Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Erik Bedard, 2003 Topps Total #283
That's all well and good, but I'm thankful for Erik Bedard.
If you go to Dempsey's Army, you'll see Heath Bintliff's sharp-looking flow chart. It depicts the various ways in which the "What the Buck?" O's were assembled. Andy MacPhail's much-discussed February 2008 trade of Bedard to the Seattle Mariners seems to have finally matured, ultimately yielding three key players for this year's Birds. Adam Jones is now a two-time Most Valuable Oriole, and is currently enjoying a career year: .288/.336/.508 with 39 doubles, 32 home runs, and 81 RBI. He's played in all 160 games, and only shortstop J. J. Hardy (156 G) comes close to that. Righthander Chris Tillman had to wait until July to be freed from his extended apprenticeship at AAA Norfolk, but he has been the team's most dependable pitcher down the stretch: 9-2 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. (P.S.: He's still only 24.) The third player took a more circuitous route from the Bedard trade, so follow closely. One-time closer George Sherrill came over from Seattle with Jones and Tillman, but was traded to the Dodgers at the 2009 non-waiver deadline for Josh Bell and...Steve Johnson. Steve, Son of Dave has been just one of several pleasant surprises for the '12 Orioles, excelling as both a middle reliever and a spot starter: 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 38.1 innings. He's also striking out 10.8 batters per 9 innings, which is plenty unexpected for a young man with a fastball that sits around 90 and a career minor league K/9 of 8.5. Oh, and for the record, his dad had a major league K/9 of 3.5 and a minor league mark of 5.0. Yikes.
So sure, hand out your laurels and plaudits to the management types. I'll save my kudos for the guy who got released by the Pirates five months after taking the mound as their Opening Day starter. He was kind enough to let the O's trade him for building blocks before he fell apart.