Spinning wheels

Good morning.
I assume that it’s going to be a slow news day at the warehouse. Though as team president Andy MacPhail often says, everything can change with one phone call.

There’s plenty of talk that owner Peter Angelos vetoed the Erik Bedard trade to the Mariners, one theory being that he read comments from the left-hander that ran in Saturday’s edition of The Sun and became convinced that a long-term deal was still in the cards. For that to be true, Angelos would have needed to skip the part where Bedard indicated that he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project.

You won’t have a hard time finding “sources” who point the finger at the owner, but it’s necessary for Angelos, MacPhail or someone from the Mariners to confirm it. And for fans of both teams to know if talks are dead – which I don’t believe they are – or if a trade still can be finalized.

Sign Bedard to an extension, and the Orioles still will be rebuilding instead of contending. Acquire four or five players from the Mariners in exchange for Bedard, and the Orioles will be rebuilding, but also moving forward in their attempts to contend within the next few years.

This trade needs to get done. Bedard’s value could plummet the longer he stays here, either because of injury, ineffectiveness or his pending free agency. And from what we know, the Mariners currently have the most enticing package of prospects on the table because the Reds aren’t giving up Jay Bruce – who just happens to be on the cover of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook that I received in the mail yesterday.

Wait until the July 31 non-waiver deadline to trade Bedard, and certain players may no longer be available.

If the Mariners are in contention and Jones is having a breakout season, are they still going to make him the centerpiece in a trade with the Orioles, or will they choose instead to pick up a veteran who won’t cost them as much to make that final push for a division title?

And how will Bedard feel about staying with the Orioles if he’s been made available all winter, knows a trade nearly went down this week and then is told to report with the pitchers and catchers on Feb. 13? It’s a business, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it. And trust me, he won’t like it.

We also could get into a long discussion about how the organization’s reputation will take another serious hit if a trade isn’t completed and the owner is deemed responsible. As if there aren’t enough agents and front-office personnel mocking the Orioles for being dysfunctional and impossible to deal with. Why add to the list?

Perhaps another team will smell blood in the water and try to steal Bedard from the Mariners by increasing its offer. Or, and here’s the worst fear, other teams won’t want to get near the Orioles because of the perception that it will only lead to time wasted.

It’s not easy to part with a homegrown No. 1 starter who racks up big strikeout numbers, especially when there isn’t another clear-cut No. 1 on the roster. But Bedard is the bargaining chip that will bring the most in return for a franchise that hasn’t won in 10 years.

The Orioles finished in fourth place with him. We need to find out where they’ll finish in 2009 without him.