A slew of early exits for Bedard, Seattle

ON BASEBALL

June 22, 2008|By DAN CONNOLLY

Observations, opinions and musings from last week in Major League Baseball. After his first start as a Seattle Mariner, Erik Bedard shrugged off expectations that he was the Great Northwest's baseball savior.

"I ain't God. I ain't going to do miracles here," Bedard said in April. "I am going to do my best and try to do what I did last year, and if it happens, it happens."

What has happened has been disastrous - for Seattle, anyway. The Mariners have the worst record in the majors. General manager Bill Bavasi was fired Monday. Manager John McLaren was canned Thursday.

And what about Bedard, the former ace for the Orioles who was dealt to Seattle in February for five players, including new Orioles closer George Sherrill and center fielder Adam Jones?

He's getting trashed all around. The Seattle media isn't enamored with his unfriendly persona. McLaren didn't like his supposed ace's inability to pitch deep into games. And Bavasi, the man who sold the farm because he thought Bedard was the missing piece to Seattle's elusive title, seemingly didn't like the whole package.

This is what Bavasi said after his firing when asked why Bedard couldn't go beyond 100 pitches in half of his first 12 starts:

"You got to ask him," Bavasi said. "Good luck. And he's going to have some stupid answer, some dumb answer."

It's a bit of a stretch to say the trade and Bedard's early performance - 4-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 13 starts - got Bavasi and McLaren fired. The Mariners have plenty of problems. But the Bedard saga didn't help.

In two consecutive starts, Bedard acknowledged he was tired and exited after throwing 99 pitches. If Bavasi had done his homework, he would have known that Bedard is plenty talented but can be uncooperative and won't push his body for the sake of the team if he thinks he's spent.

Friday night, he left a start after the third inning because of back spasms.

The guy will fight as hard as he can when he's on the mound, but when he decides he's done, he's done. And, now, so are Bavasi and McLaren in Seattle.

The Mets' mess

The carnage in Seattle wasn't even the most uncomfortable punting of the week. That one goes to the New York Mets and general manager Omar Minaya, who allowed Willie Randolph to fly to the West Coast and manage Monday's game before giving him the boot late in the evening.

The announcement detailing the moves - which also included the firing of pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto - came at 3:14 a.m. EST Tuesday. Minaya took responsibility for the decision and explained the timing by saying he didn't want to fire Randolph on Father's Day. And that he wanted to do it face-to-face.

But some believe Minaya was pushed into the decision by owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon, who had told Minaya last week that he was free to make whatever moves necessary to improve the woeful Mets. And that included eating the $4 million-plus on Randolph's contract, which expires in 2009.

The helpful hint might have been closer to an order. That's why the Wilpons might be the toughest owners to work for in the sport.

Pick up the pace

Major League Baseball apparently is serious about the mandate to speed up games. Serious, but silly.

Last week it fined the managers of the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins for violating the new pace-of-game regulations.

The Twins, whose games normally don't drag, had an incident last Sunday, when plate umpire Brian Runge did not grant timeout to Twins hitter Brendan Harris. Harris had taken a step out of the batter's box and was looking down when the third strike crossed the plate in a one-run game in the eighth inning.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire complained, understandably, and was ejected. And then fined $1,500 on Tuesday.

"This speed-up stuff, that's all good and fine," Gardenhire said. "But if [Harris] gets hit in the head when he's not looking, what are we going to do then?"

Houston's Cecil Cooper also was fined because he didn't send anybody to warm up his pitcher between innings June 14 while catcher Brad Ausmus put on his gear after running the bases.

"I didn't refuse," Cooper said. "There was nobody available. So what am I supposed to do?"

Everyone wants quicker games. But we'd like MLB to have some common sense, too.

Trembley's anniversary

Orioles manager Dave Trembley celebrated his one-year anniversary as a big league manager Wednesday. In that time, the Orioles were 75-87.

But Trembley needs to be evaluated beyond wins and losses. His team plays hard and doesn't give up. He and his staff are incredibly prepared - almost maniacally so - and he's the best dugout tactician this club has seen since Davey Johnson.

No question his option for 2009 should be picked up.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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