Volume 12 Week 5

Saturday, Dec.16


 

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Orléans Ward
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(Posted 11 a.m., Feb. 6)
Erik Bédard ripped in Seattle media after signing new deal
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

(Editor's note: The following was recently published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. After writing a number of stories about Erik Bédard and having interviewed him I can state that in my own opinion he is good guy, although painfully introverted. He does not like to toot his own horn and would prefer to just play baseball rather than have to deal with the media who I will admit tend to ask the same cliched questions after every game. Calling him a jerk because he doesn't like to talk to the media is a bit harsh.

It is also true that Bédard has only been able to complete one season injury free in the past five years and the jury is still out on his durability. In other words the pressure is on this season to prove that he should be considered among the elite pitchers in baseball and therefore deserving of the type of contract he recently signed.)

Will Bedard's new beginning have a happy ending?
By Jim Moore
P-I Columnist

AMAZING, ISN'T IT, that Erik Bedard won't be at the Mariners FanFest this weekend at Safeco Field.

He should be thanking the fans who help pay for his salary. The Mariners avoided arbitration on Tuesday by giving the moody lefty a one-year, $7.75 million contract, a raise of $750,000.

Bedard, 29, went 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA and did not pitch the final three months of last season because of a shoulder injury. For most of the year, he was criticized for not talking to the media, not being durable and not toughing it out more than he did.

Bedard has to be the most-gifted and least-liked Mariner of all-time. But the mantra in this space remains the same -- he's a jerk worth keeping.

When players are arbitration-eligible, their years of service are more important than their performance, thus the rationale for his ridiculous raise.

"It's the reality of baseball in this day and age," said Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. "The rules are in place, and it's the way the process is structured. The numbers become the numbers. In the world of professional baseball, it is what it is."

Remember, this is the world in which Horacio Ramirez, with his 7.16 ERA, got a $100,000 raise last year, and Willie Bloomquist just got a two-year, $3.1 million deal from the Royals.

"Willie couldn't have gotten more from Kansas City if he went in there with a machine gun," someone told me Wednesday.

Just as crazy, Bedard has $600,000 worth of incentives in his contract -- $75,000 if he pitches 150 innings, another $100,000 for 165 innings, an extra $150,000 for 180 innings and an additional $150,000 for 205 innings.

I'll take the under.

Especially with a guy coming off September shoulder surgery to remove a cyst and tissue from his labrum. At the time, it was said that it typically takes six months to recover from this kind of surgery, but apparently Bedard is ahead of schedule.

"Everyone's excited about where he is physically, and he's feeling good about himself," Zduriencik said. "(Aside from) any unseen setback, I expect him to roll into spring training ready to tee it up."

Until that happens and until he proves himself over the course of a full season, skeptics will skewer him like they always have.

"The guy barely plays, and we're in a stinkin' recession, and he gets a $750,000 raise, for doing nothing and having the worst attitude in baseball?" wondered KJR sports-talk show host Dave Mahler. "Where's the sense in that? It drives me crazy. I'd almost have rather had the Mariners cut him and be done with his attitude and nonsense.

"I can't stand the guy. I think he's a bum. He complains when he has a hangnail, complains when it's too hot. You need a bulldog in that spot, and he's more puppy than bulldog."

Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner (ussmariner.com) said the feelings about Bedard are split on his site.

"A good portion are pissed off at him -- he won't talk, won't try," he said. "The perception is that he's a wimp. But the other portion says that pitching through pain is ridiculously stupid, and who cares if he talks to the press -- he's a good pitcher who's misunderstood.

"Some have sympathy for him. The same ones who like Barry Bonds will like Bedard."

As with the other players, Zduriencik is giving Bedard a clean slate. Zduriencik wasn't here so he doesn't know what Bedard was like last year. You can tell him -- and I tried -- but he politely declined to listen, preferring to look ahead.

Zduriencik met Bedard last month and said he was very upbeat.

"Our conversation wasn't lengthy," Zduriencik said, "but I didn't think it needed to be."

Let me guess, I'll bet Bedard didn't think it needed to be either.

When asked if he wants Bedard to be more accessible to the media, Zduriencik spoke in general terms about the entire team.

"As a Seattle Mariner, you're part of this community and organization, and we want them to be stand-up guys and represent this community and franchise in a very professional manner," Zduriencik said. "The best thing we could ask our players to do is to be professional and respectful to everyone they come in contact with."

Unfortunately with Bedard, he's a sit-down guy who's equally aloof with players and reporters. In a telling quote from Jamie Burke last year, Bedard's personal catcher said: "You probably know him as well as I do."

More than likely, the Mariners will peddle him at the trade deadline and not risk his departure as a free agent after the season. In the meantime, if healthy, the jerk's a hell of a pitcher, and that's what's most important.

"A couple years ago, this guy was real good," Zduriencik said. "Even last year, his performances were pretty good. The issue is: we need him to be good."

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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