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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
In Boston, there has always been some type of controversy following Pedro Martinez. Part of this is because Pedro is an honest guy, and makes a great interview. I admire people who won't bullshit and I always love listening to Pedro speak his mind. As a result, he will say things that stir up controversy and the media will jump all over it. Lately, most of the Pedro that we hear (when we do hear him) is him making a push for a new contract. He knows that he is the best pitcher in the league, and he wants a contract extension that guarantees him some security and pays him as the best pitcher in the league.
There are a suprising number of Sox fans and writers who try to detract from Pedro any way they can, and their points are getting a lot of airplay recently. Mostly, they center around the injury risk, which is valid. I will get to that a little later, but the point that people bring up that I just don’t understand is somehow insinuating that Pedro has lost effectiveness and is now "not even that good anymore".
Obviously, Pedro isn't giving the Red Sox the same performance as in 1999-2000, but this hasn't stopped him from being the best starter in the league, by a healthy margin. Baseball fans got spoiled in 99 & 00. We were witnessing one of the greatest two year span of pitching in the history of the game. I wish I could remember exactly where I read this, but a little while back (Gammons maybe?) someone looked at the greatest seasons of all time. They compared performance not only to a players biggest competition, but also to the league average. Babe Ruth's season when he hit 60 HRs and out-homered all seven AL teams ranked #1. Pedro's 2000 season was a close second. Stop for a minute and let that sink in.
Koufax, Ryan, Williams, Mays, Aaron, Cobb, Wagner, Bonds, Henderson, Young, Musial, Gibson, Hornsby, Mantle and all the rest..........
Nope. For a single season its Ruth, and then its Pedro.
As JBH over on Sox Therapy kindly pointed out to me,
the difference between his ERA+ and the #2 guy [Jason Schmidt] in the majors, was the same as the difference between Barry Zito and Mike Mussina and a league average pitcher. Or if you prefer, it was bigger than the difference between Bartolo Colon and John Burkett.(An ERA+ of 120 means a pitcher is ~20% better than league average and an ERA+ of 80 means a pitcher is ~20% worse) Pedro's career ERA+ is 174, (closest competition: Maddux & Johnson at 143) and his last seven years look like this: 221, 160, 245, 285, 189, 196, 212. His league ranking the six years he qualified in, ERA+: 1,2,1,1,1,1; K/9: 1,2,1,1,1,1; H+BB/9: 1,2,1,1,1,1. Damn you Clemens for screwing up a 6 year run of #1's.
It is time to stop expecting so much out of Pedro. How many times do you expect a pitcher to be able to put up seasons that rank close to the best of all time? Take Pedro for what he is: the best pitcher in the league in the tail end of his prime. So what if he hits the DL once a year, and can only pitch 180 innings. Take what you can get and stop being so greedy, and stop complaining about how his velocity is down. We hear this every year, but Pedro has pitched at 88-92 every year since his injuries in '01, and uh, well, see the above stats for how its worked up until now.
If I were Theo (IIWT..…sort of like my WWTD bracelet), I would make a careful evaluation of the established level you expect Pedro to perform at over the next 3-5 years. To me this is no worse than the top tier of pitchers in the game, and at best is #1 for a couple more years as he begins to tail off. Then I would figure out just what 180 IP of that pitcher is worth on the open market, and I would offer him a yearly contract that exceeded that number by $2-3M per year. Off the top of my head, I think a 4 yr $60M contract extension would get it done and would return excellent value.
I am afraid that watching Pedro these last seven years has been sort of like Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter. Brady will never know just how good he had it until he plays on the mediocre teams that are sure to follow. Likewise, baseball fans won't understand just how good Pedro was until he is gone. He provided us with my vote for the greatest post-season performance until Josh Beckett spoiled us last year. In my lifetime, there is Pedro, there is Greg Maddux, there is Roger Clemens, and then there is everyone else. Nobody in their prime came close to Pedro, and its likely we won't see another pitcher like him for quite some time.