Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you (a.k.a. the column format just about made obsolete by Twitter, as if that’s going to stop me.)
1. I love the Erik Bedard move for a basic reason: When the guy has been healthy in his career, he has been a well-above average pitcher with almost no exception. Yes, we all realize the caveat as always with Bedard is “when he is healthy,” since he missed the entire 2010 season with a shoulder injury and made just 46 starts (winning 15) since joining the Mariners before the 2008 season. The question of when, not if, he will get hurt will probably hang over every start, which is one reason why I wish they’d also found a way to bring in Rich Harden; maybe between the two of them they could provide a full season of effectiveness. But Bedard, who whiffed 221 batters in 185 innings for the Orioles in 2007, still has top-notch stuff, as evidenced by his 2.90 K/BB ratio (the second-best of his career) and 87 strikeouts in 91 innings. The Red Sox, as a couple of astute readers have pointed out, were up against a numbers crunch in the offseason with so many quality prospects eligible for the 40-man roster, and so I have no problem with them dealing four decent prospects for Bedard. I mentioned this on the Sox podcast, which will be posted later today, but it’s worth noting here that Bedard’s No. 1 statistical comp all-time is Ubaldo Jimenez, while Harden is No. 3. I don’t care if he’s mean to my friends. This is a risk worth taking.
2. If all indications are correct and Ty Warren’s Patriots career formally ended when he was cut Friday, that leaves just one member of the franchise’s vaunted 2003 draft on the roster — center Dan Koppen, fifth-round steal that year. Seventh-rounder Tully Banta-Cain was also sent on his way today. In retrospect, that draft wasn’t as good as it looked the first couple of seasons. Fourth-rounder Asante Samuel became a star at least judging by his salary and interception totals, but Dan Klecko was nothing more than a fan favorite, Bethel Johnson is still running very fast in a straight line somewhere, and Eugene Wilson’s decline still remains a mystery at this address.
3. Not sure if this makes sense — wouldn’t be the first time I left you scratching your skull, I imagine — but in regard to the Patriots’ two recent big-name acquisitions, I have to say I think there’s a better chance they get greatness out of Albert Haynesworth than Chad Ochocinco. That’s no knock on Ochocinco, who is genuinely hilarious, good-natured, and accomplished. But I’m convinced that he’s slipped a bit as a receiver (12.7 yards per catch, 53-percent catch rate), and his role with the Patriots is going to be closer to what Deion Branch provided last season than what a casual fan might expect from a player with Ochocinco’s fame and public profile. I’m skeptical that he’s capable of greatness at this stage in his career. But with Haynesworth, it’s still possible. If Belichick can keep him motivated and engaged — I know, that if is as big as Haynesworth’s belly — he still has the talent to be one of the premier defensive players in the NFL. I like the Ochocinco signing more, but the Haynesworth move is the one that could be season-changing.
4. Still snickering at the thought of Andy Reid — who probably doesn’t do a whole lot subtly — swooping in to steal Nnamdi Asomugha from the Jets and Cowboys. The Eagles are no dream team, but they are loaded, at least until Michael Vick gets hurt and they have to play Vince Young . . . or Favre. Still, the Jets would have been something to behold had they been able to convince Asomugha to join Darrelle Revis in their defensive backfield. It would have given them arguably the two best cornerbacks in the league and, if I’m hearing this right, allow Rex Ryan to send the other nine defenders after the quarterback on every down. While my instinct as a lifelong New Englander was to hope it doesn’t happen — Asomugha is probably the first quality player I’ve ever hoped would sign with the Cowboys — from a completely subjective football fan’s perspective, it would have been fun to see how it works. That said, spare me the hyperbole that they would instantly become the best tandem cornerbacks ever to play on the same team, and the same goes for the Asomugha-Asante Samuel pairing. Neither would start for the 1983 Raiders.
5. I’m sure you keep reading the same vague rumors and conjecture that I do that the Patriots have one more big move on the way. Considering that no one in the national media other than occasionally Mike Lombardi has any clue what the Patriots are thinking, I’m skeptical. But that hasn’t stopped me from hoping that Ricky Williams somehow ends up in the Patriots backfield this season. Like Ochocinco, he’s not a malcontent so much as he is a person with a mind of his own, Belichick is open-minded and secure enough to worry that his authority could be threatened by a talented but free-thinking football player. I doubt it happens, because the Patriots have a deep backfield already. But I hope it does, and to me, it would count as a big move. (Related to that, I’m not sure that Matt Roth counts as a big move, and if the Patriots were interested, wouldn’t he be signed by now?)
6. One request, dear readers: If you feel the urge to write off Carl Crawford as a bust/compare him to J.D. Drew/suggest the Red Sox should trade him for [fill-in-the-less-accomplished-player here], from now on, please send any such missives to more receptive outlets, such as the Trot 4-Evah fan club. Yes, his season has been disappointing. He’s probably never going to justify that contract. But he plays hard, he cares (probably to his detriment), and Red Sox fans have no excuse for not being familiar with his capabilities. Let’s give the guy a real chance.
7. Mark Mulder was joking — I think — on Twitter a few days ago that his fellow ESPN “Baseball Tonight” analyst wants to come back and play right field for the Red Sox. It’s a funny sentiment, and one you almost wish could happen if he hadn’t just turned 38 and didn’t leave the game with reputation as one of the few players more brittle than his former Dodger teammate Drew.
8. Because I forgot to post it and I get regular complaints that it can’t be found on the website (it’s almost always a prominent “headline” on the right hand side), here’s my most recent media column, leading with my sincere lamentation that the lockout is one reason there will probably be no “Hard Knocks” on HBO this season. As for two media questions I’ve been asked a lot this week that I did not touch on in the column, yes, I think the cell phone should be turned off once ones walk between the doors of a place of worship, and yes, I think Jerry Remy will take extra precautions to make sure the microphone is turned off before he unveils his grumpier side.
9. I’ll watch HBO’s documentary on Derek Jeter’s road to 3,000 hits, and based on the positive reviews I’ve heard from objective viewers, even a Red Sox fan might enjoy it. But I have to admit, I’m a bit confused: You’re telling me those Fox baseball broadcasts for all those years weren’t Jeter documentaries? (By the way, Jeter this season: 4 homers, 36 RBIs, 85 OPS+. Mike Aviles this season: 5 homers, 31 RBIs, 82 OPS+. What?)
10. As for today’s Completely Random Baseball Card:
Because sometimes, it really is random. (Oh, of course it’s not! Jack Brohamer is never random! Frank Duffy . . . now he would be random.)