So the Phillies have rowed all the way to the Dominican Republic to watch Pedro Martinez throw a little. I think this deserves a little discussion.
I think that Pedro Martinez, at his best, was better than any other pitcher I’ve ever seen. Better, at his best, than Johnson, than Sabathia, Maddux, Clemens, Kevin Brown, anyone. And at their best, they were all pretty darn good. His six-inning no-hit relief appearance in the 1999 ALDS against Cleveland was one of the best sporting performances I’ve ever watched live. When I was 13, I had tacked on my wall a full-page pictograph from Baseball Weekly about his ridiculous 2000 season.
Here are some of the ridiculous stats he’s put up over his career. There’s the stuff that you’d see on his baseball card: 214 career wins, 3117 career strikeouts, three Cy Youngs, including being the first ever to win the NL and AL Cy Youngs in back-to-back years, a World Series title, eight All-Star appearances, and my personal favorite, 137 hit batters. I love pitchers who aren’t afraid to move a guy off the plate. Except John Lannan…
But then you get into even only the slightly sabermetric stats and you start to slowly crap your pants. Six times Pedro WHIPed under 1.0 for the season in over 100 innings. In 2000, his WHIP was 0.737. In 217 innings. I don’t even know what to say to that. His WHIP for his entire seven-year stint in Boston was under 1.0.
Five times his ERA+ was over 200. Including 291 in that 2000 season. Not even Greg Maddux during his four straight Cy Young years was as good, relative to the league.
But that’s not the pitcher the Phillies would have to shell out a reported $5 million for in order to rent him for three months. Four if we’re lucky. Probably something along the lines of what the Mets got the past three years. Average of less than 100 innings a year, only two games over .500 in that span with an ERA of about the league average. I’d actually suspect that a Pedro in red pinstripes would be slightly better than that, what with only needing to pitch half a season on almost a year’s rest.
I love this for six reasons:
1) WE NEED MOAR PEDROS! It would, with Pedro Feliz, give the Phillies two Pedros (which is one more than South of the Border, the Dillon, S.C. tourist trap that I drove past every year on my way to school. My dad once called it “a Mecca of American pasitche”–that should give you some insight into why I am the way I am). You can never have too many Pedros on a baseball team, I think.
2) The giant extended middle finger. If Pedro does even remotely well, it’ll be a giant F-you to the Mets, the importance of which can never be overstated.
3) A little insanity is a healthy thing. With Brett Myers on the DL (no, not that DL, you perverts), the Phillies have been sorely lacking in the “certifiably insane No. 2 starter” category. Not only did Pedro single-handedly revive the “Lionel Ritchie called, he wants his hair back” joke in New York and Boston, he established that bringing a Dominican midget around the clubhouse was essential to the chemistry of the 2004 Red Sox. I’m in the middle of reading “Now I Can Die In Peace” by Bill Simmons and all these little tidbits keep coming up that prove just how insane Pedro is. If he brings a midget into the clubhouse every day, that alone would be worth the $5 million.
4) He’s not Jason Marquis. With no definite date of return on Brett Myers, the Phillies need another starter. And if you think that Rodrigo Lopez is the answer long-term, you’ve got another thing coming. (Side note: does anyone else think that Lopez looks like a stoned Tony Leung in that picture? No one? Well, I guess that’s just me, then. Moving on.) What’s more, while Moyer and Hamels are going to get better, Happ is going to come down to earth too at some point. The Phillies aren’t going to win another World Series with this rotation. Particularly not if they mortgage the future for Jason Marquis. If they trade for Jason Marquis I’m going to give up and become a Royals fan.
5) If he doesn’t turn out to be Montreal or Boston Pedro, it doesn’t matter. Even if he’s only major-league average pitcher, so what? With this offense (and an excellent defensive team), 3 earned runs over 6 innings are all you need anyway. Let me remind you that these are the same guys who staked Kyle Kendrick, a not-particularly-crafty right-handed pitcher who only struck out 3.8 batters per nine innings, to 21 major-league wins in a year and two thirds. Should have traded him for the hot dog eater while we had the chance.
6) The Jamie Moyer potential. This is the biggest one. During the World Baseball Classic, the younger Dominican players, particularly the pitchers, worshipped Pedro, and he slid right into mentor mode and seemed to love it.
The Phillies are trying like crazy to break the early 1990s Dodgers’ record for “most hard-throwing Latin-American pitching prospects in the farm system at one time.” With that said, wouldn’t it be great to have a legendary pitcher like Pedro around for them to learn under? I’m convinced that the best thing that ever happened to Cole Hamels (apart from marrying the hot chick from Survivor) was having Jamie Moyer around during his formative years to be his own personal Miyagi/wise older brother figure/pitching coach. This happens more than you’d think in baseball. Maddux being the big brother to the 2003 Cubs’ rotation of Prior, Wood and Clement, for instance. Pedro’s been everywhere and seen everything–don’t you think that Bastardo, Escalona and Carrasco would benefit from his tutelage? I think that Pedro bringing out the crazy in Bastardo would make for some extremely entertaining baseball.
So if I’m Ruben Amaro Jr., and my scout tells me that Pedro is even close to major-league material, I sign him right the hell now and bring him up to Philadelphia posthaste. The Phillies signing Pedro Martinez would be like the Flyers’ recent signing of Ray Emery. It might pay off huge, and even if it doesn’t, it’s guaranteed to be entertaining.
My friend Cory Jenks (no relation to Bobby), who lives and dies with the Cubs the same way I do with the Phillies, wrote in on my Facebook page and told me that Maddux didn’t return to Chicago until 2004. I apologize for the error, particularly because I was on Maddux’s gorram baseball-reference.com page to look up stats earlier in the article. Anyhoo, thanks to Cory and I promise this will be my last update/post for the afternoon.