Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bedard: A Baltimore Perspective

By Patrick Whealton

Growing up about a half hour from Baltimore I've always known the Orioles to be synonymous with pitching just as the Ravens are with defense. I hear the tales of legends like Jim Palmer, Mike Flanagan and Scott McGregor. I remember going to ballgames and seeing the likes of Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson and Jimmy Key. But at the turn of the millennium the Orioles organization seemed to lose touch with its identity and shifted the focus to hitting. Now granted, this paradigm shift didn't exactly make for a winning ballclub and has left fans frustrated and management between a rock and a hard place as to the direction of the club. Like Mariner fans have been over the last few years, O's fans are frustrated. The days of seeing the seats at Camden Yards filled to capacity are gone and for me, it's a sad sight. So the question remains, what is the next step the Orioles need to take to ensure that they are competitive in the future?

There really isn't a choice right now between succeeding now or succeeding in the future; the former is not possible, especially not in the AL East where even the Devil Rays have a more intimidating roster. After trading Miguel Tejada to the Astros, it seemed as if management had come to its senses. But the litmus test for their decision making could come very soon depending on what happens with Erik Bedard. Trust me on this, the Orioles trading Bedard would be about the equivalent of the Mariners trading Felix Hernandez. Oriole fans would feel betrayed after years of waiting for the minor leagues to produce a pitching gem that can get the team back to the pitching-first mentality that was successful in the past. But what choice do they have? I mean, Bedard is only under team control for this coming year and 2009 when he will become an unrestricted free agent. You think the O's have a good shot to re-sign him? Neither do I, especially since sporadic reports have mentioned that he wants to play for the Blue Jays since he hails from Canada.

Are the Mariners a good fit for Bedard? In the eyes of the Orioles, sure they are. The two teams don't play each other all that much and the Mariners are in desperate need of another starter and have the prospects to acquire one. At this point, the deal that's been tossed around over the last few days (Jones, Sherrill, Triunfel, Tillman to Charm City & Bedard to the Emerald City) would make sense, regardless of what most O's fans think. But I can't say for sure, as an M's fan, whether I am comfortable with a deal like this just because we are only guaranteed two years of Erik Bedard; although I am leaning towards 'do it' if we can manage to keep Morrow and Balentien which, at first, nobody thought was possible. As for Bedard's injuries, they haven't really been connected so I'm not really worried about that. After all, he was healthy last year up until the last month or so. [Er-Bed]

Either way, I'm going to be seeing a lot of Adam Jones whether it be on TV with the Mariners or up close and personal with the O's.


Anonymous said...

If Bedard is traded sure there will be lots of O's fans who feel betrayed. By and large, these fans will be very short sighted.

But I think that there are just as many O's fans who are looking forward to Bedard getting trading and the O's getting serious on the path to rebuilding this franchise. Smart fans realize that this team will lose 90 games with Roberts, Tejada and Bedard, and we might lose 95 without them this year. BUT, atleast we will have potential, be hungry and exciting to watch.

Is the AL East a tough division to play in. Sure. But should anyone feel sorry for the O's. Hell no. They have been a poorly fun franchise for a LONG time now. They can compete in the AL East, if smartly run, and with the chips they cash in from the Tejada trade, coupled with possible Roberts and Bedard trades, they will be well on their way.

The Orioles have a great tradition. The Braves and Twins organizations modeled themselves after "The Oriole Way". Earl Weaver was a brilliant manager who embodied nearly everything that Billy Beane would want in a manager today. Because of this the fans, I talking of the same ones who will feel betrayed by trading Bedard, and Roberts, will come back in droves once things get back on track.

Patrick Whealton said...

I agree with you that the fans will come back once there is a good team, Orioles fans are some of the best in baseball. My point was that Bedard is really the only young gem to come up through the system aside from Markakis. Are the O's going to compete in the next two years? of course not. But If the Orioles think they could re-sign him, which I doubt will happen, then they would love to hold on to him.

I'm not really sure what they will do, but as we know, deals that can be just one player away from being done can fall apart very quickly.

Anonymous said...

True dat, but don't forget about Roberts (a couple of all-star appearences). The Orioles have had practically nothing come up through their system in a long time.

On the current O's, we have Bedard, Roberts and Markakis.

Before them, we're really only talking about Mussina and (gulp) Ripken bridging the gap between now and the good ol' days.

However, there are some possible bright spots on the horizon. Only mentioning players drafted by the O's, Adam Loewen has the ability to be a top of the rotation starter, Daniel Cabrera has those JR Richards comps but is mostly frustrating - I've given up on him, of course I hope I'm wrong.

Recent draft picks have also looked more promising (Weiters, Rowell, Snyder, Erbe, Liz (not an actual draftee...). Joe Jordan has done an outstanding job drafting in recent years.

Anyhoo, thanks to BB&T for devoting an entry to the O's perspective.