Erik Bedard, who leads the major leagues with 207 strikeouts, has his opponent down to its last strike. This time, however, that opponent is Baltimore Orioles.
When White Sox ace Mark Buehrle signed a four-year, $56 million extension, the Baltimore front office fouled off the first pitch. But they must have been buckling at the knees when the team on the south-side of the windy city gave Carlos Zambrano $91.5 million over five years today.
Bedard, who hasn't lost in 12 consecutive starts, will become a free agent after next season unless Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail step in. Kudos to Angelos for completing a deal for No. 1 draft pick Matt Wieters, but now it's time to sign someone who can help the Orioles now, not in a year or two.
When asked in The New York Times about the possibility of playing for the Yankees, the closely guarded southpaw contemplated the question before finally answering, "I don't know." Well we don't know either because while the Orioles could have locked up their franchise arm long before his stock began spiking in late June, they have instead allowed him to serve notice to the rest of the league that he is a legit No. 1 pitcher, something Orioles fans have known since last year.
If Bedard doesn't stay, neither will Brian Roberts, and it won't matter who is throwing to the heir apparent behind the plate from Georgia Tech, or who is covering at second when he guns down would-be base stealers.
In the Chicago Sun-Times, Zambrano acknowledged that he wanted to stay with the Cubs all along. He's glad the deal was worked out before he went to the market.
‘‘Not everything is about money,’’ Zambrano said in the Sun-Times article. Maybe not where you're from. If the Orioles don't broker a deal this winter, 2008 will be about nothing but money.