Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Markakis, MacPhail and The Art of the Deal...

Keith Van Valkenburg of the Sun via his blog, "The Life of Kings", gives us another viewpoint concerning the way Andy MacPhail does business and his attempt to sign Nick Markakis to a long-term deal.

We all know MacPhail can be deliberate, methodical, intrepid and yet -- that word, again ... slow -- however, I'd prefer this approach at times rather than the quick, let-get-it-done and without covering all the bases way of thinking.

However, if you're Nick Markakis, you're probably saying, "why can't I get what's mine..."

Well, I'll go into what Van Valkenburg says about Markakis and his anticipation of a deal:

While it's true that the Orioles have plenty of leverage right now, the longer the team waits, the more valuable Markakis becomes. Literally, each day that passes is a day his value goes up. Maybe it's by $100, maybe it's $100,000, but the point is, he isn't getting less expensive the longer you wait. This is a stock that's only going to climb in value over the next 10 years. The fact that the two sides say negotiations are moving very slowly suggests, to me, that they are light years apart and that the Orioles haven't yet decided to get realistic about Markakis' value. When Tampa Bay locked in Longoria for six years at $17 million plus a number of option years even though he'd only played six major league games, it suddenly became the smartest deal in baseball.

The player gets financial security and peace of mind, and the team gets a gigantic bargain later in the contract when the player is playing for half of what he's worth on the open market. Fausto Carmona, Robinson Cano and Jake Peavy signed similar deals before they became arbitration eligible. Conventional thinking in baseball has changed. The rules might allow teams to pay their young stars the league minimum, but that doesn't make it wise.

Markakis got married last year and plans to make his home in Baltimore year-round. Right now is exactly the time in his life when he wants to make certain his family will be taken care of forever. He's not going to starve on half a million a year, but also might not be able to buy that dream house he wants just yet for his family (putting down permanent roots in Baltimore). And while that might seem, to most of us, like an absurd thing to worry about in this economic climate, it might tick off a professional athlete who has already proven he's one of the best in the league. The first $25 million matters a lot more than the next $25 million. If nothing else, it gives him immediate peace of mind and lets him go into spring training without a single distraction.
I'll never understand where the principals are coming from -- I'm just a fan, with a decent job and limited athletic talent -- and it drives me wild to hear billionaires, millionaires, and soon to be millionaires squabble and whine over money along with contracts. At this point, MacPhail is doing his job and trying to build the team in his own image; meanwhile, Markakis wants to get paid and have some financial security.

I'm an advocate of giving Nick Markakis a deal sooner, rather than later -- not because I'm feeling sorry for or want him to be secure -- because he's shown himself to be one of the best right fielders in baseball, and he may not have reached the top of his athletic ceiling.

He's now established as a cornerstone of the franchise, he's young, plus wants to be with the organization, so let's just have him content and focused only on baseball now.

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