Tag: pedro martinez

What If Pedro Martinez Didn’t Sign with the Mets?

So, last night I was watching Bob Costas’ “Studio 42” interview with Pedro Martinez. One of the discussion points was Pedro’s leaving Boston for the Mets, and Martinez made very clear that he wanted very much to stay in Boston, and would have passed on Omar Minaya’s 4-year offer for a 3-year deal from the Red Sox, had Larry Lucchino not “waited till the last minute” / presented the contract so late in the process (according to Pedro, it was within 15 minutes before the deadline).

I vaguely remembered this turn of events, but hearing it again — and now with the benefit of hindsight — I really have to wonder: what if Lucchino had made that 3-year offer earlier, and Pedro re-signed with the Bosox? How might that have changed the course of history for the New York Mets?

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Pedro Martinez and the Mets

Pedro Martinez was a fan favorite in Flushing.

Two years after he threw his last pitch, Pedro Martinez plans to announce his retirement from major league baseball.

There’s no question Pedro was one of the game’s most dominant pitchers in his prime.  He won a total of 219 games and won 3 Cy Young Awards along the way.  What’s more impressive is that he dominated a hitters’ league during the steroid era.    He posted sub-1.00 WHIPs 6 times from 1997-2005.  He struck out 200 or more batters all but once from 1996-2005, including two years of over 300 Ks.  His best season came as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 1999, a season in which he posted a 23-4 record with 313 Ks, and a microscopic 0.74 WHIP.  Though he played for several teams, he’ll always be known for his exploits with the Red Sox.

But what is his legacy with the Mets?  Can his 4 years in Queens be categorized as a success or failure?

GM Omar Minaya inked Martinez to a 4-year $53MM deal following the Sox’s 2004 World Series victory.  Many questioned the contract, especially the length, since there were already rumblings about Pedro’s health, and the slowing velocity of his fastball.

However, the early part of his contract was a success.  Martinez gave the Mets a certain amount of “cred” among other players in the league.  Many believe the Martinez signing helped to lure Carlos Beltran to the Mets that same winter.  And perhaps Carlos Delgado the year after.

On the field, Martinez was close to vintage in 2005.  While he never threw as hard as he did during his prime, a 92-93 MPH moving fastball set up his changeup and curveball beautifully.  He went 15-8 with a 0.95 WHIP and 208 strikeouts.  He completed 4 games that year, which was a great help to the weak bullpen led by the team’s mediocre closer, Braden Looper.

Red flags were raised as he was shut down in late September, with the Mets out of the race.  The focus on Pedro’s sore right toe was a dominant and surreal story throughout the offseason, and into the Spring.

Questions of his health waned after Martinez got off to a 5-0 start in 2006.  But he began to break down, first suffering a hip injury while slipping on the clubhouse steps.  His performance steadily declined as his trips to the Disabled List increased (He had a total of two stays on the DL).  He went 4-8 the rest of the year, and was seen crying in the dugout after a miserable outing in September.  An MRI revealed he had been pitching with a torn rotator cuff and a torn calf.  His season was done, and his career was threatened.

Martinez rehabbed, and made an admirable comeback in September of 2007.  He went 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA, though his stuff was clearly not what it was.  In 2008, he strained his hamstring in his first start, and missed most of the season.  He totaled a 5-6 record with a 5.61 ERA.  He would go on to pitch one more partial season with the rival Philadelphia Phillies in 2009.

So how does one measure Pedro’s time with the Mets?  Off the field, his credibility with the rest of the league helped to build the contenders of 2006-2008.  But his health issues marred his performance on the field.  Think of how different the 2006 postseason could have been with a healthy Pedro in the rotation instead of John Maine, Oliver Perez, or Steve Trachsel.  A healthy Pedro might have helped stave off the collapses of 2007 and 2008.

But his body betrayed him, and the Mets pitching staff suffered.  The teams of 2006-2008 were ultimately disappointments, and unfortunately, so was Martinez.

The disappointment wasn’t necessarily his fault – Minaya and the Wilpons took a chance on a declining superstar.  It was a gamble that payed off early on, but in the long run didn’t meet expectations.

Despite his performance, Pedro will remain a fan favorite among the Mets faithful.  He showed guts and a competitive fire.  He was refreshingly honest with the media, and the fans loved his entertaining personality.  And when you boil it down, baseball is about entertainment.  So maybe Pedro’s legacy with the Mets wasn’t a total loss.

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Omar Minaya’s Backward Plan

For several years, many pundits (including myself) have criticized Omar Minaya for his lack of a “Plan B”, or “backup plan”.

It turns out that we simply didn’t understand Minaya’s genius. He never had a “backup plan” because from the beginning he’s been working with a “backward plan”.

Huh?

We have to go back far in time to explain — specifically, to June 12, 2003, when Steve Phillips was fired.

It was on that day that Jeff and Fred Wilpon announced a new direction for the organization.

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Garland, Sheets Off the Table

Remove the garland from the Christmas tree, and get Lazy Mary to pull the sheets from her bed.

A little late on this, but reporting it so you can post your comments — Ben Sheets agreed to a one-year, $10M deal with the Oakland Athletics, and Jon Garland signed a one-year, $4.7M deal with the San Diego Padres.

As mentioned in the previous post, Sheets + Oakland makes a lot of sense for both parties.

Garland, I imagine, preferred to be on the Left Coast, so it’s possible the Mets were never a possibility considering their Right Coast locale. Additionally, he has a nice opportunity to hurl a stress-free year in a huge pitcher’s park — a good formula for boosting his value when he becomes a free agent again next winter.

Additionally, former Cub prospect Rich Hill signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals. The lefthander had a breakout season in 2007, then forgot how to throw strikes. This is a very under-the-radar move that could very well turn out wonderful for St. Louis. Can’t you just see Hill suddenly finding himself under the tutelage of Dave Duncan?

In other belated reporting, you may or may not have heard that the Phillies signed Jose Contreras to a cheap one-year deal. I don’t think the Mets were ever a player for his services, and I don’t believe he would’ve been a good idea. Most reports speculate that Contreras will begin 2010 in the Philly bullpen.

Finally, the latest buzz is that Jarrod Washburn is leaning toward the Twins and Mariners.

So, who’s left on the open market for the rotation? Looks to me like Braden Looper, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez are the best of the best. Ouch. In other words, Omar Minaya best be burning the phone lines talking trade with other GMs to find another arm or two.

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Mets Game 144: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 1 Mets 0

Well, at least they weren’t swept. Though, they were mathematically eliminated from winning the NL East (the Mets are now 20 games behind the Phillies with 18 games left to play).

Tim Redding continued his remarkable ability to mystify the most powerful offense in the National League, holding the Phillies to one measly run on three hits in six innings. However, Pedro Martinez was just a little better, shutting out the Mets through eight frames — allowing six hits, two walks, and striking out seven in an inspiring and emotional 130-pitch effort.

You remember Pedro — the guy who insisted he was finally healthy and practically begged the Mets to give him one more year of pitching in New York?

With Brad Lidge remaining on the bench, the Mets had little chance of coming back in the ninth. Instead, Ryan Madson came on to earn his eighth save of the season.

Notes

The Mets scattered seven hits, more than doubling the Phillies’ three. But hits are irrelevant if they don’t score runs.

Pedro’s change-up was thrown as slow as 75 MPH and as fast as 87 MPH. He was 90-91 on most of his fastballs. His 125th and 126th pitches of the night were clocked at 91 MPH.

Pedro is now 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA and has yet to “disrupt” the Phillies clubhouse with his “poisonous” personality — which was predicted by such “experts” as Seth Everett and Don LaGreca. (The Phillies are 7-0 in his starts.)

Once Jeremy Reed replaced Fernando Tatis in left, joining Carlos Beltran in center and Cory Sullivan in right, the Mets fielded perhaps the best defensive outfield combination in their history.

Did anyone else see Kevin Burkhardt competing against Roger Federer between games? The commute would’ve been a lot easier if the Mets were playing at home.

Today’s Baseball Lesson

With two outs and Pedro on pitch #130, Dan Murphy broke for third on a ball in the dirt, only to be thrown out by Carlos Ruiz. Youngster, take heed of this baseball absolute: NEVER, EVER make the first out or the third out at third base. EVER. The reason you don’t make the last out at third is because you are already in scoring position at second base, and with two outs you can only score on a hit. OK, if you’re on third base there is a chance you can score on a wild pitch, but those are fairly rare (except at the very low levels) and they don’t occur often enough to make it worth the gamble of advancing to third — it’s a low-percentage play. In contrast, with less than two outs, it’s OK to be more aggressive in advancing to third because you can score on an out (i.e., sacrifice fly or ground out) — your options are greatly broadened. Dan Murphy standing on second base with two outs and standing on third base with two outs is essentially the same situation — in either case your most likely chance of scoring is on a ball hit to the outfield that falls safely.

Next Mets Game

The Mets have Monday off, and will travel to Atlanta to begin a three-game set with the Braves. Game one begins at 7:00 PM and pits Pat Misch against Tommy Hanson.

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Mets Game 124: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 9 Mets 7

You can’t say this game wasn’t entertaining.

What began as another circus-like outing by Oliver Perez turned out to be an unusually tenacious effort by the Mets.

Perez allowed two three-run homers in two-thirds of an inning and was on the verge of walking Pedro Martinez when he was replaced by Nelson Figueroa in the initial inning. Other than putting an end to the first frame, Figgy wasn’t terribly effective, allowing another two scores before yielding to Pat Misch. Misch proved he’s much better in the role of long man than LOOGY by holding the fort for four full frames, allowing just one hit and striking out four. His performance allowed the Mets to chip away and make the final innings interesting.

Meanwhile, Pedro Martinez’s return to Flushing was somewhat emotional and otherwise unimpressive — though he pitched well enough to earn his second win as a Phillie. He “held” the Mets to four runs in six innings, then let the Phillie bullpen finish up.

Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Mets were down by three but Angel Pagan led off with a triple by getting to third on a three-base error by Ryan Howard to spark a rally and ignite the Citi Field crowd. After two consecutive misplays by Chase Utley’s understudy Eric Bruntlett, the Mets had men on first and second with no one out and Jeff Francoeur at the plate. Perhaps to guard against a rally-killing double play, Jerry Manuel put on a hit-and-run — which did keep them out of a DP but created instead a TP. With the runners moving, Francoeur ripped a liner up the middle that was snared by previous goat Bruntlett, who stepped on second base to eliminate Luis Castillo, then tagged oncoming runner Dan Murphy to complete an unassisted triple play that ended the inning and the game.

Notes

Before Mets fans gripe that the triple play was “a lucky break”, they should remember that Pagan’s “triple” sneaked under Howard’s glove and that the Mets were “lucky” that Bruntlett muffed the next two balls to create the situation. If anything, the Mets’ luck was running out.

Again, is it safe to say Pat Misch is better suited to multiple innings, than to be used as a per-batter specialist?

Pagan hit an inside-the-park homer to lead off the first, though it would’ve been a triple had the ball not lodged under the padding in centerfield, causing Shane Victorino to give up on the play and raise his hands to the umpires. Apparently, Victorino was not cognizant of the ground rules at Citi Field.

Luis Castillo continued his hot-hitting, going 3-for-4 and raising his average to .321. He remains in fourth place among NL hitters — three points behind the disabled David Wright.

Dan Murphy also had three hits, hitting out of the three-hole (“I bat third”). His efforts also produced a run scored and another driven in. Murph is now 10 for his last 30 with 4 doubles and 2 RBI.

Next Mets Game

The final game of this four-game series begins at 1:10 PM on Monday afternoon. Bobby Parnell begins the game against Cliff Lee.

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Viva Pedro Martinez

pedro-phillie1As if things couldn’t get worse for Mets fans, Pedro Martinez made good in his first start in 2009, allowing the Cubs 3 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings en route to his first win as a Philadelphia Phillie.

Yes, Pedro fulfilled the prophecy of being “only” a five-inning pitcher. But, he doesn’t need to be much more at the back-end of the Phillies rotation. And anyway, how many starters on the Mets not named Johan are a lock to pitch five innings these days?

But who cares, right? The Mets aren’t going anywhere this year, anyway. Pedro would have stolen valuable innings from people who could help the team in the future, such as Tim Redding and Elmer Dessens.

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Pedro Martinez a Phillie?

MetsBlog posted a link to the latino publication Candela Deportivo, which states that the Phillies have made an offer to, or signed, Pedro Martinez.

If true, it’s not surprising — not when the Phillies are sending the likes of Rodrigo Lopez to the mound. Assuming he’s healthy, Pedro can give the Phils 5-6 competitive innings every five days, and can probably win at least half of them (see: Jamie Moyer).

I shudder to think what a Pedro vs. Mets game might look like. You know he’d turn it up a notch.

Personally, I love watching Pedro, even as an aging, mediocre pitcher. Likely, he wouldn’t have made much of a difference to the Mets’ 2009 season, but he would have at least given me more reason to pay attention to the games in which he pitched. I’d pay to see a broken-down Pedro before I’d pay to see Tim Redding, for example.

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