Last Friday night, obviously, was Erik Bedard's first start back off the disabled list, and one of the more obvious showcase appearances in recent baseball history. Bedard was an available starter at a trade deadline at which nearly every contending team wanted a starter, so there were a lot of scouts dropping in to see how he looked. How they all possibly got tickets, I haven't the foggiest.
And in the end, Bedard got traded right at the deadline, bringing back what seems like an excellent return. In exchange for a fragile pitcher for whom this team had little remaining use, the organization added two talented offensive outfielders, outfielders succeeding in the upper minors who don't seem far away. There aren't a lot offans who're disappointed with the way the Bedard situation wound up.
But all the talk on Friday was about what Bedard would have to show, and how good he'd have to be to convince another front office to take a chance. When he was pulled due to wildness in the top of the second inning, there were a lot of people who thought he'd dealt his trade value a significant blow. So I thought it'd be good to take this chance to note just what those scouts were looking for. Theo Epstein:
"We stayed on him and we scouted his first start back the other day in which he looked healthy," Epstein said. "Rusty, certainly, but healthy. We thought, based on the looks from this year, his stuff was coming back -- he was throwing well. He looks like someone who can really help us."
There was speculation after Bedard's start that the apparent quality of his stuff was more important than the apparent quality of his results, and that turned out to be true. It didn't matter so much that Bedard threw half his pitches for balls. What mattered was that his fastball got up to 92 and 93, and that his curveball looked sharp. The scouts accounted for rust. Bedard had been on the DL for a month, without making a rehab start. Aside from the rust, everything looked fine, so thewere willing to make a trade.
You can wonder, of course, whether Bedard would've brought back a better package had he thrown a better game. What if he went five innings? Six innings? Somehow, by some miracle, seven innings? What if Bedard looked both healthy and effective?
Maybe that would've gotten the Mariners an extra PTBNL. I don't know. But what's evident is that his results just weren't that important. Bedard could have thrown a perfect game, and the Red Sox wouldn't have given up Ryan Lavarnway. That's because all those questions still would've been there. One game couldn't possibly erase all of Bedard's red flags. The only thing Bedard could do to prove that he's actually durable now would be to throw 200 innings in a season, and that won't happen. It certainly couldn't have happened last Friday.
All that really and truly mattered was the quality of Bedard's repertoire, and the repertoire was present. I have no idea what would've happened had Bedard come out throwing 87-90 instead, but he didn't, because he felt good, and he wasn't trying to tank it to stay in Seattle no matter what certain media types might suggest.
Scouting. It's not about the results. It's about the process.