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This Calls For A Repost

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I don't usually do this, but since it's not worth coming up with a new way of saying the same thing, here's a giant blockquote from June 21st:

Staying on Bedard, but dealing with something totally different, all this criticism he's been getting for being a "100-pitch pitcher" - it's bullshit. It's bullshit. Not the statement; Bedard does indeed generally top out around 100-110. But the insinuations are bullshit. People - fans, coaches, and team officials alike - have used that line to accuse Bedard of being soft, of being too selfish and not caring enough about the team. They wanted a workhorse and feel like they've been stuck with a burro, and they're upset about it. They feel like Bedard should be giving something more.

Here's the thing: no one knows a pitcher better than the pitcher. No one. You can monitor his velocity or look at how much he's sweating or see if he's slowing down his pace, but only the pitcher truly knows if he has anything left in the tank. And if he doesn't, then it benefits nobody to leave him out on the hill to "gut it out." Assuming that Bedard really is only capable of throwing ~100 pitches - which seems like a safe assumption, since that's how he's been his entire career - then why on earth would you want him to try and go longer? Especially being as fragile as he is.

You know who hasn't gotten any complaints about being soft? Jarrod Washburn. Jarrod Washburn is a gamer who leaves it all on the mound, and then some. He's the kind of pitcher a manager loves to have, a real bulldog. A bulldog with a career OPS against of 1.013 after 100 pitches.

This is why good-old-boys baseball is stupid. Because those people are mad at Bedard for being smart and happy with Washburn for being retarded. This kind of relates to the whole fallacy about playing through injuries. If you're hurt and the pain is negatively affecting your performance, you shouldn't be playing. It's the same way with fatigue. If a pitcher is tired - and I see no reason to doubt that Bedard wears down around 100 pitches - then, as much as your standard Reconstruction Era manager might like to see him man up, the prudent thing to do is for the pitcher to be honest about his condition. That's good for the team, far better than any psychological boost the guys might get from watching a tired starter suck it up and jeopardize his health while throwing worse pitches than he was at the beginning. That's why you have bullpens.

If you want to criticize Bedard for not showing enough emotion or for not working hard enough in practice, then whatever, go right ahead. But what really matters is what a player does between the lines during a game, and Bedard is catching flak for doing what's right. I'm sorry, but I just find that beyond ridiculous.

Two weeks later, we're still hearing the same stuff - Bedard has girl parts, and he needs to man up, because he's been advertised as an ace, and manning up is what aces are supposed to do. Aces don't come out of a game at 99 pitches. True aces "throw left until there's nothing left." It's the only way.

For one thing, this isn't anything new. What follows is a list of Bedard's average pitches per appearance in starts lasting at least five innings (thereby eliminating the games from which he was removed due to injury or ineffectiveness):

2005: 106
2006: 103
2007: 106
2008: 102

It's a drop, yeah, but hardly a significant one. Four pitches is about one batter. If the Mariners have a huge problem with Bedard's in-game stamina, then presumably they should've had the same concerns when they traded for him, which means either (A) they didn't do their research, or (B) they're yelling at the rooster for crowing at the sun. Bedard's been dogged by durability questions for his entire career, and to complain about them now - especially when the team has so many way bigger problems - is diversionary, senseless, and more than a little mean-spirited. It is and has always been a known issue. Deal with it.*

* Did you know that Carlos Silva hasn't thrown a single fastball at 98 miles per hour all year long? Outrageous!

For another...look, this isn't about Erik Bedard coming out at 100 pitches. It is on the surface, but this is what you find when you really get down to the details:

(1) People are mad at Erik Bedard for not throwing enough pitches
(2) Therefore, people are mad at Erik Bedard for coming out of games too early
(3) Erik Bedard's in-game stamina hasn't really changed all that much, if at all
(4) Erik Bedard has simply been less effective than he was a year ago
(5) Therefore, people are mad at Erik Bedard for being less effective
(6) Erik Bedard is less effective because he's dealing with a litany of aches and pains in his hip, back, and shoulder
(7) Therefore, people are mad at Erik Bedard for getting injured
(8) Erik Bedard has always been injury-prone
(9) Therefore, people are mad at Erik Bedard for being Erik Bedard

I guess this isn't "another thing" so much as it is a continuation of the first thing, but anyway. Is it really fair to be upset with someone because he got injured? Bedard might've even been better off just going on the 60-day DL as soon as he hurt his hip, since at least that way the insults would be less personal. However, he's decided to pitch through all the soreness and stiffness, and rather than applauding Bedard for being tough, fans have blasted him for not throwing more, for not throwing better. Blasted him for pushing his already fragile body to the limit, because the limit isn't high enough. Blasted him for being soft and for being a quitter, even though the mere fact that he still pitches despite every indication that God disapproves is evidence to the contrary. Blasted him for essentially being what he's always been, because he was sold as the savior in a season that's gone to shit.

Look, if you want to label Erik Bedard a disappointment, that's fine. I'd even agree with you. I expected a hell of a lot more than what he's given. But to imply that he's a bad teammate and somehow less of a man because he wasn't blessed with a durable body, and because he knows his own limits...no. No. It goes beyond the threshold of acceptable frustration and approaches a level of irrational invective from which, given all the Snelling and Griffey love, I thought we were immune. I guess I was wrong.

Erik Bedard hasn't done as well as we thought he would. Meanwhile, a bunch of other players haven't done anything at all. Try to set aside your feelings about the trade for one minute and take heed of what's really important. Do I wish Bedard were more durable? Of course I do. I also wish Felix threw a fastball that rises and had a little strobe light in the middle of his forehead that would on every pitch activate upon release of the ball and flash and also emit a high piercing squeal so as to leave the batter in a state of blinding agony. But the reality is that Felix is Felix and Bedard is Bedard, and while everyone on the team could theoretically be doing better than they are, the fact of the matter is that you are as you were born, and there's nothing anyone can do to change it.

Erik Bedard is a pretty fragile pitcher. He's also a pretty effective pitcher. Lay off of the guy and realize that, should the Mariners make a run for it next year with Bedard still in the dugout, there are few other arms in the league you'd rather have pitching for the good guys. 99 solid pitches can pack a hell of a punch.