On more than one occasion this off-season Andy MacPhail has indicated that the Orioles have interest in re-signing Érik Bédard (Bédard and his agent have been mum). The overwhelming sentiment among Orioles fans is that bringing back Bédard is a good idea as well. Personally I've so convinced myself he'll be an Oriole that if it doesn't happen I'll probably be fiercely disappointed.
By why do people want him so badly? Part of it is, of course, because it would be funny, especially now that Tejada is back with the team. Part of it is our memory of Erik Bédard's 2007 season, the single best season by an Orioles starting pitcher this side of Mike Mussina. Part of it is because, even with his serious injury, he's likely the best FA option left out there for a starting pitcher.
While the general feeling is that it'd be a good call to sign Bédard to a short term, incentive-laden deal, there have been concerns by some people. One is that we have no idea if Bédard will be able to return from his torn labrum. Plenty of pitchers never do. Another concern is that of blocking our younger prospects or possibly forcing one of the younger pitchers out of the rotation (since Millwood and Guthrie aren't going anywhere). The second concern has been voiced a number of times here on Camden Chat but I think it is really the lesser concern of the two.
As is said so many times, you can't have too much starting pitching. Out of curiosity I looked up on Baseball Reference how many starting pitchers most teams used in 2009. The question of if the Orioles should avoid Bédard because it might end up blocking a prospect should be cleared up just by looking at the results.
|Team||# of Starting Pitchers||Pitchers with > 10 starts|
Pretty self-explanatory don't you think?
Potential 2010 starting pitchers on the Orioles 40 man roster include: Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, Brandon Erbe, Jason Berken, Jeremy Guthrie, David Hernandez, Brian Matusz, Kevin Millwood, Troy Patton, and Chris Tillman. That's less than the average of 10.45 starting pitchers used in 2009. Of non-40 man options, Jake Arrieta is the only who has pitched above AA. It's safe to say that of the eleven pitchers listed here, a few will spend time on the disabled list. A few of the minor leaguers might not be ready when a hole in the rotation opens up. A few will just suck.
I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but blocking prospects in the starting rotation doesn't seem like a big concern to me. It especially doesn't bother me because if Erik Bédard is healthy and back to form he'd be the best pitcher on the staff. Yes, Bédard might not be the Bédard of old. Yeah, he'll never be a workhorse even if he is healthy and good. But if given the chance to add a player of Bédard's talents without breaking the bank, you do it. You don't try to worry about what happens in June if Bédard is healthy and the five in the rotation are going strong. I'll take that problem any day of the week.