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May 12, 2011

Three-plus years later: How good was the Bedard trade?

At the time -- Feb. 8, 2008 -- it seemed like a great deal for the Orioles, five young players for lefty Erik Bedard.

By 2009, it looked like the steal of century, especially since the Frank Robinson deal was in a whole different millennium.

Now, though, maybe that trade with the Seattle Mariners doesn’t shine as brightly.

The rebuilding Orioles sent Bedard to Seattle for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler in what was Andy MacPhail’s boldest and best move.

Jones, who at 25 has already received an All-Star nod and a Gold Glove, forever tips the scales in favor of the Orioles in this deal. No question.

Tillman, 23, was expected to be the second-best chip in the trade, and he is. But the jury is out on exactly what he’ll become.

Sherrill became the club’s closer and made the All-Star team for the Orioles in 2008 and then was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers near the trade deadline in 2009 for prospects Josh Bell and Steve Johnson.

Bell, now at Triple-A Norfolk, is still considered the potential third baseman of the future, but his star dulled after an uneven trial run in the majors in 2010. Johnson (St. Paul's) is still learning to throw strikes consistently at Double-A Bowie.

Mickolio (along with David Hernandez) was part of this offseason’s trade for Mark Reynolds. After persistent injuries, Butler is out of affiliated ball.

Bedard, meanwhile, is 12-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 37 starts with the Mariners since 2008. He has twice signed one-year, free-agent deals to stay in Seattle.

My take is that this was a very good trade for the Orioles, one of the top five in franchise history. But I’m not sure I’d call it great anymore. And I certainly don’t think it had the impact we once thought it would. Although a lot of that will be determined as the careers of Jones, Tillman and, to a lesser extent, Bell, progress.

Here’s the perspective from my buddy Larry Stone at the Seattle Times.

Now I want your thoughts.

Daily Think Special: Three-plus years later, how good was the Erik Bedard trade for the Orioles?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (48)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar


What are your other four top trades dan?

Barkeep's Reply:
Off top of my head, I'd say Robinson from the Reds is No. 1.

The big Yankees one that brought Dempsey, Scott Mac and Tippy is 2.

3. Might be getting Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez for Coggins and a soon-to-retire Dave McNally.

4. Given the volume and upside and Adam Jones' potential impact, I'd say the Bedard trade.

5. Mike Boddicker to Boston for Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling. That one, of course, is tainted by the following Glenn Davis deal that shipped away Schilling, Finley and Harnisch.

I am sure I missed some.

it will always be a great deal since we got rid of a whiny, me-first piece of roster cancer in Bedard. I can't give the exact game or date--it was his last year here, and he was rolling--I think we were playing the Red Sox, and he was stifling them. He asked out after 5 or 6 innings citing that bad things could happen if he continued and that we have a bullpen for a reason. He may have given up one or two hits at the time. No guts! Dan, what about the other side of the Sherrill deal? Where is he now? Don't get me wrong--I loved having him on our team--always wanted the ball---yeah--not as talented as Bedard--but gimme a guy like Sherrill over a Bedard any day. Bedard's high maintenance...

Getting Frank is obviously number one. But I'd put trading an aging Mike Boddicker to Boston for Brady, Schilling, Finley and Harnisch at number 2. Give the Bedard trade a few more years. If Jones keeps it up and the O's start to contend, I still could put it at number 3.

Well, Tillman gave up 3 hits and Jones went 4/4 last night. Orioles got the better end of the deal by large margin.

If Jones can consistently play the way he has this series so far, then the deal becomes extremely lopsided, especially if he is a career Oriole. However, he doesn't seem to have that fire all the time.

I really think we'll have to revisit the trade when Tillman is 25 or so. He's really learning how to pitch to good hitters here, as guys in AAA can't seem to pick up his stuff. I wouldn't say he's a AAAA pitcher unless he regresses, but hopefully last nights game acts as a spring-board for him.

Dan, you're missing a key fact: Bedard has made 37 starts with the M's in three years. There's no reason to think he would have been any healthier with the O's.

Therefore, if the trade isn't made, the O's still would be getting hosed. Had Bedard been healthy the last three seasons, we'd be having a totally different conversation. But he hasn't been, so this trade is still great for the O's.

Wait, what? This was a fabulous trade. The Mariners got two seasons of Erik Bedard (2008-2009) in which he made a combined 30 starts (in which he was excellent) while the Orioles got six years of a starting center fielder, a still-23 starter that could easily become a league average pitcher, a left-handed reliever who was very good and then flipped for another prospect. How has that bulb dimmed?

It remains to be seen if this trade will rise to the level of the Robinson deal, getting Brady, or Dempsey. The reason is that, while Bedard has fizzled out, Jones and Tillman have yet to live up to their promise. Tillman has yet to show that he can be a major league starter (most scouts projected him as a 4/5 to begin with). And Jones continues to hit in the .270/.280 range. The other great trades in the O's history were great because they brought a great player to town who was a key to winning. When Adam Jones puts the O's on his shoulders, hits .300/30hrs en route to a 95 win season, I will say this was a good a deal as Robinson

How is this not a great trade? Because Tillman hasn't become and #2 starter?

Bedard has done nothing and been constantly injured & cost the M's a ton on Money

Now if you were talking about the tejada trade to the astros, which basically only netted Luke Scott I could see where you might have an arguement

I think you are being a little too much Mr. Hindsight here. The trade has brought us a starting centerfielder, a closer, a starting pitcher - all who have made significant contributions to the club (don't forget how everyone questioned letting Sherrill go after what he gave us)- place use from Kam and the potential of Bell and Johnson. Are all of them-or any of them- consistent all stars? No. But look at how much they have impacted the line up and how the roster is built. Look at what is still capable of coming. Now, balance that against, would you have rather kept Bedard? Do you think you could have gotten more for him? No to both. The big reason this deal is questioned is because Tillman has not become the major league version of who he was in the minors.

Look at it this way, think of a trade that was a one- for many type like this, where after 3 years, more than one of the group traded truly made an impact three-to-five years out.

Andy should get lots of applause for this trade and the Tejada to Houston trade. Especially considering the past ten years of trading history of the club (let us never forget how the Ponson to the Giants trade was going to start the pitching staff rebuilding process).

Barkeep's Reply: Excellent points, Jeff. Drink chip your way. I am absolutely being a revisionist here. I liked the trade then; I like the trade now. But I liked the trade then more -- when it was full of possibility. And, what, Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss didn't do it for you?

@DoubleB, Mr. Connolly is a Baltimore native, thus he will be culturally bound to take the glass half-empty view of things...

Barkeep's Reply: Hey Keith, that made me laugh. Absolutely you get an open tab for that. Again, I think it was a very good trade. I just thought it had the potential to be the greatest, or Top 2 in franchise history, and now am not sure it will get there.

I actually think your take is right on Dan. There's no denying this was a good trade. Bedard has contributed close to nothing since then, while Jones, Tillman, and Sherrill have at least contributed to a degree.

But there's no denying it's not it could have been. It could have been an all-time great, legendary trade. Jones was the #28 prospect in the game at one point and was called up quite young. Most projected him to be a future star with superstar potential. Unfortunately, he still has the same flaws he did when he was 21 (doesn't go back on the ball well, can't take a pitch...especially an outside slider). He's just a decent player. Tillman was the #22 prospect at one point. Unfortunately, he's a AAAA pitcher whose fastball is too straight. Josh Bell was the #37 prospect at one point. He's been a huge disappointment and hasn't shown he can make enough contact to be a major league player.

If those three guys had lived up to the billing, we'd be looking at a nucleus of a contender. Instead, the best of them is still just one, average piece to the puzzle and the worst is a non-factor.

Still, considering Bedard's value has essentially been nil, it's pretty clear the O's won the trade. Both Jones and Sherrill made all-star games. That alone is enough. It's just that the trade hasn't been what it could have been.

The trade is successful for one reason at least: The Orioles no longer have Bedard in the locker room. Bedard was/is a primadonna who doesn't want to pitch more than 100 picthes per game. That is not the type of leadership you want for the young pitchers. Guthrie, although not as talented as Bedard, is the type of veteran you want in the locker room.

Yes it may not be the "Best Trade Ever" but it was a good one.

A great deal, even if Tillman doesn't pan out. McPhail was on the front end of an industry trend to package players even before their final pre-free agency year. He could never make that deal now. How often do you get to say that? I wish he would show the same boldness in the trade market now (dealing our pitching prospect surplus, although now I fear it is too late).

In spite of Orioles fans' frustrations with him (which I have shared), Adam Jones is really a terrific player. He had a rough first half last year, with the glove and the bat, but has really bounced back in the field so far, and he has had a bunch of at bats that you just wouldn't have seen from him even a year ago. I am beginning to wonder if he isn't our best player, actually.

This was clearly, CLEARLY a great trade, and still is.

First, remember that Bedard was only under contract through 2009, so in 2010-2011 he's played under separate, one-year contracts don't count for comparison. Bedard was a free agent and they resigned him, we could have gotten him back if we wanted.

And for that 2008-2009 run Seattle took on $15M in salary (don't forget about this!) while getting only an 11-7 combined record across the two years in just 164 innings (less than he averaged PER YEAR the previous 4 years in Baltimore). You could argue that Baltimore won on this trade simply by dumping the $15M in salary, given his lackluster performance across 2008-2009.

But of course we got more in exchange, a lot more. We got a young CF who has already earned all-star and gold glove awards (more than Markakis), and is currently leading the team in batting average and RBIs (and number 2 in HR). He could be our starting center fielder for the next 5+ years.

We got a young starter who is still the youngest guy on our staff. He's been uneven this year but has still given up 3 or less runs in 4 of his 7 starts, against good competition. And by the way, his worst start was with Fox behind the plate (in games where Fox has played catcher the Os have given up more than 9 runs a game!). I know some people have cooled on Tillman but he just turned 23 and has his entire career in front of him. I see a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Sherrill earned a gold glove and set a standard that no MacPhail-acquired closer has come close to since. He netted us a few additional prospects in a follow-on trade. If Josh Bell, Mark Reynolds, etc., end up contributing at all, that's cake.

So there can really be no debate about whether this was a great trade for us. Without it, we pay Bedard $15M more for two injury-plagued season, and after 2009 we have nothing to show for it.

I'd like to see what MacPhail can do this year. I think we could get value for a player like Scott or Andino, or even some of our one-year rental players who don't fit into the long-term plan. MacPhail hasn't excelled at all aspects of his job, but working the trade front on big deals has been his forte, and our minor league system could still use the talent. As far as I'm concerned, we could move anyone but Jones, Markakis, Roberts, Wieters, Matusz, Britton, Arrietta and Tillman if the price was right.

What about Curt Blefrey for Mike Cuellar? That would be number 2 or 3 on my list.
O's fan in NC

Great trade. Christopher is right.

If Bedard would have stayed here we would have had more money invested in trainers, doctors and excuse makers than we have already spent.

The Bedard and Tejada trades were both great. Problem is, McPhail hasn't made a significant trade since then, and hasn't done a good job of stocking the farm system. If I was GM, I'd trade Roberts this year while his stock is still reasonably high. You can't be sentimental about such things; you need to do what is best for the team. Either Pie or Scott would be gone, and you'd better believe Vlad and Lee are gone too.

Due to the ages of both Jones (25) and Tillman (23) I think it is still premature to pass final judgement. To date the O's win hands down on performance alone. However I think the worst fears in Seattle will come to fruition as truly believe Tillman will evolve into a top starter and Jones is good and will have a great career in Baltimore. When both of these players reach 28 that is when you will know far too early to make a Final Call.

We gave up 12 wins over three plus seasons and you don't think it's a great trade any more? This is one of your weakest efforts ever. We got two all-star seasons out of it and still have Jones, Tillman and Bell. Pehaps it wasn't the absoluting raping of the Mariners everyone thought it was in the first year after the trade but it is still one of the most lopsided trades in history.


Barkeep's Reply: Always appreciate your thoughts. But if the camps are "very good trade" and "one of most lopsided in history," I am staying where I am.

Andrew- you just wrote an entire list of the only players other clubs would be interested in. The only guys left - Scott, Lee, Guerrero - are older and have short-term contracts. No team would give us anything substantial for them. Scott might have been able to bring back a piece, but not now that he's been diagnosed with a torn labrum.

If you want to bring back talent in a trade, you have to give up talent. Nobody's giving up a top prospect in exchange for Kevin Gregg. Teams have wised up. If you want a future star, you have to give up a current star.

Schilling was not a good pitcher during his tenure in Baltimore. It wasn't until he left that he somehow discovered himself.
Brady was a good base stealer but didn't gain true fame until the year that he started using the juice.

Scott is 32 and Andino is 27, both in their prime. Besides, the value proposition for a trade this year would be to help a contending team this year. Obviously, we would get less in return than we did in the Bedard and Tejada trades- given that they were all-star level talents and the expected benefit for the acquiring teams was longer-term. But if these players aren't part of our long-term plans and we have a log-jam of people who need playing time, why not get something in return. I would think a borderline playoff team with a hole in their lineup or a pre-trade deadline injury might covet a Guerrero, Scott or Andino (particularly if they hit well between now and the trade deadline).

Aside from any talent we get in return, it would also ease a number of constraints on the roster- allowing us to get Pie regular playing time, for example, or keeping us from holding excessive roster spots for utility players (similarly-skilled Izturis and Andino, and forcing Fox into an awful backup catcher slot).

Just wondering if folks can please get off the Andino bandwagon? He had two good weeks in his entire career. He's a good fielder, but a terrible hitter in case you haven't been paying attention for the past 10 games or pretty much the entire past two seasons. I don't know if it's just O's fans or all fans in general, but folks seem too quick to extrapolate a season out of just a few at bats.

This was a great trade. Bedard has done nothing for the M's except headaches, money, and poor overall win-loss records. They thought that Bedard would put them into the playoffs and W.S., so they gave up a few of their best young prospects. Instead, Bedard has done nothing, Sherrill and Jones went to the All Star Game, Jones has a gold glove, and Tillman and Jones were the stars last night. With the way things have gone, I would have taken Jones for Bedard. I just wish that Jones would not swing at bad pitches as much as he does and that Tillman would pitch like he did last night. Last night's game was fun, though.

The Orioles should trade the racist birther lunatic (Luke Scott) for young talent this season. He is getting old and he won't be able to meaningfully contribute 2-3 years from now.

Bedard has limped through 2 injury riddled seasons with the M's, but is healthy this year posting a 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA/1.41 WHIP, Bill Bavasi get's fired a couple months later, and you consider this trade questionable?

By the way, real original copying a Seattle writers story from yesterday (and not differing in opinion at all).

Are we seriously still bringing this point up???? Good God. This was a great trade from day one. Bedard has been nothing but hurt and looked empty and lacking fire every time out. Does anyone remeber how HE would tell the manager when he was coming out of the game???

ps...Luke Scott is a "racist".......REALLY! I am fairly certain Felix Pie is one of his best friends on the team. Don't mixed politics and baseball.

For those knocking Jones, I won't question that he's been below expectations, but that being said, he did come up young and his game (even if not all his numbers) has improved each year.

Even this year...he's still struggling with that low and away slider, but I've also seen him fight a few off and even shoot some into RF for hits. He was not doing that at all last year. He's still young, and still improving, so let's give it some time.

It's just like with Wieters...he's not been sstellar, but his defense and pitch calling have been improving, and we've seen more offensive pop from him this year than in years past as well. Don't write young guys off too soon. Some just take a bit longer to put it together.

I don't know who that is in the bottom right of the picture collage for this article (Butler, I presume), but that jersey he's wearing has got to be the ugliest thing I've ever seen in the world of sports...

It was a great trade when it was made and it is still a good trade. Even if Bedard is now fully healthy and pitches 180+ innings a year for the next 3-4 years and none of the other players involved progress much beyond what they are now, it's still a good trade.

I am not the consummate stat geek, but if you add up the WAR (wins above replacement) values for the players since the trade it comes out lopsidedly in favor of the players the Orioles received and what they got from the Sherrill trade, 8.5 vs. 2.9. And there is still lots more value that can be derived in the future from Jones and possibly Tillman, even if he is no more than a solid #4/5 starter.

Greatest heist ever? Probably not, particularly since the Orioles are still not threatening to make the playoffs (yet). But still a good trade for the Orioles.

David Hernandez may have found his groove;
IP: 16.2
W-L 2-1
ERA 2.16
Ks 16
BB 10

At the moment, I think the O's got the better end of the deal. You have:
1.) Jones with 1 All Star appearance and a Gold Glove.
2.) Sherrill with 1 All Star appearance and 51 saves in 1.5 years. Used to net 3rd baseman of the future, plus possible future pitcher.
3.) Tillman is currently part of the rotation and too good for AAA but still figuring out the show.
4.) Mickolio still in AAA and was used to net your current 3rd baseman.

Bedard has made 30+ starts since 2008 and really only delivered one decent half of baseball for the Mariners. He may be pitching well now, but he's still only averaging 5 innings per start. I'd say unless Bedard returns to form and Jones and Tillman don't improve from their current levels, then this trade will always favor the O's.

Let's not forget the trade that brought Mike Cuellar here for Curt Blefary. That trade HAS to be in the top 3 for the Orioles of all time.

What about the trade with the Yankees that sent Turley and Larson for Gus Triandos, Willie Miranda, Gene Woodling and others I can't remember.
That trade converted the St. Louis Browns into the Orioles!

What about the trade with the Yankees that sent Turley and Larson for Gus Triandos, Willie Miranda, Gene Woodling and others I can't remember.
That trade converted the St. Louis Browns into the Orioles!

Dan, the Seattle article you linked to was published yesterday. I wonder if Adam read it and was offended? Possibly leading to be beat-down he gave the M's last night?

This trade is clearly in the top 5-and maybe #2 after Fr. Rob., owing to the context of the trade. Considering that the O's had been dealing with "Confederate money" for so long leading up to this trade, and that Angelos and McPhail made no secret about their need to refresh the farm system, it is remarkable that we were able to score so much quality. Unlike many of the other trades mentioned, the O's were in a very poor position for negotiating terms. For my part, I was shocked when the Mariners gave up so much talent for a gifted pitcher with multiple flags (injury history, personality, etc.)

The only reason anyone can argue this trade isn't great is because the O's as team are still terrible.

But i can't imagine how much worse they'd be if we'd have just kept bedard

The horror

I think the most important measure of any trade is whether or not it made the team better. I think an argument can be made that the trade has not made the Orioles any better. They were a losing team with Bedard and wihout Jones, Tillman and Sherrill, and continued to lose with them. So it did not make them better. Having said that, I still like the trade in that Bedard turned out to be an injured bust and Jones and Tillman may still have nice careers. I also like what Sherrill did when he was here.

I'd send Reynolds back to AZ for Hernandez in a heartbeat. Definitely not one of MacPhail's better trades.

worst Baltimore trade all-time, all sports;

Rosenbloom for Irsay

I don't know where you would put this trade, Dan, on your scale of trades, but how about a trade in '68.

Houston got:
1) John Mason (minors)
2) Curt Blefary (who hit .200 for the Orioles in '68 and was traded away from Houston in '69)

Orioles got:
1) Elijah Johnson (minors)
2) Enzo Hernandez
3) Mike Cuellar

That trade's got to be consider for a top five selection. Cuellar should have recieved at least one cy young award.

I heard that when Lenny Dykstra was told Von Hayes had been traded he said, "Great trade. Who'd we get for him?"

Bedard could pitch, when he was healthy, which wasn't often. But he was not a good team mate or good to the fans. We could have used his arm, but we were better off without him in the long run. That we got a couple servicable players for him was a bonus.

One misconception about Bedard: His teammates in Baltimore liked him very much. He's not one who trusts easy, but those he got to know were big fans of his.

It is getting hard for me to follow the argument. To keep everything equal, I really liked the Frank Robinson trade too, at first. However he didn't even make the team this year and his hand eye coordination is way off from what it was, so I am starting to sour on the deal a little...

Once upon a time, a GM named Jack Somethingorother traded an old cow for some magic beans, This played out really well in the NL West as the magic beans became real Giant killers. Since that time every GM has tried to trade an old veteran for some guys with potential, but usually they wind up killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.


I couldn't resist chiming in two weeks after the fact, because a lot has happened concerning the two key players of the deal since your column originally appeared.

Bedard has started pitching like the Erik of old, most recently blanking the Twins for six innings to run his scoreless streak to 15 innings.

That's pretty impressive, and as a Bedard fan, I hope he can pitch well and without further injuries for a long while.

However, as good as Bedard's looked of late, Jonesy is clearly taking a step up to the next level this year in maturation, hustle, leadership and blossoming skills, and almost visibly so from game to game, it's that dramatic.

And I'm loving that edge he's bringing to the game, like when he recently said, "We hate closers..." (my pick for the best 2011 quip so far by an Oriole not named Showalter). Clearly, he's one of Buck's key "nuggets", something the skipper has said in so many words a number of times already this season.

His second All-Star appearance is a distinct possibility and he may be on the verge of superstardom.

While Erik is certainly capable of being an All-Star if he stays healthy, I agree with you that the scales tip in Adam's favor, but I think it's more lopsided than you seem to allow, truly constituting a great deal for the Orioles (and I think that might be true even if it were a straight one-for-one deal).

Why? Actually, for a number of reasons: 1) Jones is 25 and Bedard is nearly seven years older at 32 (Adam turns 26 this summer), so the Orioles have a player who hasn't even entered his prime for one who's at the tail end of his prime; 2) Jones is a position player, while Bedard is a starting pitcher, so Adam has more opportunities to help his team each year: 3) Bedard has had some serious health issues severely limiting his starts since the trade, while Jones has been relatively injury free.

I guess until Adam leads the O's to the playoffs--and ultimately, to a World Championship--the greatness of the trade can rightly be questioned, but I'm thinking this is more a matter of when than of if.

Great post Ken

The deal was Jones and Tillman for Bedard. The two guys we got for Sherrill are useless and the rest are irrelevant.

Bedard has finally made it back all the way - and I'm glad for him - but he is no youngster anymore while our two guys are.

Jones is not going to the Hall of fame (not enough power), but he will be a Johnny Damon type - a solid CF for many years to come. Tillman is slowly but steadily feeling his way and making progress. I believe he will make it as a back end starter.

I try not to say that we destroyed another team in a swap or words to that effect, because it sounds bragging and unsportsmanlike. Still, on the whole, it's hard to argue with the results.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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