The Baltimore Orioles finally made the trade everyone expected them to, sending ace Erik Bedard to Seattle for a package of prospects. What this does is it makes the Mariners a legitimate threat in the American League West. The AL West was only going to be a two-team race anyway, because Oakland is rebuilding and Texas is likely to be terrible because some things never change. That left only the Los Angeheim Angels (note: On this blog, the Angels' city name will always be fused to Los Angeheim to mock their horrid choice) as the favorite to win the division.
But now with Bedard joining Felix Hernandez, the Mariners easily have the best 1-2 punch in the division, possibly in the American League when both are healthy. Plus, Seattle plays in Safeco Field, a pitcher's dream park. Bedard should only get better as he goes from 1-2 starts a year there to about 15. He becomes even more of a fantasy gold mine than he already was, and his team becomes a real threat, despite the fact that their lineup is solid but won't scare anyone. Other than Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners' everyday players are solid players who aren't stars. But the Mariners won't need to score a lot, because the rotation is solid and J.J. Putz was lights-out in the closer role last year. He posted a 1.38 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP, outstanding numbers. Hand him the game in the ninth and he usually hands you victory.
On the other side of the coin, the Orioles appear to finally have accepted what everyone else already knows: they aren't a good team. Baltimore is officially rebuilding now, as opposed to the last five years, when the Orioles were unofficially rebuilding. Truth is, the Orioles don't have much. Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis are all good players. But Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff at the 4 and 5 spots (CBS's projection) will not work at all. Ramon Hernandez is a solid catcher, and Adam Jones, a center fielder who comes over in the Bedard deal, should help Markakis solidify the outfield. That leaves Luis Hernandez, a AA call-up from last year, as the shortstop, while Jay Payton and Luke Scott fight for left field. Luke Scott? Sounds like a guy I went to high school with.
What this all means is the Orioles will be closer to 100 losses than 100 wins. Finishing at .500 would be an accomplishment for them, but at least they've finally admitted that what they were doing wasn't working, which should improve them in the long run.
My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy the Eli Young Band.