With the Spring Training mere weeks away, teams are starting to fill out their rosters, gather some organizational depth, and set up some spring position battles. The next few weeks are also a time when many teams are searching for value and signing players to low risk deals and inviting them to Major League camp. While Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse continue to play the waiting game, teams were quite busy signing other players to deals.
Astros Sign Erik Bedard to a Minor League Deal
Erik Bedard is exactly the type of pitcher the Houston Astros should sign and invite to camp. Entering his age 34 season, Bedard is coming off of a bizarre 2012 that saw him pitch really well, go through a poor period, and then get released by the Pittsburgh Pirates. For his first 10 starts, Bedard was one of the Pirates’ best starters, compiling a 5-5 record with a 3.12 ERA in 52 innings. He allowed 48 hits, 22 walks, and struck out 51 batters. But, he pitched to a 6.35 ERA during his last 14 starts and was released in August. In total, Bedard made 24 starts and pitched 125.2 innings while allowing 129 hits, 56 walks, and 118 strikeouts. His 5.01 ERA and 1.472 WHIP were his worst rates since his rookie season.
Health is always going to be a concern with Bedard, but ability has never been a question. Even his poor 2012 season gives reason to believe it was an aberration. That 6.35 second half was really a result of three awful starts, but his 4.07 season FIP indicate a pitcher who was hurt by a poor defense. His velocity dipped a bit, but he still elicited swings and misses at pitches thrown in the strike zone 13.1 percent of the time, compared his career rate of 13.9 percent. Every other rate from Bedard’s season was in line with his career norms. His 21.6% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate are still within his career rates of 22.6% and 9.3 % respectively. While his line drive rate was up three percent, his groundball rate stayed consistent.
While there is a worry about his final 14 starts, those final starts aren’t enough to completely write off the southpaw. The Astros are taking a no risk chance on a pitcher who has succeeded in the American League and who could actually bring value to the organization if he can stay healthy. If he is healthy, Bedard will have a rotation spot. And, if he is healthy, his track record is quite good. This will allow the Astros to continue to stock their farm system as Bedard will net them a prospect at the trade deadline.
It is the perfect chance taken by Astros’ General Manager Jeff Luhnow and his team in the front office. If it works out, the Astros will have a veteran left handed starter capable of beating any team and who they can trade midseason. At worst, it costs nothing.