be bad. I always say, whatever they want me to do, I'll do my best at it."
"I don't believe Felix Pie failed during his time with the Cubs. I believe the Cubs failed him. Pie wasn't a creation of media hype. He was a legitimate prospect. He was a six-tool player -- glove, speed, arm, power, stroke and attitude -- and he should have become a fixture at Wrigley Field, patrolling center field for the next decade. But now he's gone, swapped for a couple of undistinguished pitchers, and that's a darn shame.
You don't find a kid in the Dominican Republic, sign him as a 16-year-old, nurture him through his teenage years, watch him light up the minor leagues at every level, then jerk him around for two years and dump him. It makes no sense on any level -- personal or business.
In case you've forgotten, Pie was a winner. He won four championship rings in the minors, and you can make light of that if you want, but I believe it was indicative of his heart. He was an exuberant, confident, aggressive player before the Cubs sucked the life out of him. Many have compared him to Corey Patterson. But unlike Patterson, Pie never was given a legitimate chance to win the center-field job."
-Carol Slezak, Chicago Sun-Times
"But this is serious business. It's just another reason the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 or even been in one since 1945.
The likes of Gary Scott and Kevin Orie were a laughing matter when they fizzled.
But now the likes of Felix Pie and Corey Patterson are more a crying shame.
Pie - once the alleged next Willie, Mickey and the Duke all in one - was traded to Baltimore on Sunday.
That would be OK if the return was someone like Brian Roberts, the dynamite leadoff man/second baseman/energizer bunny the Cubs need.
Instead, all Pie could bring in return were a left-handed pitcher who had a 6.65 ERA last season and a right-hander who was in the low minor leagues."
O's deal short-timer Randor Bierd, Roar from 34 Mourns
"The winner and loser of this trade won't be determined until the players take the field, but it was good move for The Birds in that they acquired a need, starting pitching, while getting rid of a surplus, relief pitching.
Then again, if Bierd recovers from injuries he suffered last year and becomes the next Rollie Fingers, we could be talking about this trade for decades."
-Jay Trucker, The Baltimore Examiner
"It might not be an earth-shattering deal, but the Sox did add another non-roster right handed reliever."
-Amalie Benjamin, Boston Globe
“It was great being with the Red Sox and getting the exposure and experience playing for them. I couldn’t have picked a better team to break in with. This is just another step in my career. This is an opportunity for me to get some more playing time and possibly have a starter’s role, where I’m starting on a consistent basis.”
"First of all, I'd like to suggest that David Pauley be known in Baltimore as Pauley-Walnuts."