Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bedard's value gets a boost

It wasn't exactly a surprise after two weeks of rumors, gossip and hearsay, but Erik Bedard has finally been traded.

The Orioles, realizing they are a small fish in a big pond of Yankees and Red Sox, dealt their burgeoning ace to the Mariners for a package of five players highlighted by young outfielder Adam Jones, pitching prospect Chris Tillman and reliever George Sherrill.

Bedard enjoyed a breakout 2007, his third year in the majors: 13-5, 221 strikeouts, 3.17 ERA, .212 batting average against in 182 innings. Not bad, eh? Now he moves to Safeco Field, a better pitchers' park, and gets an upgraded lineup and bullpen behind him. The only dirt I could find on this guy is a strained oblique that ended his season a few weeks early last year, but all indications are he's fine. Bedard was already a top-five AL starter before this deal finally went down, and the move to Seattle coupled with Johan Santana's relocation to the NL may even make Bedard the AL's No. 1 fantasy pitcher.

As for the other side of the deal, Jones should step right in as the O's starting center fielder but he's still learning to hit at the big league level; Sherrill, a 30-year-old lefty, might rise to the top of an unsettled bullpen situation and should be on your watch list as a source of saves; and the rest of the young guys are probably a few years away from the bigs.

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