The result of a protracted three month negotiation between Bill Bavasi of the Mariners and Andy MacPhail of the Orioles that took more bizarre twists than your typical Lost episode, Erik Bedard landed with the Mariners for a whopping five players including Adam Jones, George Sherrill and highly touted minor league pitcher Chris Tillman.
The traditional media mostly sided on the side of Bavasi as the Mariners were coming off an 88-win season while many in the blogosphere were skeptical of the price paid in order to acquire Bedard. Erik did his best to stifle any possible opposition to the trade in Seattle with his first three pitches, a called strike fastball, a swing and a miss on a curveball low in the zone and a ridiculous breaking curve in a dirt that Ian Kinsler had no prayer of connecting on.
After that though it was all downhill. Bedard hurt his hip and as it turns out, his shoulder, in that game and couldn’t even make his second start on schedule. Off and on the disabled list, Bedard entered the season’s final month seeming unlikely to pitch again in 2008, but Mariner fans were still holding out hope that a winter’s worth of rest would return the 2007 version to them in time for 2009. But now that is not to be.
A labrum tear, no matter how minor, means at minimum a half year of rehab and it means that Bedard will not be opening the 2009 season in anyone’s rotation. As a fifth-year arbitration player and someone who did manage to pitch decently in the scant 81 innings he threw, Bedard would likely be due a raise from his current $7 million salary and thus he becomes a serious non-tender candidate for Seattle.
More than just a symbol of a season that’s seen everything the Mariners built turn to rubble, the loss of Erik Bedard represents a loss to all of baseball as the talent he displayed in 2007 was something special and despite his cold reputation from media members, my own, albeit brief, interactions with Bedard suggest otherwise. The loss of Bedard for most of 2008 and a significant portion of 2009 isn’t just the final nail in one of the worst trades of all time, it’s a loss for fans of baseball period.
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