Archive for the ‘Erik Bedard’ Category

Talkin’ Baseball

June 30, 2009

About once a summer the need to talk baseball just overwhelms me and I have to throw out a few thoughts on how to fix the Seattle Mariners.

There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt lately about how the M’s might actually be buying in this year’s trading deadline derby. If you ask me, that would be a missed opportunity of a lifetime. Yes, the M’s are in the AL West race but the only way they win this race is by significant upgrades to the starting pitching and run production. The only way to do that at the trading deadline is by trading away young talent. I say, let the Mariners take advantage of another ballclub for a change.

The time is right – not to build this team to compete in the post-season in 2009 – but to compete for world championships for the next decade. It’s time to SIGNIFICANTLY reload the M’s farm system. Why now? You have the perfect storm right now, that’s why. You have a handful of guys in their contract year; you have veterans like Sweeney and Griffey who can hold a team together and avoid a mess like the Pirates had when they traded Nate McLouth to the Braves; you have a pretty fair amount of parity in most MLB divisions right now, which means more teams may consider themselves to be buyers; and HOPEFULLY, you have a new GM willing to make a signature move with long-term goals for a franchise in desperate need of young talent.

My stance on this issue softened a bit with the news that Adrian Beltre would be missing significant time with his shoulder injury – thereby likely reducing his value to at least CLOSE to nothing. Beltre could have been one of our biggest bargaining chips this July – if he could show a little life at the plate and stay healthy. Unfortunately, he did neither and it now looks highly unlikely that the M’s will be able to move him.

So with Beltre out of the picture, now what? Who goes??

Jarrod Washburn. I’m actually a fan of Washburn’s. He hasn’t developed a signature “out” pitch, but as he gets more years under his belt, he continues to learn new pitches and has developed more of a sense of how to use them. I won’t bore you with details but this article does a great job of breaking down his early season success. At best, Washburn is a poor man’s Jamie Moyer. He’ll eat up innings, keep you in ballgames and be a positive clubhouse presence. I thought they should have taken whatever they could get for him LAST year. This year, he’s got much more value.

Russell Branyan. Frankly, I’d love to see Russell the Muscle continue on with the M’s but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he took this year as the only opportunity of his career to be an everyday starter – and boy has he run with it. I scoffed when he was signed in the off-season – but if Jack Z. can get a couple prospects for him, it could very well go down as one of the best maneuvers ever, by a M’s GM. Fingers, crossed for you, Jack.

Erik Bedard. Again, it certainly doesn’t help that he’s been injured but you can’t deny the fact that when healthy, Bedard is about as steady as they come. His value (like that of Washburn) gets the southpaw markup, so if he comes off the DL (reported to be as early as this weekend’s series) and throws well before the All-Star break, he shoots right to the top of this list.

Miguel Batista? Count me among the many M’s fans that would have been tempted to push Batista in front of one of Safeco Field’s famous trains if given the chance over the last few years – but now that Batista isn’t being forced to carry the mail as a starter, he’s actually shown to be a fairly reliable middle-innings guy. It will take a desperate team, so keep your eye on other teams’ injury reports and cross your fingers.

My guess is that any deadline deal involving these free-agents-to-be will involve the M’s eating a significant portion of their salaries – but hey, it’s an investment in the future. If the M’s are able to get some good young talent in return, it would be a huge step in the right direction.

If they want to make a bigger splash, the only player on the roster that is untradeable should be Felix.

I’d even take that one step further and say that the M’s should put out some serious feelers on Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement. The window
of opportunity to get top value for these two damaged up-and-comers may have closed – and to be fair, they could both still pan out to be superstars in Seattle – but if there’s an opportunity to look around, take it! Don’t let Morrow become the next Ryan Anderson!

***

If you don’t follow the M’s with even a little bit of interest, you may not know who Mike Morse is – and you almost certainly missed that the M’s just traded him for former Alanta prospect Ryan Langerhans. Every so often in baseball, I fall in love with a prospect and just don’t let go. Russel Branyan was actually one of those guys early in his career but I eventually DID give up on him. Hank Blalock is another one. I’m still convinced that if he gets a regular job and stays healthy, he’ll be a .300/25/90 guy every year.

Mike Morse was that guy for me on the Mariners roster. Morse absolutely tore it up in spring training last year and made the team out of camp, only to be sidelined by another injury. With the arrival of Sweeney, Griffey and Cedeno this off-season, Morse seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Now, Yuniesky Betancourt is sidelined by an injury and Morse is in Tacoma hitting .312 with 10 dingers and 52 RBI … and he gets traded? Makes you wonder if there’s some kind of personality conflict there. I’d say odds are that Morse winds up being another in the very long line of productive former Marniers that litter MLB rosters past and present.

One way or another, the M’s have the ability to make July baseball in Seattle fun again. If you’ve given up on them, now’s a good time to tune back in.

***

If you’re a baseball child of the 70’s and 80’s like me, you may have grown up watching your favorite team compete on the road in powder blues. The Royals have been flirting with going back to the blues with their alternate powder top – but they wear them with home white pants. It looks awful.

Ever since I saw those powder tops I’ve been hoping some team would bring them back full time. Toronto played in full powder blue throwbacks the other night and I am now convinced that we need more! Bring back the powder blues!!

Big Week for Wulff

April 1, 2008


So while we divert our attention away from Tony Bennett for the moment (and if you noticed, the story still isn’t 100% dead, as Howie Stalwick wrote today), lo and behold the FOOTBALL team is on the 3rd week of practice already?? How did that happen? I have no idea. Maybe because coverage has been so sparse, what with the Bennett’s run into Sweet-16-ness coinciding with 2/3rds of spring ball?

Whatever the reason, it’s a new week and spring ball is in the home stretch. While spring has been “OK”, according to some, Wulff weighs in today in the Spokesman about how important this week really is. For a quick recap, here’s where we are with one week left:

  1. The defense is ahead of the offense. BIG-time. Proof is in the pudding, and the defense allowed only 2 TD’s in 90 minutes of action last week. Both were rushing TD’s, and the D racked up 4 sacks and a couple of picks.
  2. The QB’s have been OK, but there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of separation at this point. There weren’t any TD passes in the last scrimmage, and the yards and completions were pretty low across the board. (here’s a full recap of the scrimmage) Rogers is still the #1, and most likely things will stay that way once spring wraps up. But there are rumors that another young QB has done pretty well, and might really make a case for the job this fall (think RS-frosh young). None other than Marshall L has looked pretty good. Who knows, maybe we’ll have the first QB controversy in the Wulff era before the first game?
  3. This team is thin, thin, thin. Wulff has mentioned it all along, from the first couple of weeks after he took the job, to interviews prior to spring ball. That view hasn’t changed in any way. Based on some hints Wulff dropped at the Seattle football dinner, we may see new recruits pressed into action immediately this year, and not necessarily by choice. I can’t tell you how many times Wulff would talk about a prospect during the video clips, and then drop in “we’d like to redshirt him this year and get him to gain some weight, but…”
  4. Someone on the SR.com blog asked Vince today what he thought about this year’s team. In a nutshell, he thought we would be OK. Check it out (*but here’s the quote): “Paul Wulff is trying to change the program in his image, which would be a rebuilding job even if 50 good players were returning. His philosophy is just different than Bill Doba’s. Whether it’s better or not is up for others to decide, but it is different.

    As for next year, the cupboard isn’t all that bare with a good offensive line, strong receivers and experienced linebackers returning, along with some possible stars at other positions. But there is no depth, a new quarterback is taking over a new system and 2009? Watch out. That could be tough one as the upperclassmen move on and most of Wulff’s guys will be young.”

That’s about it for now. You can get more from the Cougfan premium stuff, but they are the only ones that are really giving much on the football team at this point. Players are still getting to know the coaches, and still trying to learn new offensive and defensive playbooks in the process. No matter the situation, it can’t be easy. The important thing to remember is that no matter how rough the edges are right now, there’s still a long way to go until the opener vs. Okie State.

Moving on, some weirdness on the Sonics front. A group is going to announce at 11 AM a potential new arena option in Seattle, possibly down on the pier area across from Qwest Field and Safeco. A very strange press release was issued yesterday that the press conference would be today, the Governor knows about it, even the NBA has been briefed on it and it’s been in the works for months. That is all that is known at this time. More to come on that. Otherwise, the Key Arena renovation plan seems to have hit the wall in trying to get the last $75 million needed. With the deadline just 10 days away or else the Ballmer deal evaporates, it really does appear the franchise is yet another step closer to the dust bowl.

M’s notch a solid 5-2 win. Bedard struggled with his command and a wicked-tight strike zone, but he kept busting guys inside and never gave in. He battled through 5 innings and kept the damage to just a solo homer in the first inning. Not a great beginning, but still, not bad. And before you get uptight about Bedard? Don’t. Just remember the Jeff Weaver/Horacio Ramirez train-wreck of starting pitching last year before you complain why he didn’t throw a complete-game shutout! Personally I think opening day is beyond overrated, so it really doesn’t matter. The good news is 1 game in, 1 game lead in the AL West over the Angels! Better than the other way around I guess.

Good riddance Lopez twins. You’ll be taking your chest-thumping show to the NBA next year. No, we won’t miss you. And speaking of the NBA, a quick glance of NBADraft.net and you realize the Pac-10 landscape could be drastically different next year. Lopez (the good one) is already rated as the #3 pick in the draft. But look at the rest – Jerryd Bayless of Arizona #4? OJ Mayo of USC #5? Russell Westbrook of UCLA #10? Kevin Love, also of UCLA, #13? Darren Collison at #14? The other Lopez at #18? Even guys like Taj Gibson of USC are listed as 2nd rounders/underclassmen. Pretty remarkable at how the Pac-10 is going to show this year.

Also does you proud to see both Weaver AND Low listed as draft picks! Weaver as a late first-rounder, Low a mid/late 2nd rounder. Nice job.

Boys Will Be Boys? Hardly.

January 31, 2008

So now that the Times has finished serving it’s 4-course meal of UW thugism (plus one inspirational story of Anthony Kelley’s success, despite the program) , what do we as Cougar fans think? Plenty, obviously. But I’m going to take a slightly different angle.

No jokes or barbs tonight. Why? Too easy to kick a dog while it lies in the gutter? Too easy to laugh and make fun of a program that was out of control because this level of thugism hasn’t happened at my school? Nope. I’m not going there, because it doesn’t feel right. At all. The jokes aren’t very funny when you think of the victims in all this. Like the girl who was raped by Jerramy Stevens, only to have the case hidden away from public view and Stevens got to keep playing. Or the battered women in the lives of Pharms or Curtis Williams. Or how about the regular, non-football people that were beaten senseless in all the assault cases and fights?

More than anything, I’m just embarrassed in reading all that stuff. I’m embarrassed for the victims of these thugs. I’m embarrassed that prosecutor Norm Maleng in King County chose to look the other way in many instances, if not bury evidence that only recently came to light due to the Times reporters requesting that records become unsealed. Like Vince said earlier in the week at SR.com, I’m mad too that people that were trusted in authority acted like complete idiots when they should have done the right thing, time and time again.

I’m embarrassed that 25 players from that 2000 team were arrested at some point or another during their stay at UW. That’s not boys being boys. That is much, much worse. I’m embarrassed for Rick Neuheisel. He should be, without question, absolutely ashamed of what happened on his watch. The element that was rampant during his run as head coach is pathetic and inexcusable. I seriously wonder what UCLA officials might have thought if these details came to light before they hired old Rick. He might still be a QB coach in the NFL right about now. Who knows, maybe Roger Goodell would suspend him if he were currently on an NFL staff! What a joke.

But most of all, I’m embarrassed for family and friends associated with UW in one form or another. Family and friends that adored that 2000 team, with all their Tui-led comebacks, and how tarnished that must feel now. I mean put yourself in their shoes for a moment – what if, say, the Spokesman suddenly rolled out a series of F-UPS from the 1997 WSU Rose Bowl team, or the 2002 Rose Bowl team? And what if it happened the week before letter-of-intent signing day, as well as in the drive to get the stadium renovated? I’d be bitter, angry, defensive, probably a little in denial. But most of all, EMBARRASSED AND ASHAMED THAT IT HAPPENED AT MY SCHOOL. I would only hope that we could learn from history, for those that don’t are doomed to repeat it.

Some of you know I have family with very deep UW ties, family that have donated and supported the UW program since before I was even born. Without question, I’m embarrassed for them, and I hope beyond anything else that they were as unaware of these things as you and me.

Ok, down off the soapbox.

A’i Ahmu got arrested for mixing it up at Pike’s, including underage drinking and busting a window. That’s now two projected starters, Xavier Hicks the other, that have screwed up in the last month. As Vince says in his blog, all eyes – including the eyes of players – are on the coaching staff to see how they handle these things. Wulff said himself the day he took the job that there needed to be a culture change in the program. Not to speculate – but that’s all blogs really do, speculate based on what’s in the news? – but maybe there is some deeper problems with this program other than changing the culture? All I know is that in light of these recent UW stories, the media near and far is going to be on high-alert in scouting out player indiscretions. Let’s hope Wulff and company do the right thing, no matter the caliber of player, if they cross the line that we all know is out there.

On a much better, happy note, I heard a great Wulff recruiting story today. Turns out that after the big recruiting weekend after the Oregon basketball game, a bunch of recruits and their families took a bus to Spokane on Monday to catch their flights home. Well, halfway to Spokane, the bus breaks down. They are in the middle of nowhere (you’ve made that drive a million times, so you can picture exactly where I’m talking about), and not only is the bus broken down, but there’s NO HEAT on the bus. Our Pullman source says it was 29 degrees INSIDE THE BUS. So Wulff gets the call that the bus is broken down. But what does he do? Yes, he gets the wheels in motion, so to speak, to have a replacement bus sent right away. But he also hits the road and drives out to where they are and waits with the players and families the whole time until the replacement bus arrives and takes them on their way! No way was he just going to sit there in his office while his recruits and their families shivered in the cold. And how did that work out? Every player on that bus – every one – ended up committing to WSU! Well, ok, that’s not 100% true. There was one player who did commit, but ended up changing his mind and is now headed for USC (you can probably figure out who). But otherwise, every other player is set to become Cougs! I couldn’t help but be impressed by that story. I know it’s not THAT big of a deal, but that kind of stuff goes a long way in the eyes of players and families. It shows what kind of guy Wulff is, and that uh, yeah, I think we’ve got ourselves one hell of a recruiter running the show! Major hat-tip to coach Wulff on that one.

I look to my left, I look to my right, I look straight ahead, and still no Erik Bedard. What a soap opera. Tonight, Geoff Baker has the audio clip of Adam Jones over the weekend telling the reporter that he had been traded in the Bedard deal and that he was headed for Baltimore the following day. Wow. What a weird story this has become. Why can’t trades just get done anymore? Now many claim that Angelos is upset that Jones spilled the beans and is trying a last-ditch effort to ink Bedard to an extension. Yet the offer of 4-for-Bedard, headlined by Jones, is by far the best the O’s are going to get. Especially when you look at the haul that the Mets gave the Twins for Santana, without giving up their top hitting or top pitching prospect? I guess there’s a reason the O’s have had 10 straight losing seasons, and really have zero hope for any success for the next several years. Angelos is borderline-insane in his mini-Steinbrenner ways, and he’s on the verge of seriously blowing it!

Monday Morning Information Overload

January 28, 2008

Lots of stuff buzzing so we’ll get right to it:

  1. Win some/lose some department – Cougfan has been all over the Cougar recruiting news, and there was some new info trickling out yesterday. Basically we stole one from UW (Cory Mackay, 6-4 WR, officially verballed to WSU); grabbed a 4-star JC defensive lineman (Bernard Wolfgramm, a pass-rusher everyone thought was headed to K-State); and finally, lost a possible diamond in the rough in Brian Baucham to USC. Baucham, you’ll remember, looked pretty good on tape last week. Only a 2-star prospect, but a kid with what looks like big-play ability. Come on Peter Perfect Carroll, you just had to steal one of ours? Didn’t you do that last year? Oh well. Maybe he’s mad about Bumpus refusing his grey-shirt offer in ’04 and coming to WSU when they kicked him to the curb for Dwayne Jarrett?

    There is some news that Kent WR/Safety Brandon Turner returned from his trip to the Palouse, but still no commitment. Turner is a 2-star player who interests WSU, but our own “source” in Kent says he’s good, yet not exactly a game-breaker. In fact, our source went on to tell me that WSU can probably go better and he’s a borderline D-1 player. Hmm, 6-3, 197, runs a reported 4.46? Sounds good to me!

  2. Yes, Brinkhater, we saw a return to Bennett Ball on Saturday. 56-55 is much more like it, but my God, I was sweating the last few minutes. Yikes. I really wonder where our heads might have been today had ASU won that game. Still, 4 homes games in a row coming up and a shot at 7-2 for the first half of the season if we can sweep the Bay Area schools. 7-2 when 5 of 9 games are on the road?? HELL YES I’ll take that!
  3. Speaking of the hoops team, looks like we’re #9 in the latest polls. Seems about right. A 1-1 split in the desert isn’t easy. And further, on the Arizona game – PLEASE STOP all the “we suck” talk. We don’t suck. But Arizona is better than we think they are. They had a white-hot weekend sweeping the Washington schools, as they blew out the Dawgs on Saturday. No matter what anyone says, they are still Arizona. We’ll see what happens when they cool off a bit and hit frosty Pullman next month!
  4. So, Erik Bedard – is he or isn’t he a Mariner? You hear Geoff Baker of the Times talk, the deal is now done and will be announced probably tomorrow afternoon after Jones passes his physical. I heard him on KJR this AM and he says it’s done. He also says that the M’s will sign Brad Wilkerson to a 1-year deal as soon as the deal is done to at least platoon in right field. The other names in the deal are George Sherill, and then it gets a little cloudy. Probably a combo of Tillman and Butler, a couple of minor-league arms with upside. Some had said it’ll be a 5-for-1, with another high-ceiling prospect going to Baltimore, but that isn’t clear yet. We do know that Jones has been yanked for good from winter ball, and Jones said in an interview that Bavasi told him to go to Baltimore for a physical and he was the centerpiece of a trade for Bedard. Hmm. Yet Baltimore denies it right now, and the windbag Peter Angelos hasn’t made up his mind yet?? He’s famous for pulling the plug on deals, he’s done it in the past and you know he’ll do it again. We’ll see, but stay tuned.

    I’ll say this – I heard Mitch Levy on KJR say it this AM, and I totally agree – the hardest things to find in sports are 1) a franchise QB, 2) an all-star NBA center, and 3) a legit ACE on an MLB staff. Those things don’t grow on trees. So when you find yourself at a moment that could see it happen, well, you go for it. I love what I’ve seen of Adam Jones, and I think he’s going to be a wonderful player. Better than Mike Cameron, and probably a parallel to Torii Hunter, if not even better when it’s all said and done. But Erik Bedard, my God, how do you pass on that? You know he was better than even the great Johan Santana in a lot of categories last year? And he’s 28, with 2 more years at least under contract? Jayson Stark said that he’s easily right there with Santana as the best lefthanded starter in BASEBALL. And he’s recently said that he’ll be open to talks of a contract extension? The very thought of pairing Bedard with Felix at the top of the rotation is really, really exciting. And the staff, 1-5, rounds out nicely with Bedard, Felix, Batista, Silva and Washburn. I’d put that 5 up against a lot of staffs in the AL, and it certainly matches up better with the Halos. And who knows, if these guys can get deep into games, the bullpen stays fresher, etc. It could be one interesting summer at the Safe IF this deal happens!

  5. So how about that UW story in the Times?? The story stinks so badly that they have to spread it out over FOUR DAYS of in-depth sleeze. Wow. And they want $150 million of King County tax money?? How many soccer moms in King County, who had no clue about any of this, are throwing up in their morning latte’s? Rape with Jerramy Stevens, among a long list of F-UPS?? Shootings with bloody fingerprints of Pharms, yet they let him play?? What’s next? It’s obvious the state reps have heard from some registered voters over the last week or so, hence the about face of Dr. Evil himself, Frank Chopp. But, remember, this isn’t just front-page sports page news. This is TOP FOLD, A1, front page news on the most circulated paper in the pacific NW. Hard to ignore these kinds of stories. I don’t know how much of you have read it so far, but it’s pretty disgusting. A fan of UW, WSU or Spokane Falls CC, the thing is an embarrassment for college sports.
  6. Have you heard the one about the most hated owner in the NW mocking a Sonics fan at the Key last night, to the extent that he did a “boo hoo” face to him and then had him ejected from the arena?? What a pile Cash-us Clay has turned out to be. No matter what happens, be it the city loses the case and they are out of here, or they are here for 2 more seasons, or he eventually sells, at least we know we won’t have to look at “crap with feet” forever. I just want the damn thing to be over with.

Enjoy your week!