(Mariner pitching coach Carl Willis talks to Erik Bedard during the Rays’ six-run second inning on Friday night. Photo by Associated Press).
Erik Bedard certainly didn’t do the Mariners any favors with his poor outing Friday in his first start off the disabled list, and his last start before Sunday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
But I don’t believe he did irreparable damage to his value. From what I can gather, there is still a pretty good chance Bedard will be traded. But the Mariners may not be able to pry loose quite the same package of prospects as they would have if Bedard had gone out and cruised against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Here’s the good news, however: His stuff was good. He hit 94 a couple of times on the gun, broke off a few sharp curves. His knee held up, as far as anyone could tell. Bedard simply did not have much command, which is not too surprising considering he hadn’t pitched in game conditions in a month. Remember, his first couple of outings this year, following a year’s layoff, weren’t sharp, either. After four starts, Bedard was 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA. But once he got into a groove, he was among the best pitchers in the league, going 4-2 with a 1.77 ERA over his next 11 starts before hurting his knee. Theoretically, it shouldn’t take Bedard as long this time to regain his sharpness, because the absence was one month, not a year and a half.
The issues dogging Bedard were already in place before this start: His propensity for injuries, and a reputation as a guy who doesn’t like the spotlight. Here is former Orioles executive Jim Duquette with a pretty harsh assessment of Bedard in the Boston Herald as it relates to the latter. A snippet from Duquette, now an analyst with the MLB Network: “He doesn’t like the attention. When he’s the guy, he doesn’t succeed. And I always thought, because he didn’t want to be the guy, that it would hold him back. I thought he’d be a real solid No. 3 (starter), maybe in a small market. But it would concern me going into a big market. After I left the Orioles, I even tried to dissuade a couple of big-market clubs that were interested in him. If the price tag was inexpensive enough, it’s something you might consider. But you have to do your homework.”
After tonight’s ragged Bedard start, WEEI in Boston blogged that teams are still on him. Bedard is still an enticing arm in a market that doesn’t have many of them. The Bedard who dominated the American League for nearly two months in May and June could be a difference-maker in a pennant race to a team like the Red Sox or Yankees (or several others). Teams have to decide by 1 p.m. Sunday if they believe he’s capable of getting back to that stature — and how much they’re willing to give up to find out. The Mariners, in turn, have to decide if the return is worth parting with the pitcher who played a big part in making them respectable, and whose absence coincided with their collapse.
The frustrating part is that if Bedard hadn’t gotten hurt and missed a month, the bidding war for his services would have been immense. But there’s nothing anyone can do about that now. Poor outing or not, the arguments for keeping Bedard aren’t very strong when the team is sitting 15 games out of first. Jack Zduriencik needs to strike the best deal he can — which won’t be as good as it could have been.