Archive for Pedro Martinez
The Hot Stove League will soon heat up, but as a bright November weekend dawns in the City of New York, Yankee fans are still recovering from their collective World Series hangover. To that end, we have a few stories for your Saturday reading pleasure.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that Major League Baseball players are young kids who are struggling to adjust to a world very unfamiliar to them. Subject to more debates over the last 2.5 seasons than any 24-year-old should, Joba Chamberlain has been growing up in the New York spotlight. Starter, reliever, overhyped or not, Joba has heard it all. When the Yankees won the World Series on Wednesday, Joba and his dad shared a moment captured by photographers and Yahoo! Sports’ Big League Stew author Kevin Kaduk.
The story is a great reminder about how baseball is about families. It’s about how baseball is about the people and how the players we analyze, the players we admire and the players some people criticize are, at heart, just people similar to you and me. At ‘Duk writes, baseball is always about a father having a catch with his son, and Joba and Harlan had the joy of sharing a baseball moment this week that doesn’t come around too often.
While Joba and Harlan had their hug, Pedro Martinez was feeling less than happy about the game. After his Game 6 defeat at the hands of the Yankees, Pedro tried to duck out on reporters. The media throng cornered him in the hallway, but he would speak only in Spanish to them. One fan taunted him with a chant of “Who’s your daddy?” but Pedro was clearly upset about losing the game. Beating Pedro made this World Series victory even sweeter.
For Tyler Kepner, 2009 marked his eighth season covering the Yanks and their first World Series under his watch. From World Series losses to 0-3 ALCS comebacks, it has been a tumultuous few years in Yankeeland, but as Kepner wrote on Wednesday night, this World Series restored a “peaceful, easy feeling” to the Bronx. No team has won more games in the 21st Century than the Yankees have and now they have their title to go with it. It has indeed been a peaceful time for Yankee fans.
Later tonight, the Yankees and Phillies will take to the field in the Bronx for Game 6 of what has been a very compelling World Series. Tonight’s game will pit Andy Pettitte and his 17 postseason victories against a reinvented Pedro Martinez. During the regular season, these two pitchers have faced each other six times, and the Yankees were 4-2 in those games.
For the Yankees, this will be their second crack against Pedro, and tomorrow’s game should be a bit more serious than the Game 2 pitcher’s duel. During Game 2, the crowd soaked up Pedro Martinez, and Pedro Martinez soaked up the crowd. Chants of “Who’s your daddy?” rang through Yankee Stadium from the first pitch to the last, and as Pedro left the mound, he smirked at adoration from the crowd.
After the game, Pedro’s press conference featured Pedro being Pedro. He talked at length about his relationship with the Yankees and New York. “If I was on the Yankees, I’d probably be like a king over here,” he said after Game 2. “I know they really want to root for me. It’s just that I don’t play for the Yankees. I’ve always been a good competitor and they love that. They love the fact that I compete.”
In addition to these hyperbolic comments, Pedro gave his thoughts on New York parenting. Although FOX replays showed no words coming out of Pedro, the Phillies’ right-hander claims he was shocked at the words spewed forth from the stands. “It’s a new Yankee Stadium, but the fans remain the fans,” Pedro said during a rambling post-game press conference. “I remember one guy sitting right in front, in the front row, with his daughter. He had his daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff. I just told him, ‘Your daughter is right beside you. It’s a little girl. It’s a shame you’re saying all these things.’ I had to stop and tell him because I’m a father myself, and God, how can you be so dumb to do those kinds of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?”
Pedro didn’t stop to tell anyone anything. Instead, he embellished to seem more like an entertainer than a pitcher. We go to the park to see Pedro pitch, win, lose or draw, he thinks.
That has to end tomorrow. As 7:57 p.m. rolls around, Yankee fans can’t let Pedro enjoy himself on the mound. He is expecting a world of “Who’s your daddy?” and he is expecting to be half-loved and half-jeered. Let’s give him a proper Bronx jeer. Let’s just boo and boo and boo. The love-hate relationship should disappear into the meaning of Game 6, and we should remember the Pedro who went head-hunting against Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter, not the Pedro who wishes he could have been a Yankee.
Nearly 11 months ago, I called upon the Yankees to sign Pedro Martinez. At the time, I judged it to be a low-risk, high-reward signing that would have given the Yanks a veteran arm mid-way through the season. Now, with the World Series in the balance, the Yankees will face off against Pedro Martinez. Once, we might have wanted Pedro Martinez. Tonight, we want to beat him. Let’s do it — and show him New York’s tough love. No one deserves it more.
Just in case a World Series match-up with our I-95 neighbors to the south isn’t fun enough, the Phillies announced today that Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 of the World Series in the Bronx. Pedro last made an October start in the Bronx in 2004 when chants of “Who’s Your Daddy?” filled the air. I’m expecting a similar scene on Thursday night.
I think we can wrap up the ongoing saga of Pedro Martinez. According to GAKIII’s sources, the Yankees will be passing on Pedro. As previously reported, the Yankees were interested in using Pedro for depth if he would take a Minor League contract. Martinez though has stressed his desire for a Major League deal and a spot in a team’s rotation. These were clearly incongruous demands. Meanwhile, if no teams are interested in hiring the one-time flamethrower who now sits at 86-90 with his fastball, he says he will become a swimsuit model. That I would not love to see.
Yesterday afternoon, we examined the news that the Yanks plan to watch Pedro pitch today. The team could always use another arm, and I said yesterday, it doesn’t hurt to kick the tires.
Ken Davidoff and Steve Zipay have a little bit more info on the Yanks’ interesting the former Met hurler. While Pedro wants a prorated $5-million deal, the team would sign Pedro only to a Minor League contract. Odds are slim that the Yanks’ one-time arch-nemesis — and prodigal son — lands in the Bronx.
In other rumor news that’s making its way across the Yankees’ corner of the Internet, when asked about being a free agent, Jonathan Papelbon, a shrewd businessman, did not rule out the Yanks. Speaking on Sirius XM’s MLB Home Plate channel, he expounded on his thoughts on pitching in pinstripes:
“Oh, of course. I mean, I think if we can’t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean, I think that’s pretty much the writing on the wall. If they can’t come to terms with you they’re letting you know that, ‘Hey you know what? We can go somewhere else.’ And I think it’s the same way on the other side, ‘Hey if ya’ll can’t come to an agreement with me then I can go somewhere else.’ Not only in the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility.You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can’t just be one-sided and think that, ‘Oh I’m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career.’ Because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there’s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what’s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’m wanted and play on a team where I’m wanted and that’s all I can really say about that, you know?”
For Papelbon, as it is with hundreds of other MLB players, it’s all about the money. For him to say he would never pitch in the Bronx is to give up a prime bargaining chip. I doubt though that Yankee fans would ever have to stomach the sight of Papelbon dancing some dumb jig in his Yankee skivvies.
Pedro Martinez, after a strong showing for the Dominican team in the WBC, remains a free agent this year. He’s no longer the Pedro of the late 1990s, but to me, he seemed to be throwing free and easy against the international competition. Meanwhile, as the spring has stretched onto summer, Pedro is holding auditions in the DR. According to Gordon Edes, Yankee scouts will watch Pedro throw on Friday.
This is definitely interesting and intriguing news. As Edes notes, the Yankees are concerned with their pitching depth in light of an ineffective Chien-Ming Wang, and Pedro would help them shore up that hole. With Brian Bruney back and Phil Hughes providing some solid pen work for now, the team’s bullpen presents fewer concerns than it did a few weeks ago. So Pedro would be something of a luxury. While I pondered Pedro in January, I can’t see the team really finding a place for him. He won’t be guaranteed a role, and it’s doubtful whether he could still succeed in the AL East. It never hurts to kick the tires though.
Now that the Mets have signed Livan Hernandez, the team does not expect to resign Pedro Martinez, and the MLBTR community is wondering who will. A month ago, before the Yanks brought Andy Pettitte back into the fold, I advocated taking a flier on the one-time Yankee nemesis. I’d still say give him a look. Bring him to camp for the depth. If he looks good, I’m sure the Yanks could find a trading partner, and if not, they can just cut him loose. It won’t happen, but it’s an interesting thought at least.
By most accounts, the Yankees could use a back-end starter who can eat innings in 2009. While they have CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Ching-Ming Wang up front, having two of Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Ian Kenned, Phil Coke, Chase Wright and any other youngster the Yanks trot out there fill up 70 starts while pitching the Yanks toward a playoff berth may be a tall order.
To that end, there’s a certainly a reason to bring Andy Pettitte back into the fold this year, but that soap opera has seemingly reached a stalemate. Pettitte doesn’t want to take a $6-million pay cut, and the Yanks don’t want to sign a pitcher turning 37-year-old in June and coming off his worst season of his career to a lofty contract. I don’t blame them.
In the meantime, the Yanks have alternatives. Derek Lowe remains unsigned. He, however, wants a few years and $15 million per before affixing his John Hancock to a contract. Ben Sheets is still unsigned as well, but teams have concerns about his health.
There is another pitcher out there, also 37 and coming off his worst season. As John Garica notes, Pedro Martinez could be an intriguing option for the Yanks. It’s not as outlandish as it sounds.
Last season was not one of Pedro’s finest. He was coming off of major arm surgery and got lit up. He threw 109 innings in the NL and gave up 127 hits, 19 of which were home runs. He walked 44 and struck out 87, his worst K/BB ratio since 1993. Over his final 40 innings of 2008, opponents hit .321/.379/.500 off of the former Cy Younger winner (while striking out 38 times). No matter how you slice or dice it, those are ugly numbers.
So Pedro is looking to rebound in 2008. Maybe he’s the guy the Yankees need in the back end. He could be their John Smoltz, a low-risk, high-reward type of signing. Considering that the only Pedro rumors this off-season were either his own desire to return to New York and some quickly quashed Marlins rumors, I would think that the Yanks could swoop in and sign Pedro for a low base salary with incentives.
It might not be the answer to the innings gap, but the Yanks don’t have much — other than money — to lose. Pedro could make some starts, and if he’s healthy, he’ll fill that 4/5 whole in the rotation. If not, the Yanks seem ready to rely on the kids anyway. And, hey, then maybe we could all go back to wearing these shirts again. Crazier things have happened.
While waiting for the Sunday afternoon Yankee affair to begin in Seattle, I flipped on the first game of the Mets-Phillies day-night doubleheader. As I watched that Phillies’ victory unfold, my thoughts landed on the Mets’ starter, not long for the game, and I thought that I could be watching the end of an era.
Pedro Martinez didn’t make it into the fifth inning on Sunday. He threw just four innings and allowed six earned runs on seven hits and a walk. In a very un-Pedro-like fashion, he struck out just one Phillie. That loss would drop Pedro to 5-4 on the season with a 5.44 ERA. In 91 innings, he has allowed 18 home runs while striking out just 68, and he is Pedro in name only.
In two months, Pedro Martinez will be out of a job. His four-year deal with the Mets expires at the end of the season, and after various injuries and surgeries, he will have made around 80 starts for the Mets. For $53 million, they probably expected more.
Now, Pedro will probably get a decent enough contract offer for next year. He’ll be 37 come opening day, and this year’s troubles could be attributed to his rebounding from arm surgery. But no matter what, Pedro is not the Pedro from the days of Who’s Your Daddy? chants. He’s a different pitcher, no longer feared and not nearly as effective as he was while on Boston.
For me, this realization that Pedro is nearing the end is a somber one. In a way, it’s just a part of the changing of the guard in baseball. The kids grow up, they get old and they lose it. Baseball is fleeting; it takes away the skills of the very best after just a few years, and all that’s left are shells of what they once were. Rare are the Jamie Moyer’s, Mike Mussina’s and Mariano Rivera‘s, pitchers who have maintained their effectiveness and, in Rivera’s case, dominance well past the usual expiration point.
When Pedro was on the Red Sox, I always wanted the Yankees to face him, and it wasn’t because they somehow managed to find ways to beat him. I wanted to watch Pedro pitch because what he did was an art. Remember September 10, 1999, nine years ago from tomorrow? That was the day the Yanks went 1 for 27 against Pedro, and he struck out 17 hitters. The Yanks scored a run on a Chili Davis home run, and Chuck Knoblauch reached on an HBP only to get caught stealing. It was dominance.
Over the years, Pedro would win some and lose some against the Yankees. But always the games would be fun. He would be cocky on the mound and a joker in the dugout when he wasn’t pitching. Pedro, a member of the hated Red Sox, will always be a part of the years of Yankee dominance. He was the best pitcher in the league during the years when the Yanks were the best in the biz, and he couldn’t do anything about it. But he gave it his all every time out much to my delight.
While Pedro once said that, to the Yankees, he just tips his cap and calls them daddy, I’ll have to tip my cap to Pedro when he finally retires. It was a pleasure watching him do his thing against the Yankees during his heydays on the Red Sox, and I’m sorry to see this era end as Pedro’s flame is seemingly dying in a hurry.