BY John Hickey 11:48PM 07/29/2011

Hickey: Mariners’ Bedard unlikely to appeal to buyers

Cust traded, Laffey demoted, Cortes recalled as M’s lose big; trade possibilities all over the map for Seattle.

Erik Bedard didn't last long in a showcase return to rotation in 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay Friday. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

From the beginning, Jack Cust and the Seattle Mariners seemed an oddly matched pair.

He is a designated hitter with a strikeout-or-homer mentality, and was asked to come to a Seattle team that was mostly about making contact and living without the long ball.

The Mariners have never had great success with homer-or-nothing types, and Cust was unable to break out of the mold. He hit .213, swatted just three homers, struck out 87 times in 225 at-bats and drove in just 23 runs. Although he batted in the middle of the order for much of the season, he was sixth on the team in RBIs.

It was no great surprise then that the marriage came to an end Friday afternoon. Shortly after he arrived at Safeco Field, Cust was called into manager Eric Wedge’s office where Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik made it known that the club was moving on without him.

Cust was designated for assignment, the baseball procedure that gives a team 10 days to trade a player, release him or sign him to a minor league deal if he clears waivers. Cust didn’t say much, just got up and left Safeco before the clubhouse was open to the media.

It was widely suspected that with the trade deadline upon us Sunday at 1 p.m. (PDT), the Mariners would part company with Cust, either by releasing him, as seems to be the likeliest scenario now, or by trading him.

Justin Smoak was the DH Friday, but the job could be divided among  Adam Kennedy, Smoak and outfielders Mike Carp and Greg Halman. That, of course, assumes Kennedy survives the trade deadline.

The Cust move was made so that the club could keep rookie starter Blake Beavan on the roster while the team brought back left-handed starter Erik Bedard from the disabled list. Beavan has a 3.04 ERA in four starts in place of Bedard, and he has clearly caught the Mariners’ eye.

One thought was that if Bedard came back and was lights-out, the Mariners would be able to trade him. The Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox had scouts in Safeco Field Friday night, and there were reports that other organizations had representatives in attendance.

They didn’t need to devote much time to their analysis of Bedard. The left-hander threw hard, had no control and was out of the game one out into the second inning. He was charged with five runs in an 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

It’s hard to see a contender making a big roll of the dice with Bedard at this point. If he’s going to be dealt, it will probably come after the trade deadline, when clubs must put players through waivers to complete a deal. That makes trades slightly more difficult. Most clubs don’t block waivers.

There’s still a chance that one of the other starters, right-hander Doug Fister or lefty Jason Vargas, could get moved. For that reason, as much as any, that Beavan has to stick around. Vargas is due to pitch Sunday and Fister Monday. If either were traded and Beavan sent down, they wouldn’t be able to recall him.

As manager Eric Wedge said, “we’ve got to keep our options open.’’

Wedge talked before the game about going to a six-man rotation including Beavan if none of the starters is dealt. It would ease the innings pressure on rookie right-hander Michael Pineda and veteran Felix Hernandez.

After the game he talked about his decision not to use Beavan in relief and said that for Friday, at least, that was a last-gasp move.

The first pitcher Wedge went to in relief of Bedard was lefty Aaron Laffey, who not only allowed the two runners he inherited to score, but allowed three more.

It’s been a tough stretch for Laffey, who allowed three runs in three of his last four appearances as his ERA has shot from 1.87 after three months of first-class relief work to 3.54. After the game he was told he was being sent down to Tacoma.

As a couple of teammates watched and offered consolation, Laffey packed quickly and left the clubhouse. Although the Mariners had no statement,  Rainers’ reliever Dan Cortes is likely to be recalled.

Twitter:@JHickey3


YourThoughts

  • Michael Kaiser

    Gosh, after last night’s performance you actually think Bedard might not have mass appeal?  I never have seen a half-inning like that.  Ever.

  • http://twitter.com/Shawnuel Shawn McLaughlin

    A top 75 prospect and a guy with 56 X-base hits in 399 PA, for Bedard and a glaringly wild relief prospect. I guess real talent evaluations are made by taking into account more than just one start.

    • Arati

      Yes Bedard is an Ace!! really just the media here in Seattle
      has an occasion to slam him for some reason. Not his fault he is a little
      brittle. Jack Z got a very very good return on him most likely better then we traded
      to get Erik here. I think the media needs to lay off him. He now has a real chance
      for a ring. maybe more then 1

  • Mike Kitsap

    Wrong again on Bedard, John! Of course a team was going to gamble on Bedard even though he wasn’t good on Friday. He was so good in the first half it’s worth a shot. It’s not like they had to give up the next Nomar Garciaparra or anything like that, just a couple of prospects (and actually the best prospect came from LA who took three marginal guys from the Sox for T. Robinson). ”It’s hard to see a contender making a big roll of the dice with Bedard at this point. If he’s going to be dealt, it will probably come after the trade deadline, when clubs must put players through waivers to complete a deal. That makes trades slightly more difficult. Most clubs don’t block waivers.”

  • Alex

    ouch.  Maybe you should have titled this “If I were a GM, I wouldn’t take Bedard”.  Most other reports coming out about Bedard were about the Red Sox’s continued interest in him.  So did you have different information, or did you just make this up?

  • Mike Kitsap

    he’s John Hickey, baseball beat writer for the last 20 years. He thinks he knows everything.

  • Artthiel

    Paul,
    Thanks for caring. We had a momentary problem with our content management system, which ended publishing the story before it was ready. The clean version is up, and my column will be there shortly. Apologies for the goof — Art