• Feb

    Trading of Bedard brings quality in return

    Man, it's finally done! Seems like we have been waiting for the Erik Bedard situation to come to a conclusion since about 1977. I almost thought Mike Torrez was coming back in return. Either way, the Orioles have finally dealt their star left-hander for CF Adam Jones, LHP George Sherrill, RHP Chris Tillman, RHP Kam Mickolio and LHP Tony Butler from the Seattle Mariners.

    The names have been rumored throughout the media for weeks now so it's not like most people don't know about these guys by now, but I have to say this is the exact kind of trade the orioles should be making as they rebuild. Andy MacPhail got himself a center fielder of the future in Jones, a great bullpen arm who may be able to close this year in Sherrill, and three pitching prospects, two of which have middle to top of the rotation ceilings in Tillman and Butler, and a six-foot-nine inch power reliever in Mickolio.

    After trading Tejada for five players, MacPhail has now acquired ten players this off season and he still has Brian Roberts, the last potential impact trade chip to deal if the Cubs cough up the right players. It's obvious that MacPhail believes in stockpiling arms because that's exactly what's he done so far. Tillman and left-hander Troy Patton, who was acquired in the Tejada trade, were the two best pitching prospects, but he also got numerous power arms with potential in Butler, Mickolio, Matt Albers, and Dennis Sarfate.

    Offensively, MacPhail has reshaped the Orioles outfield which has long been one of the weakest outfields in baseball by acquiring Luke Scott for left field and now Jones for center to go along with Nick Markakis in right. Everyone I talk to about Jones really likes him and believes he could easily become a Torii Hunter or Vernon Wells type center fielders. Jones was drafted as a shortstop but was moved a few years ago, partially due to the fact the Mariners already had a shortstop of the future in Yuniesky Betancourt. With Luis Hernandez as the current option at shortstop, it'll be interesting to see if the Orioles give Jones a look back at short. I doubt they will, but you never know.

    Besides Jones, Tillman was the key to this deal. The 6-foot-5 right-hander won't turn 20-years old until April this year but got the kind of stuff that scouts love. Pitching in one of the most hitter friendly leagues in the Calfornia League (High-A), Tillman struck out 105 in 102.2 innings and finished the season strong. He has a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and could start the year as high as Double-A Bowie this year. He could very easily turn into a top of the rotation starter and instantly becomes a top five prospect in the Orioles organization.

    Butler is an intriguing arm as well. The 19-year old left-hander didn't put up great numbers in Low-A Wisconsin last year, but scouts believe his low-90s fastball and sharp breaking ball have a lot of promise. He may have to start the year in Delmarva this year due to the logjam of starters at Frederick this year, but a good spring could change that.

    At Six-foot-nine, Kam Mikolio will actually look down on Daniel Cabrera, but the Orioles are intrigued by his mid-90s power sinker. He'll be 24-year old this year but got a late start in his baseball career, so he could find himself starting the year at Norfolk. He's got the potential to be an outstanding setup guy.

    Sherrill give manager David Trembley a good solid bullpen arm. He's only got four career saves, but should be given every opportunity to be the closer with the Orioles this year.

    Now that Tejada and Bedard have been traded, what about Roberts? In my opinion, Roberts should only be traded if they can acquire a shortstop of the future as well as two or three other solid prospects. I would not trade him for pitching, at least not as the key to any deals. The Cubs have been interested in Roberts all off season but unless SS Ronny Cedeno and/or super prospect Felix Pie are part of the deal, I think the Orioles would be wise to keep Roberts and try to sign him long term. After all, solid lead off hitters are extremely valuable and this one happens to be the face of the team. A team that just traded their two best players, so remember, although most of you that visit this website are extremely knowledgeable fans that understand what the Orioles are doing as they rebuild, there a lot of fans are wondering why the Orioles just traded Tejada and Bedard for guys they've never heard of.

    The Orioles need to rebuild but they also need to sell seats this year, so unless the Cubs are prepared to blow MacPhail away, I would not be surprised if the major trades are done. If Roberts is willing to sign a four or five year deal, I say you extend Roberts. With him, Markakis, Jones, and Scott it's a decent nucleus to start with as you rebuild.

    On a side note, I'm just glad this whole situation is over. The Orioles now need to either ask Cubs for what they want, and if they give it to them then trade Roberts, if not, start working on his extension in spring training.

    One thing is for certain after these deals, and that's Orioles fans have a good chance of watching the future not only in Baltimore this year, but in their minor league league affiliates as well. It's going to be an exciting year to watch throughout the organization in 2008.


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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.