Erik Bedard? Interesting

Tony Massarotti stirred the pot today in the Herald with speculation that the Sox might be pursuing Oriole lefty Erik Bedard if they come up short in the Johan Santana sweepstakes. While Mazz was short on names, and specifics, in any potential deal with the Orioles, it raises some interesting questions about the Sox and the rest of the American League East.

1. The Orioles seem intent on blowing things up. Names that have been out in the rumor mill include: Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Bedard, and noted fan of the Inner Harbor, Aubrey Huff. Bedard is, by far, the most marketable commodity the O’s have, and Mazz said in his report that Baltimore was asking for a Santana-like package from the Dodgers in return.

Would notoriously-cautious owner Peter Angelos allow Bedard to be dealt within the division? Honestly, we can’t see it happening, but the Orioles would like to break out of the 75-82 win cycle they have been swimming in for the last decade, even if they head toward Tampa Bay territory for a year or two.

2. The Red Sox have not pushed the Twins on Santana. They made two strong offers, and if we were Twins GM Bill Smith we would think long and hard about the Jon Lester package, but they have not upped the ante since putting Jacoby Ellsbury in an alternate deal. The Sox appear content with what they have, but…they also are in on every big-time pitcher that is on the market, be it Santana, Bedard, or maybe Dan Haren.

They are clearly dealing from a position of strength. Obviously if they add one of the young guns it would make them better, but if they don’t, they have all those lovely bargaining chips for a rainy day. It sure seems like Theo Epstein‘s Development Machine is churning at full speed, and that is a good thing.

3. Have we mentioned the Blue Jays? Poor, Toronto. They have made splashy moves, they have made interesting moves, and they have made some questionable ones, too. They have struck gold with guys like Matt Stairs, and developed Alex Rios, Aaron Hill, and their young pitchers. Every year they try a different approach, and still they can’t really compete with the Yankees and Red Sox.

But now they are trying to talk the Giants into trading Tim Lincecum. If you have seen Lincecum and his 90 MPH changeup, you know what a frightening talent he is. One of these years the Blue Jays are going to stay healthy and get big seasons from all their key players. One of these years.

4. Has someone put a muzzle on Hank Steinbrenner? The George in training wheels mouthpiece of the Yankees has been conspicuously silent since his take it or leave it offer to the Twins for Santana. One wonders how long Brian Cashman will enjoy working in that environment and if he should be fitted for a gorilla suit after his contract expires in 2008.

In all, the winter meetings were kind of a snooze, other than that Tiger-Marlin megadeal, of course. Still, the hot stove looks like it will be kept lit long into the winter, and we wouldn’t be surprised if there is an earth-shattering deal or two in the East.