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Obstacles to Bedard trade

Clubs line up to bid on Baltimore's stud left-hander

Posted: Wednesday December 5, 2007 11:36AM; Updated: Wednesday December 5, 2007 2:43PM
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Erik Bedard finished third in the American League in strikeouts last season with 221.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Teams are starting to salivate over the prospect of trading for Orioles ace Erik Bedard, who has wisely refused to sign Baltimore's three-year offer to remain with baseball's messiest organization. But for a variety of reasons well beyond Bedard's greatness, it won't be easy to pry Bedard from Baltimore.

And this isn't just about the Orioles waiting to see who first lands superstar pitcher Johan Santana, either.

The Dodgers reportedly have offered top outfield prospect Matt Kemp and superb reliever Jonathan Broxton, and if that's true, that deal should have been done yesterday. Kemp is a Dave Winfield in waiting, and Broxton is as talented as any reliever going. I am skeptical about whether that offer was made, but there should be no shortage of great offers for the Orioles to consider, as Bedard is a rotation-transforming talent.

That said, it will be difficult to make a deal with the Orioles owner Peter Angelos and new Orioles president/de facto GM Andy MacPhail. And here are a couple reasons.

1. Angelos. He gets the quivers even over the thought of trading barely-above-average second baseman Brian Roberts, so how can he handle the idea of surrendering Bedard, a true talent? He's routinely killed deals involving Miguel Tejada, a declining talent who's wanted to leave and is highly coveted by others (the Astros and Giants are still interested) and won't be around when and if the O's ever turn it around. Angelos is already known not to want to trade in the division, which eliminates the Yankees, Red Sox (they'll probably be out, anyway, assuming they complete the deal for Johan Santana) and Blue Jays. No matter who's involved, though look for the Deal Killer to strike again.

2. MacPhail. He has always been considered a careful and methodical -- if diligent -- operator. Mets people foresaw it might take months to complete a trade for the Orioles' declining, overpaid catcher Ramon Hernandez, which led them to jump on Brian Schneider when they had a chance.

3. Angelos and MacPhail. Word among intimates is that Angelos already is questioning MacPhail behind the scenes. Word around the town is that Angelos is upset that MacPhail hasn't kept him in the loop on every detail (if true, I couldn't blame MacPhail for that).

The two became friendly when they worked together in a management capacity for MLB. However, working in Angelos' front office is something different entirely. The biggest problem, of course, is that Angelos is a micromanager, which encourages workers to frequently come to him with complaints, spurring even more micromanaging.

Their front office is unsettled now, with Mike Flanagan barely having a discernible role and MacPhail failing to hire the No. 2 man he's been promising. He did hire his nephew, Lee MacPhail Jr., who is an experienced, well-regarded exec and also ties him to Angelos in his preference for nepotism. (Angelos' rotisserie-playing sons have been involved for years, including John Angelos, who's headed a business operation that is marked by numerous personnel departures).

The well-stocked Dodgers (in addition to Kemp and Broxton, they also have prospects James Loney, Andy LaRoche, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw), Mets (they've offered Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber and Aaron Heilman), and many others would make available many top young players -- just the sort of players the Orioles need -- for Bedard. And the Orioles do need to be building for 2010 and beyond.

Anyway, it is thought that MacPhail understands the need to trade Bedard, who has two years to go before he can become a free agent and has no reason to re-up with the team that has no hope in the impossible American League East. However, it may take some time before MacPhail can convince Angelos that trading Bedard is the best route -- if that can be done at all.

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