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Brandon Funston

Spin Doctors: Wainwright or Bedard -- right-wing vs. left-wing

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Erik Bedard and Adam Wainwright are both coming off injury-plagued 2008 campaigns. But, unlike players previously debated in our Spin Doctors series, these two are living in different zip codes in terms of their '09 average draft position. The argument here is all about relative value. Brad Evans and Brandon Funston throwdown on this one, with your opinions welcomed in the poll and comments section at the bottom of the page.

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Evans' opening remarks: Save Seattle's team trainer, Brandon Funston is the only man in America who would gleefully massage Erik Bedard's strained glut. Why not? This is the same fantasy pundit who has the world’s most extensive Floyd Bannister card collection.

It's no comparison. Adam Wainwright is the better pitcher for several reasons.

Last year, Bedard gutted out shoulder pain and a sour attitude to tally numbers significantly below expectation. His impeccable ’07 command vanished (4.11 BB/9) along with a couple fastball ticks. Examining '08's debacle with his pre-breakout years and its safe to assume '07 was an anomalous campaign. The southpaw's career 3.54 BB/9 and 1.34 WHIP are unspectacular. More importantly, Bedard received a miniscule 3.33 runs of support per nine. Even if he stays healthy, Seattle's lack of offensive potency means 12 wins could be elusive.

Wainwright may cede approximately 50-60 strikeouts, but he makes up for it in other critical categories. A command freak who strikes fear into groundhogs (1.32 GB/FB ratio in '08), the Cardinals ace is a WHIP commander. His career 2.78 BB/9 and ability to coax weak contact imply a wide WHIP disparity will likely exist between the two.

More damning to Funston's case is St. Louis' offensive firepower. Prior to his two-month DL stint, Wainwright garnered 6.68 runs of support per nine. Keeping his strengths and previous peripherals in mind, it's not unfathomable to project a minimum of 15 wins this season.

Sure, the 40-pick ADP difference is substantial, but the now healthy Redbirds righty is clearly the more dependable option.

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Funston's counter: A year ago, Erik Bedard was the third pitcher drafted, on average, behind Johan Santana and Jake Peavy. This year, he’s going outside the top 40 starters, some 40 picks later than Adam Wainwright. Why the precipitous fall? He had a cyst in his shoulder and was shutdown after making just 15 starts in ’08. By all accounts, rehab from shoulder surgery is going swimmingly, and he’s already pitched 4.2 scoreless innings this spring.

I’m not suggesting that he’s going to be a top five starter again, like he was in ’07. But I am suggesting he can be a top 25 starter again, like he was in ’06 – he was on his way to a near identical season to ’06 last year before shutting down.

I have to ask, what has Wainwright done to warrant going 3-4 rounds ahead of Bedard? His one full season on record (2007) didn’t even rank among the top 50 starters in fantasy. And he followed that up with a decent ’08 campaign that, like Bedard, was also derailed by injury (finger). But among pitchers that logged 80 innings last season, Wainwright’s K/9 rate (6.2) was below league-average – Bedard was nearly two Ks better (8.00).

Bedard’s prickly personality hasn’t endeared himself to M’s fan, but he’s been noticeably warmer this spring, and the general consensus is that he’s already in contract-year mode. He’ll be motivated, and the M’s will be motivated to trade him, two things that will work in his fantasy owners’ favor. Take the Bedard discount all the way to the bank.

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