So Erik Bedard is following me to Pittsburgh***! I loved it last year when the Sox picked him up for their playoff push. It didn’t pan out very well for either Erik or the team. But it was still a good move at the time, right?
Seattle fans hate this guy. They say he’s an unreliable jerk with frustratingly amazing stuff – stuff way too good to be sitting on the DL shelf for months at a time. I heard he was a jerk in Baltimore, but still wanted the Sox to take a run at him when he became tradable – happy that he landed in Seattle and not in the division. When he finally got to Boston last summer, the biggest news he made was the day he got served papers for child support in the clubhouse… by a kid in a Yankees shirt. (And then promptly went out and got most of his pitches served by large men in Yankees shirts.)
Most Sox fans, myself included, thought he might just be the #3 come playoff time. Buchholz was hurt, Lackey was continuing to throw batting practice, and guys like Kyle Weiland were getting turns in the rotation. But Bedard’s time in Boston was actually quite unremarkable. He took a few turns to get stretched out, missed time due to inury, and was ultimately sunk by far too many 30-pitch innings and 15-out performances. Good thing the Sox didn’t need him to pitch game 3 of anything. He certainly helped save us from that embarrassment.
Now Bedard’s headed to Pittsburgh. This is a very different team with very different expectations of his performance. There’s no assumption that he’ll be starting playoff games in hostile rival stadiums. But most Pirates fans, myself included, seem to be pleasantly optimistic about this acquisition. I mean, it’s a good move, right? I certainly hope so. But we can’t ignore the fact that he’s alienated two fanbases that aren’t particularly known for being angry. He’s never been able to push his game into the ‘ace’ catagory that many thought he was on the verge of in 2007. He’s only cleared 30 starts once and has never pitched 200 innings. He seemed satisfied with slow-but-steady progress last September in the midst of a darkening playoff race. And he’s a bad mini-hoops player, to boot.
I still like this move. I like it because 25 starts of 9.0 k/9 should win some games in the NL Central. I like it because it’s a one-year, no-strings contract – the kind of contract for a guy looking to re-define his market. I like it because it’s the kind of deal Theo Epstein pulled off when he didn’t get into bidding wars with the Yankees – e.g., the 2010 Adrian Beltre contract. (Another guy that flopped in Seattle…) These things work out sometimes. Guys can get motivated and put together that walk year that earns them an extra $20M. And the team they do that with may just get the bump they need to take the next step.
Erik Bedard may not pitch more than 100 innings in 2012. If he doesn’t, that’ll be bad. But if he puts together 180 innings of his career average stuff, the Pirates are only a couple more good breaks from making their presence felt in the National League.
***Add Yamaico Navarro to the growing number of defectors! (12/8)