Tag Archives: Erik Bedard

Remembering Erik Bedard

As the Mariners got stomped by the Astros last night, I ended up in a discussion with the other Good Guys about Erik Bedard.  Bedard is, of course, a former Mariner and as such, the cause of much disdain.  He is now a member of the Astros and was last night’s starting pitcher.

Bedard is not well-liked by Mariners fans.  I personally always liked him, but I can certainly see his shortcomings.  He was divisive and frustrating at his best.  The argument against generally centers on four points:

  1. He was the object of a now horrific trade, where the Mariners gave up Adam Jones and more for Bedard before the 2008 season.
  2. He was constantly injured, losing large chunks of every season he played in Seattle.
  3. His dealings with the media were short and brusque, often given in one word answers. He often came across as a smug, rude jerk.
  4. He obtained a reputation of being unable to pitch deep into games, which, combined with the injuries, led to a reputation of frailty and disinterest.

The first point is indisputable but completely out of Bedard’s control.  The trade was not well liked at the time, but it would have been okay had Bedard stayed on the field. He was a legitimately excellent pitcher when he was on the mound.  Unfortunately, that rarely happened.  He was hurt early and often, missing time in each of the four seasons he spent in Seattle.

With most former players, an injury history like that would be the main memory, but judging by Twitter and blog comments during last night’s game, points three and four above have had a more lasting impression.  The issues with the media were real. He seemed unwilling to speak at any length, especially in response to questions he deemed unnecessary.  It’s understandable if fans were turned off by that.  It personally never bothered me, and I doubt it would have made much impact if he had been good on the field.  For what it’s worth, he was never considered or rumored to be a bad teammate.  Watching him in the dugout, he seemed like a good guy who was liked by his teammates.  That’s hardly conclusive data, but it’s something that runs extremely contrary to the popular narrative.  He also signed with the Mariners for virtually nothing after his first two years, out of loyalty for the way they stood by him during his first two injury-plagued years. Dealing with the media was not his strong suit, but he appeared to be far from a bad guy or a clubhouse cancer.

The reputation for not lasting deep in games is a little more difficult to wade through.  From what I remember, the reputation came from an inability to get through seven innings early in his Mariners career, combined with some comments he made saying that he was essentially a 100-pitch pitcher.  I’m going off memory here, so I apologize if I’m off slightly.  In my memory, the comments were more nuanced than simply saying he could only throw 100 pitches per start.  I remember him saying that he was at his best for 100 pitches, not that he would only throw 100.

Incidentally, this is true for nearly every pitcher in the history of baseball. Hardly anyone is especially good after 90-100 pitches.  A good rule of thumb is that once a pitcher reaches that range or faces the line-up for a fourth time that day, it’s probably time to think about getting him out of there.  There are exceptions, of course, but Bedard was just saying what is universally true. Incidentally, other than a couple of starts where he left early for injury or ineffectiveness, Bedard threw 6-8 innings in most starts that first year. He threw about the same innings as anyone else.

What Bedard did was put his limitations into words, and that’s not something we want out of our athletes.  However unspoken or unrecognized, there’s a level of hero worship with our favorite athletes.  We expect them to do what we can’t, and for good reason. Professional and college athletes can do ridiculous things. The worst player at any point in any of the major sports leagues is one of the greatest athletes to ever walk the earth. I was a moderately decent high school baseball player, but I would have no more luck pitching or hitting against a major leaguer than would my two-year-old nephew. Their talent is so far above anything we can imagine, we expect consistent greatness and lose touch with the limits of their ability.

We want our athletes to go to places we can’t reach. We don’t want to see them ever give up. We know that playing through an injury might actually hurt the team, but we still want to see them out there until their bodies actually prevent them from playing. We don’t want to see a pitcher leave the game until he’s failed.  There’s something noble in giving until there’s nothing left, in leaving only when failure of the body commands it.  It may not be smart, but it resonates with those of us who would have given up days ago.

Erik Bedard knew his limitations, and in many ways he was likely smarter for recognizing and dealing with them.  His problem, as it often was for Bedard, was in letting the rest of us in on the secret.  Communication was never his strong suit.  Pitching was, but since his body never let him do that, a promising career ended as nothing but disappointment.

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A few Mariners notes after the jump! Continue reading

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The Deadline in Review

The trade deadline has come and gone and the Mariners were very active.  In case the folks reading this blog haven’t got enough of a fill on reading about the trades, or actually wanted to know our opinions, here’s one more review.  I’ll get right down to it, as straight forward as possible.  (If you want more, all the Mariner websites have some sort of reveiw.  Here’s Lookout Landing’s.  Here’s USS Mariner.  SSI has several posts about the new prospects.)

Trade #1:  What We Lost:

Doug Fister – Of the three players we’ve lost, Fister is probably the most valuable.  The most talented?  I would say no, but he is the most valuable because he is cheap and under team control for several more years.  Fister doesn’t have the best stuff and that gave him the ‘over-achiever’ label.  What he did have was excellent control and the ability to take advantage of good defenses put behind him.  Fister was always intriguing and I always enjoyed him more than Jason Vargas, just because he didn’t have plus stuff to get people out but still held down the number 3 spot in the rotation and was very successful.  Fister could be successful for a long time, I hope he is, or his lack of dominant stuff might catch up to him.  Time will tell, but he served the Mariners well in his 2 years with the big league club.

David Pauley – David Pauley was a solid reliever for most of the year for the M’s.  With that being said, he wasn’t part of the teams future and isn’t much to write home about.  He’ll provide some bullpen help for the Tigers and that was why he was a part of this deal.

What We Got Back:

Casper Wells – Casper Wells is a 26 year old corner outfielder who came up to the Tigers’ big league club last Summer.  In his debut year his OPS was at .901 in 93 at-bats.  This year his OPS is .765 in 117 at-bats. He’s hit 8 home runs in 210 at-bats in the big leagues but has shown good power in the minors.  He is primarily a corner outfielder but can also play center.  His defense will be average in center (maybe a little better) and plus in one of the corner spots.  He was a 4th outfielder in Detroit because they were in a pennant race but he’ll be the starting left fielder here for the remainder of the season.  He could into a a little better than league average outfielder.  At the very least, I think he’ll be a good 4th outfielder.  At the most, the Mariners may have found their left fielder for the next couple years.

Charlie Furbush – I’ll refrain from any Furbush for Fister jokes…. Charlie Furbush is a left-handed pitcher who is being utilized in the bullpen at the moment.  His fastball is 90-92.  He also has a decent slider and throws a change-up.  He has a deceptive delivery which has drawn comparisons to George Sherril. While he is in the bullpen right now, he will eventually see time in the starting rotation.  Furbush’s ceiling is a number 3 starter.  He’s 25 and has played in AAA and with the Tigers this year.

Francisco Martinez – Francisco is a 20 year old who has already made his way to AA.  He has drawn a lot of comparisons to Carlos Triunfel, which I don’t think is very fair.  Triunfel is a 21 year old who is AA but arrived there when he’s 19.  He was injured, fell off many people’s radar and is still in AA (but he’s putting up decent numbers and is still young).  I think it’s an unfair comparison because they speak of Triunfel like he’s a disappointment.  He’s not yet.  Martinez has been in AA for 2 years and has been solid but not spectacular in those stints.  This year he is hitting .282 with seven home runs in the league this year.  He projects to have solid power but so far his plate discipline isn’t great (that’s where the Triunfel comparison comes from).  Francisco could make it to the majors in the next couple years.  He was the 4th ranked prospect in the Tigers system by a few people, which is pretty exciting.

PTBNL – Cool name, huh?  This player will be one the Tigers’ top 2010 draft picks.  We won’t find out who it is until August 20th.  It should be a good prospect though.

Overview of deal:  Losing Fister is a big deal.  He could have been a mainstay in the rotation for a long time.  But, this isn’t like losing a Felix or Pineda.  Fister won’t ever be an ace.  Losing Pauley is not big deal at all.  With these things in mind, I love the return the Mariners got.  Of course, evaluating trades isn’t fair until a couple of years down the road but at worst the Mariners got back a good 4th outfielder, a good lefty reliever, and two interesting prospects.  At best they got back a starting left fielder who will hit 15-20 home runs, a number 3 or 4 starter, a third baseman with some power, and something else.  I like that upside, but I also like the practicality.  Even if things don’t break right we’ll get something out of this deal.

Deal #2 What We Lost:

Erik Bedard – I love Erik Bedard.  He’s the type of pitcher I could watch for days.  He thinks while he pitches and is crafty.  He’s has all kinds of talent and, when healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers’ in the league.  With that being said, I didn’t know how much trade value he had because of how often he is injured.  I’ll miss Erik but dealing him was a no-brainer because he was going to be a free agent and there was no need for him to be here.

Josh Fields – Josh Fields was a former first-round draft pick who is bad.  Really bad.  I don’t know why the Red Sox wanted him.  Maybe someday he’ll put it all together and not walk every other batter but we didn’t lose anything to be worried about there.

What We Got:

Trayvon Robinson – Trayvon came to us via the Dodgers.  He’s a 24 year old who’s been playing for LA’s AAA affiliate in Albuquerque, which is a hitter’s park to put it lightly.  This discredits some of the 26 home runs Robinson has hit this year.  But, it doesn’t discredit them the way many people on the blogosphere are.  He hit 12 of those home runs on the road and Robinson still would be hitting home runs even if he wasn’t in a dumb park.  He swings and misses a lot, but still can take a walk.  Robinson is a center-fielder with a lot of speed.  SSI compared him today to Curtis Granderson and you can see the similarities in their swings.  Trayvon could be a September call-up.  I’m looking forward to watching him play and he could push Guti out of the door.

Chih-Hsien Chiang – Awesome name.  This guy is another outfielder, although he plays in a corner position.  Chiang is 23 and is absolutely killing AA pitching.  He has a 1.046 OPS right now in his second go around in AA.  He has 58 extra base hits on the year and will move up to AAA soon, I imagine.  He doesn’t have a lot to prove in AA anymore.

Overview:  This trade is great.  2 months of Erik Bedard in a lost season or a top-5 organizational talent along with another interesting prospect.  These guys may not work out, but Pete Carrol would be proud of the way Jack Z has built a competition for an outfield position.

All in all, it’s been a great deadline for the Mariners.  Even with all the bad luck the team has had, you have to think that one of these guys in the outfield competition will turn out.

The team has also won the battle for the coolest names dealing Doug, David, Erik and Josh for Casper, Charlie (Furbush), Francisco, Trayvon and Chih-Hsien.  That doesn’t even take into account PTBNL.  That name doesn’t even have any vowels in it.  There’s a chance the player they acquire may be named Chance.  But, if I was Jack Z, I’d just stick with this PTBNL guy if he’s focusing on coolest names.

I know it’s tough to be a Mariners fan right now but Jack Z has done a good job, he’s just run into a city full of bad luck.  I’m sure he wouldn’t use that as an excuse but the guy knows what he’s doing.  By acquiring all of these outfielders, I think he’s starting to try to make his own luck.

Andrew

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Ranking Your 2011 Mariners

The big news today is basketball related, with Isaiah Thomas announcing, rather unexpectedly, that he will indeed forgo his senior season at UW. He’s off to the NBA, which sucks for Husky fans. Time will tell whether this is a wise decision by IT, but I’m happy for him. Next year’s expectations will be lower now, and it could very well be our last year watching Terrence Ross, but the team should still be good, and contend for the conference yet again.

With that news, I’m officially closing basketball talk on the blog, until at least the draft in June. Why? Because today is opening day! As Andrew noted, things have been dry on here lately, but nothing like some M’s baseball to stir conversation. In case you have not heard, the 25 man roster is official. Looking over the team last night, I started ranking guys in my mind, and that’s what this post is all about. In addition to ranking the 25 man roster, in terms of most valuable to the team in 2011, I’m also throwing 3 more guys into the conversation: Ackley, Gutierrez, and Aardsma. The latter two are on the DL, and Ackley will probably be up sometime in June, so they belong on this list too.

    Ranking the Roster (Most Valuable to Least Valuable)

1- Felix Hernandez—He is the King of Seattle, and the best pitcher on planet Earth. Yes, Felix is the Mariners’ most valuable player. Go away trade rumors!
2- Ichiro—The team’s best hitter and most valuable everyday player. Also, the coolest Mariner ever.
3- Justin Smoak—I want to fall in love with Justin Smoak, and so does this city, but he has a lot to prove. IMHO, this guy is the lynchpin to the M’s offense in 2011.
4- Franklin Gutierrez—I fear for Guti’s long-term health with every day that passes without an explanation, but assuming this mystery stomach ailment gets treated, Guti is the team’s best defender, and a top 5 hitter, a valuable asset indeed.
5- Milton Bradley—Depending on which Milton shows up, batting 3rd, Bradley could easily lead the team in production this year. But can he stay healthy AND out of trouble? I wouldn’t bet on it.
6- Erik Bedard—Hard to argue that a guy who did not pitch last year could hold much value, but IF healthy, Bedard provides huge value to this team. And IF his spring performance is an indicator of what’s to come, his worth is as high as a #2 starter.
7- Chone Figgins—This guy had better bounce back, and I expect he will now that he’s back at 3rd and settled into Seattle. The M’s should be annoying to play, and Figgy leads that annoyance.
8- Jason Vargas—I still don’t think of Jason Vargas as a #2 starter, but he earned this spot after last season. Can he provide an encore?
9- Jack Cust—Batting clean-up for your Seattle Mariners…Jack Cust. Really? You better believe it! He will strike out a ton, but I gotta think he is an upgrade at DH, and he is an awesome interview.
10- Miguel Olivo—The team’s main acquisition this winter, Miguel can’t be worse than our catchers last season, but he must improve on his first go around in Seattle if he is to win over the fans. Continue reading

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Beating The Odds, Part 2

As Dan mentioned in his post earlier today, spring has sprung on the 2011 baseball season.  The Mariners started training camp on Sunday, and we already have stories about Erik Bedard’s loyalty, Felix’s hair, and the return of Ken Griffey Jr.  Not bad for three days.

Not many people expect the Mariners to do much this year.  A .500 record would be a huge accomplishment, and that still might only get them last place in the division.  Luckily, the great thing about spring, and baseball in general, is that it’s easy to dream of everything going right.  Baseball players can be so unpredictable that there is always room to see playoffs in the future.  Does that hold true with a Mariner team that was worst in the league last year and lost two of its best hitters without adding any certain impact players?  Of course it does.

What if Erik Bedard is healthy all season?  He could be the second best starter in the league after his teammate Felix.  And what if Michael Pineda joins the team early and dominates the whole year?  Fister and Vargas might match their early season form from last year, or someone else might surprise, and suddenly the Mariners have one of the best rotations in the league.  It could happen. Continue reading

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Mariners Make First Moves

The Seattle Times and others are reporting that the Mariners have declined options on Erik Bedard, Russell Branyan, and Jose Lopez.  Bedard was no surprise whatsoever, as he hasn’t pitched in a year and half and the option was for $8 mil.  The other two had a slight chance of getting picked up, but this was still expected.

Branyan and Bedard become free agents, with nothing to prevent them from resigning with the Mariners if everyone’s interested.  Lopez only has 5 years of major league service time, so he remains on the Mariners roster, for now.  They have about a month to decide whether to offer him arbitration, meaning he would get a contract next year, or non-tender him, making him a free agent.  Dave Cameron at USS Mariner has a post that goes into a little more depth on the options.  He says expect a trade, but any of the three are plausible outcomes.

In other related news, a bunch of guys were removed from the 40-man roster.  Ryan Langerhans and Guillermo Quiroz have refused an assignment to the minors, making them free agents.  Ryan Feierabend, Sean White, and Chris Seddon are still deciding whether to accept their assignments.  I can’t imagine anyone will be too interested in whatever happens with any of these guys.  Again, it’s possible they could all come back in some form or other, but it doesn’t really matter.  Brian Sweeney was also taken off waivers by the Diamondbacks.  He won’t be back.

-Matthew

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The Rebuilding Process, Year 3

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Years 1 and 2 of the rebuilding process the Mariners are in, orchestrated by Jack Zduriencik. With year 2 nearing completion, let’s look ahead to year 3 of rebuild mode.

Following this 2010 season, the Mariners will likely find themselves less ahead of schedule than what had been anticipated going into this season. The 85 wins in 2009 will be followed up with something like 65-70 wins. The Mariners do not have much money coming off the books, and their best player from 2009, Cliff Lee, is wearing a Texas uniform at the moment. In some ways, things may look bleak for the Mariners after this season. However, looking again at the big picture of rebuilding in 3-4 years, I think the positives still outweigh the negatives because of the strengthened farm system, the lack of bad contracts, and a strong nucleus that are all signed (Ichiro, Felix, Smoak, Guti).

Rewind with me again to November 2008. The Mariners were a mess, kind of like the Seahawks are today, and similar to Husky football after the Willingham era concluded. In each case, our team needed to blow things up and rebuild. This happens in sports, and typically, rebuilding takes 3-4 years. Of course the Yankees can do it in 1 year, and the Royals or Pirates need about 10 years, but for a Seattle team in a good market, 3-4 years is about the norm. This season it appeared the M’s might be able to take advantage of a weakened division and some savvy trades, and take the shortcut from rebuilder to contender in just 12 months. But 2010 has not panned out, and while it looks like the M’s are going to have to start over again once this year ends, the reality is the foundation for rebuilding was laid a year ago, and Seattle is finishing year 2 of a 3-4 year rebuilding process.

In his “Wait ‘Til Next Year” series, Matthew recently broke down each position, and forecasted the roster heading into next season. Certainly a common theme in these posts is the uncertainty at multiple positions, but despite the question marks, the M’s will continue building around a solid group that will surely include Felix, Ichiro, Ackley, Gutierrez, Figgins, Saunders, Smoak, Pineda, Vargas and Fister. Others from the current roster will be back next year, and some will not, and additions will need to be made, either via trade, free agency, or growth in the farm system. Given how difficult it is to predict trades, let’s look at the unrestricted free agent crop for 2011, and specifically, free agents that may be realistic targets for the Mariners, give their needs. Yes, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter may hit free agency, but again, this list only includes realistic targets, at positions the M’s may have an interest.
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Better Without Cliff Lee?

Right this second, Cliff Lee is the best pitcher in baseball.  His numbers are ridiculous, and beyond the numbers, he’s dominant in a way that has to be seen to be understood.  We often joke that Ichiro can hit the ball exactly where he wants to at any time.   I think Cliff Lee’s at the point where he can do anything he wants on the mound.  Wednesday night, he gave up two doubles in a row with no outs and didn’t give up a run in the inning.  Granted, one of the doubles was a bloop where the Mariners forgot to cover second, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this was the first time in history where a team had two consecutive doubles, without someone being thrown out on the bases, yet couldn’t score in the inning.  He’s ridiculous.  Need a strikeout?  Not a problem.  Want a pop-up for fun?  Here you go, Wilson Brothers!

I would be very happy if the Mariners signed Lee to a 5 year $125 million contract tomorrow.  They could go to $150 mil. and I’d be happy.  Unfortunately, the chances of that happening are extremely small.  In all likelihood, he’ll be traded in the next couple of weeks.  If we’re lucky as fans, he’ll be in Seattle long enough to start the all-star game in a Mariners hat, but even that’s doubtful.

We’ll have a goodbye post when he’s actually gone, though.  The point of this post is to examine if it’s possible for the Mariners to get better by trading Lee.  I’m not talking about in future years, either.  A trade has to make them better in 2011 and beyond or else it’s a bust.  Which isn’t out of the realm of possibility.  What I’m wondering is if the Mariners can become a better baseball team in 2010 with whatever they get back in a Cliff Lee trade. Continue reading

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Game Recap — 4/11/2010

I’ll just do a quick write-up since I doubt none of the other good guys want to talk about this one.  The M’s lost 9-2 today and finished their road trip 2-5.  Here’s a few quick bullet points for this ugly game.

  • Hero:  Chone Figgins.  He looked much better today and might start hitting the ball now.  There wasn’t much of a hero to this game but Figgins had 2 hits and an RBI.
  • Goat:  Ian Snell.  He sucked today, enough said.
  • Don’t judge Ian Snell by either of his starts this year.  He shut the A’s down pretty well but just about every ball was hit hard today.  I think he’s somewhere in between these two performances but we won’t know until he has a few more starts.  He was awful today.  I don’t know what that 88 mph pitch he was throwing was.  I hope that it’s not his fastball because if it is he’s going to have a long year.
  • Guti continues to be hot.  He had two hits and a few more great catches today.  Maybe the off-season made me forget how great he is in center field but he has been amazing to watch this week  and will be for the rest of the season.
  • Jose Lopez does not look good at the plate right now.  I can’t put my finger on what it is but he doesn’t look comfortable at all.  It’s probably just a slump but out of all the M’s players who are in a slump, he’s the one I’m most worried about.
  • Griffey’s bat looked slow the first few games but it’s looked a little better the past 3 games.  He was 1 for 3 today and just missed a home run in one of his outs.
  • If you want good news there actually is some.  Erik Bedard and Cliff Lee each threw 45 pitch bullpen sessions today.  They were both throwing hard and felt good.  Lee is expected back at the beginning of May and Bedard in mid-May if all goes according to plan. 

That’s about it for today.  The road trip is over and I think coming home will help this team.  I’m not very worried about them but I will be after a couple more weeks like this.  Opening day will be fun tomorrow and hopefully we go out and get a win.

Andrew

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