Pedro Martinez

Be Ready for Anything

You never know what is going to happen before or during a postseason series. How a team responds to it may determine if a team wins or loses a series. 

I was reminded of that with another playoff series against the Dodgers. Both times the Mets played the Dodgers, one of their starting pitchers was injured. 

In 1988, Bobby Ojeda suffered a potentially career ending injury on the same day the Mets clinched at least a tie atop the NL East. It threw the Mets postseason rotation off kilter. Dwight Gooden started Games 1 and 4 (on three day’s rest). He wouldn’t make another start in the series. 

I still don’t know what Davey Johnson was thinking. The Mets had a 2-1 series lead. They already won a game in which Orel Hershiser started. Johnson unnecessarily went to Gooden on three days rest, and then he left him in too long. Even more baffling is the fact that Johnson went to Sid Fernandez in Game 5 with the series tied 2-2. 

Honestly, I don’t think Johnson doesn’t make a ponderous decision like this if Ojeda was able to pitch. Ojeda was 2-0 in the 1986 postseason. He stabilized things in Game 3, and he gave the Mets a chance in Game 6. Johnson doesn’t skip his start in 1988, and the Mets probably don’t blow that series. 

Eighteen years later, the Mets again found themselves facing the Dodgers in the playoffs. Again, a key starting pitcher went down. Two days before the NLDS, El Duque, the scheduled Game 1 starter, went down with a torn calf muscle. Keep in mind, he was the second choice after Pedro Martinez suffered a rotator cuff injury

Willie Randolph gave the ball to John Maine. Maine lasted 4.1 innings before hitting trouble. Randolph quickly turned to his incredible bullpen who brought it home. The Mets responded better to the problem in 2006, and they won the series. 

It’s possible the Mets have already been presented with their Ojeda-El Duque dilemma with Steven Matz. Matz slept on a sofa, and he injured his back. The Mets now have a critical decision to make, especially with Matz having a successful simulated game. If he responds well, he may be on the roster. If not, it will be Sean Gilmartin

Whomever the Mets choose, history shows it’s not who you pick that’s important. It’s how you respond to the crisis that’s important. Fortunately, this is one of Terry Collins’ strengths. Hopefully, there won’t be any more surprises. 

Lets Go Mets!

My MVP Vote

As a member of the IBWAA, I have an opportunity to vote for the NL & AL MVP Awards. With the email, there were no instructions. For guidance, I looked at the BBWAA rules, which in summation, are as follows:

  1. The player need not play for a playoff team;
  2. The amount of games played; and
  3. The total value of the player (offense, defense, and character). 

These are good guidelines, but I’m not beholden to them. Here are some other things I intend to consider:

  1. Weight should be given to the player in a pennant race;
  2. A team not making the playoffs is not a penalty to a player if the team is in a pennant race;
  3. Pitchers can be considered for the award. 

Now, I have not made up my mind yet on all 10 slots in the AL and NL right now, so I can’t show you how I will apply my criteria. What I can do is show you my thoughts on past races. 

I agree with the results of the 1998 NL MVP Award. I put more weight to Sammy Sosa beating Mark McGwire even though McGwire had the better year. Sosa’s team was in a playoff race. I think there was enough there to give Sosa a boost over McGwire. Although now, truth be told with what we know about steroids, I think the award should have gone to Moises Alou

I highly disagree with the results of the results of the 1999 AL MVP Award going to Ivan Rodriguez (steroids aside). Pedro Martinez was the best baseball player on the planet that year. His team was in a pennant race. Pudge was maybe the fifth best choice for AL MVP. 

Now, as you may tell I like WAR. It’s not perfect, but it at least attempts to measure offense and defense. It attempts to equate a SS to a 1B. However, I’m aware of its limitations. Accordingly, I don’t see it as the end all, be all of stats. Similarly, I’m not focusing on HRs and RBIs. It’s a balancing.

I’m not done with the balancing yet. Once I am, I’ll submit my ballot. For this site, I’ll publish my entire ballot. I’ll do a short post on why I picked the players I picked to win the award. When and if I vote for Mets, I’ll do a longer post on that player. 

In the meantime, if you have suggestions, please put them in the comments. I assure you I’ll read them and consider them. Thanks. 

Trivia Friday

in 2007, the Mets appeared to be on their way to their second straight division title.  However, this team had pitching flaws, which included a weak bullpen and the need to rest Pedro Martinez down the stretch. Sounds familiar?

Anyway, this week’s quiz seeks the names of all the pitchers who pitched for the Mets in 2007. Good luck!


Thank You Pedro

This weekend, Pedro Martinez will be the 13th former Mets player to be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame (joining his former Mets teammate Tom Glavine). As of today, The Franchise, George Thomas Seaver, is the only player inducted as a Met into the Hall of Fame.

We were all lucky to see Pedro pitch. He was a combination of dominant power pitcher and crafty veteran while on the mound. As I stated in this blog before, Pedro’s 1999 All Star Game start was one of the most memorable All Star Game moments ever. However, that 1999 All Star Game appearance is just a minor footnote to Pedro’s 1999 season where he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP. Naturally, he won the MVP and finished second in the MVP voting (he was robbed). How do you top that? With his 2000 Cy Young season where Pedro went 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.737 WHIP. These are insane numbers that compare with the all-time greats.

My Dad always tells me about Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, and Bob Gibson. He waxes poetic that if Seaver played for good team his entire career, he would have won 30 games per year (he’s not wrong). He tells me about the year Steve Carlton won 27 games on a Phillies’ team that only won 59 games. He told me about Bob Gibson’s 1968 season when he went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA. For my money Pedro was better in 1999 and 2000 than Bob Gibson was in 1968. The reason is Pedro did it in the steroids era while Gibson did it in the Year of the Pitcher.  People talk about Sandy Koufax’s stretch with the Dodgers?  Pedro was better.

Luckily, Pedro became a Met after already cementing his status as a Hall of Famer. Before joining the Mets, he was a three time Cy Young Award winner with six All Star appearances and a 182-84 record and a 2.81 ERA. In 2005, he came to the Mets.  His arrival brought energy and legitimacy to a franchise that was on the decline since the 2000 World Series. I remember when the Mets schedule came out, I looked for what would be his first start at Shea. I remember getting seats in the first row of the upper deck so my brother and I could hang Ks for every Pedro strikeout. I still remember he had seven that day. I still have my Vote for Pedro Mets t-shirt.

It was the first time the Mets had an ace since they traded David Cone to the Blue Jays 13 years before. There is always a different atmosphere in the ballpark when an ace is on the mound. From the first to the last pitch, you are on the edge of the seat. Pedro was that pitcher in 2005. Every fifth day, you felt the Mets had a chance to win. He was electric. Back in a time when this really mattered to Mets fans, he came ever so close to getting a no-hitter. He finished with a 15-8 record with a 2.82 ERA. He led the league with a 0.949 WHIP, and he was an All Star.  As we know Pedro’s last great season was in 2005, and we now know why. He still did have his moments because remember Pedro was a great pitcher and a proud man. He made the All Star team in 2006 and he had one last great start in the 2009 World Series.

Overall, what I admired most about Pedro was that he got the best out of his ability and he kept fighting to be the best. And you know what? For a stretch, he was the best pitcher on the planet. That’s impressive because he pitched at the same time as all-time greats like Randy Johnson (who is also being inducted this weekend) and Greg Maddux. So for all of that, I want to say “Thank you Pedro Martinez.” You were a joy to watch as a baseball player, and you gave it your all when you were with the Mets. When my son is older and he asks me about players I saw play, I will mention you in the same vein as my father told me about Seaver, Carlton and Gibson. That is the best tribute I can give to you. Enjoy your well-deserved honor this weekend. You earned it.

Mets in Same Position as 10 Years Ago

Did you ever hear of the saying, the more things change the more they stay the same? The saying drives me absolutely nuts. Inherently, something that is static cannot also be idle at the same time. However, for the first time I am starting to understand this saying.

I believe this season is starting to resemble 2005. Sure there was some optimism before that season with the signings of Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. This was also going to be the first full season David Wright and Jose Reyes were going to play together. That team also had some holes: Doug Mientkiewicz had a great glove but not the bat to play 1B, Kaz Matsui was being shifted to play 2B after he showed he couldn’t play SS the prior year, and let’s not forget the closer was Braden Looper in a largely ineffective bullpen. However, I don’t know of anyone that expected the Mets to realistically make the playoffs that year.

At that point, the Mets fans were suffering. In 2001, the Mets rallied around the city, but they fell short of making the playoffs in an otherwise disappointing season. In 2002, we watched Steve Phillips attempt to recreate the team as an offensive juggernaut with the likes of Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roger Cedeno. This lead to three years of just bad baseball. Now, the Mets fans were clamoring for a move to be made. We wanted to see Piazza go out on his last year with the Mets with a winner. At the Trading Deadline, the Mets found themselves only 4 games out of the Wild Card.

However, Omar Minaya stayed the course. The Mets made no trades. He kept his bullets for the offseason. If you recall, that was a magical offseason with the additions of Paul LoDuca, Carlos Delgado, Jose Valentin, Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez, Julio Franco, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, John Maine, Jorge Julio (was was then traded in season for El Duque), Darren Oliver, and Billy Wagner. Omar showing restraint permitted the Mets to build that great 2006 team the fans loved.

Now, Mets fans have been suffering longer than they were in 2005, and they are begging for just one bat (which I don’t think will do the trick). While Mets fans were disappointed in 2005, I don’t remember them being a distraught as they are now. I think the difference is trust. We trusted that ownership and Omar would spend the money to get the players that were needed. In fact, they just come off of a spending spree that netted Pedro and Beltran. Now, fans don’t trust that ownership will spend the money. I believe this is the trust gap that is the biggest sense of frustration with this team.

It’s a shame too because I remember 2005 being a fun season. So far, I think 2015 has been gut-wrenching with all the tight, low-scoring games. My only hope is that if the Mets don’t make a move now, they have a plan for what can be realistically accomplished this summer. There will be LF available who can really help the team in the short term, but the market is scarce on middle infielders. My fingers are crossed.  I want to be able to go to a playoff game with my father and son.