One thing I've learned in my first year of covering the Mariners beat is that contrary to some belief there is no great personal rivalry amongst Seattle-area baseball beat writers. Sure we compete with each for stories, inside tips and blog readers, but we're all dealing with the same difficulties as far as player access, travel, deadlines and shrinking budgets.
And the one thing that brings us all together is the team we cover. Part of my favorite aspects of my day is the pre-game media meal. Sure there's the obvious reason of all you can eat food, which is why you don't see many skinny sportswriters. But I like the meals because often at home or on the road, the large group of us sit around the table and have plenty of discussions while eating.
Sometimes they're about sports and relevant like the other day's discussion about the passing of Jim McKay, sometimes they're strange and inane like me trying to explain to MLB.com's Jim Street who Lauren Conrad of the "The Hills" is.
But because of the variety of ages, backgrounds and interests and because of the amount of time we spend most of our days doing, the conversation usually surround the team were covering – those hapless Seattle Mariners.
We talk about the same things you fans do. Why Richie isn't hitting? Why Batista can't throw strikes? Why Bedard seems to only respond with "I don't know?" Why the Mariners are so bad? Is John McLaren going to get fired? Should Bill Bavasi take more of the blame? You know that kind of stuff. Maybe we don't discuss it in the same way or with the same passion as a fan, but we talk about it.
And this rambling anecdote leads me to this: one of our more popular conversations recently has been whether or not the Mariners should trade No. 1 starter Erik Bedard.
Three months ago such talk would have resulted in a drug test for whoever uttered such nonsense.
Yesterday at Fenway before Bedard made his 11th start of the season the subject came up again. And there was nary a single person at our table in the dining room that didn't think that trading Bedard in the near future was a good idea. I know it's something Baker's mentioned in his blog before, and I have hinted at a time or two. Yesterday's performance at Fenway, didn't do much to dissuade such thoughts. I know it was hot, but Burke caught the entire game and didn't ask to come out. It's a 1-1 game, and he has 99 pitches and doesn't put up much of a fight when they want to pull him. Felix or Silva would have fought to stay in.
Today, our columnist John McGrath offers up his reasoning for trading Bedard. And he even has a destination for him – Philadelphia.
I've been mulling it over quite a bit in my mind. For one, I was a proponent of the offseason trade that now looks so lopsided, considering George Sherrill – not even the marquee given up for Bedard – now has 21 saves this season, while the Ms have 22 wins. The main piece of the trade Adam Jones is having the year I thought: up and down, moments of brilliance, followed by head-scratching miscues. But he's moving past the potential point. And a third of the five players given up for Bedard, left-handed starter Chris Tillman is being projected as a member of the Orioles rotation.
Still, I thought the Mariners had a glaring need and they went out and filled, perhaps overpaying, but with gas at 4.09 a gallon, who isn't.
But Bedard has not been everything the Mariners, or I, thought he would be as a pitcher or a person. I know that many fans will jumps to that initial conclusion – since Bedard is difficult to deal with the media wants to get rid of him. That's claim is ridiculous.
Is he kind of a jackass to the media and other people not associated with the Mariners? Yes
Do I think he does his little act simply because he can? Definitely.
Does that affect my reasoning in all of this? Not really.
I look at him two ways – pitcher and player – and so far he hasn't been overwhelming on him.
I mentioned to DP95 in the comments section that Bedard would ultimately sign with Toronto as a free agent. That's not necessarily a fact, and something more than a wild rumor. You hear things around baseball and one thing I've heard is that Bedard has shown little interest in re-signing with the Mariners. Now remember the M's keep these things pretty quiet. But there's a reason why Bedard runs to the solace of Canada as soon as the season is over with. By playing in Toronto, the trip is much shorter. And it would offer the option of getting back to Ontario on home off days.
However, if Bedard does go back to Canada, he's also going to be under plenty of media scrutiny and have gaudy expectations. That's not something he particularly enjoys.
But say this Canada speculation is all conjecture and he wants to re-sign with the Mariners. How much do you give him?
Is he worth $100 over six or seven years? Because that's kind of what he's rumored to be looking forward.
Do you invest that much in a 28-year-old pitcher that's never pitched more than 200 innings in a season, showed few if any leadership qualities and is in fact more of a dividing influence in the clubhouse than a uniting presence?
Can you afford to invest that much in a guy, who at times seems ambivalent to personal or team success?
Can you afford to invest that much in Bedard when you also still must try and keep Felix Hernandez, a younger, more fiery, stud pitcher that you've groomed as an organization to be the franchise pitcher? Signing Felix to an extension ain't going to be cheap.
It's a tough call. One thing is for certain. If you trade Bedard, you won't get five players – including an all-star prospect, an established reliever and a promising left-handed pitching prospect – out of the deal. Right now Bedard's value is kind of like the American dollar here in Toronto. The Mariners might get three players at most, with one being a top-level prospect.
I guess it comes down to a few questions that need to be answered.
Is Bedard willing to re-sign?
Is he worth the type of investment it would be necessary to keep him?
Is it time to start over?
Is it time to enforce a new attitude of winning where a surly pitcher, who is willing to give up the ball so easily in a close game wont' be tolerated?
What would you?