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Yankees Starting Pitching - Target #5: Erik Bedard

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Kicking off the week of examining five different starting pitchers the Yankees should consider (other than C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish) is Erik Bedard

I'm sure the decision to include Bedard on this list is already being met with jest. However, there are a few factors to take into consideration when it comes to this southpaw. 

For those that are unfamiliar with Bedard, he's spent his entire MLB tenure in the American League and experienced relatively strong success when healthy. In his later years (2006-2007) with the Baltimore Orioles, Bedard compiled 378.1 innings in 61 starts with an ERA of 3.47. More importantly, his SO/9 of 9.3 and BB/9 of 3.0 showed great command of the strike zone and his WHIP of 1.22 was fairly low. 

Traded to the Seattle Mariners prior to the start of the 2008 season for Adam Jones, George Sherrill and three minor-league pitchers (one of them Chris Tillman), the Mariners figured to have acquired a new ace. In his time with the Mariners, he never turned out according to plan. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Bedard appeared in merely 30 games, tossing 164 innings to the tune of a 3.24 ERA. Despite a similar SO/9 to that of his last two years with the Orioles, his walks issued rose a bit (3.9 BB/9) and his groundball rate decreased drastically from 47.9% in 2007 to 41.3% between 2008 and 2009.

What has been his downfall is the ability to remain healthy. He missed all of 2003 with a torn ligament in his throwing elbow that required surgery, missed time with a sprained knee in 2005, couldn't finish September of 2007 thanks to a sprained oblique, and suffered a torn labrum late in 2009 that sidelined him for all of 2010. 

Last season, Erik showed flashes of brilliance on various occasions with the Mariners before being traded to the Boston Red Sox shortly before the deadline. Once in New England, he never pieced together a notably brilliant start.

Even with the variety of injuries he's encountered throughout the course of his career, the velocity on his pitches has not been effected by much (decrease from 92.6 to 90.8 mph on his FB and a decrease of 2.9 mph on his CH since 2006). Keeping the ball on the ground is what assisted Bedard to higher success in his time with the Orioles and is something he hasn't been as efficient with since departing Baltimore. 

Do I necessarily believe that Erik Bedard is a saving grace for the New York Yankees? No, by no means. There are plenty of other targets that should be viewed before Bedard. But I do think that his services could be beneficial for the right price. The Mariners signed him to a one-year incentive laden contract last year worth $1 million contingent on his health. New York struck gold last season by signing Bartolo Colon to a low-risk, high reward contract and the same can be said about Freddy Garcia, so why not try for it again?

With the focus for starting pitching mainly on Wilson and Darvish, Bedard could make sense as a potentially cheap option that can earn money based on health and performance. Demand for his services could be moderate, but only at a minimal cost. Nobody wants to shell out money for a pitcher that's struggled to rack up innings over the past four seasons. So while his options may end up being plentiful by the time January rolls around, I don't expect any contract offers to be worth more than somewhere in the $1 million-$2 million range as a base salary with incentives added on top.

And hey, having another lefty in the rotation would be nice.

Stay tuned for target #4 tomorrow. Keep in mind that as the week rolls along, those are the pitchers I think make more sense for the Yankees to make a run at. 

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