Pitching for the Dominican team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Pedro Martinez is basically auditioning for a job this season with a major league team. In his two appearances, Pedro has tossed six shutout innings, allowing one hit while striking out six.
Even my 11-year-old son can limit the Netherlands team to one hit in six innings, although he needs to work on getting his slider over the plate more.
Although it is still early in the baseball season, Martinez had decent velocity, but his command was somewhat off in that first appearance. That also has something to so with it being early in the season. Pedro missed his spots many times in that first appearance, with only the inexperienced hitters of the Netherlands giving him break after break.
Not to belittle Pedro’s stat line, but real major league hitters would have mashed many of those pitches.
Why does Pedro want to return? What does he need to prove in the Major Leagues? That he can come back from injury? He already did that after returning after his major shoulder injury in 2001. After that setback, Pedro had one of his best overall seasons in 2002, going 20-4 with a 2.26 ERA and a second place Cy Young finish.
Also, during the 2007 season, he returned in 11 months from rotator cuff surgery, going 3-1, with a 2.57 ERA in five starts down the stretch for the Mets.
Does Pedro need the money? Going out on a limb here, but I think no. According to baseball-reference.com, Pedro has earned over $146 million in the majors. But, he will not pitch for a Tom Glavine type deal of only a million dollar base salary.
“If I wanted to pitch that bad, I probably would,” Martinez said about agreeing to a low guarantee comparable to Glavine’s. “But I don’t think I’m in that stage. I believe I’m very comfortable. I’m not going to let anybody disrespect my abilities or the way I am. I wouldn’t say I would want to pitch that bad.”
Other statements Martinez has made, though, indicate he will take that type of money if it can get him into another World Series.
What will that get him? More prestige? Martinez is universally recognized as the best pitcher of his generation and one of the best all time! What more does he need to prove?
From 1997 through the 2005 season, Pedro pitched eight full seasons. During those eight seasons (over nine years), He was 142-50 with a 2.39 ERA, averaging 18-6 per year or a .740 winning percentage. His WHIP was a minuscule 0.974 over 1,805 innings. Over this time he won his three Cy Young awards, finished second twice, third and fourth once each.
He had two 20 win seasons, including an incredible 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 0.923 WHIP in 1999. The following year Pedro was even better in every aspect of pitching but wins and losses, going 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA with an all time best single season WHIP of 0.737. That is the all time best!
In five of his eight seasons during this stretch, Pedro allowed less than a runner per inning pitched.
It is a small wonder how he lost 50 games during this time.
This period compares very favorably with Sandy Koufax’ six year run from 1961-1966, widely considered one of the best stretches of pitching in the modern era. Koufax’ WHIP was 1.041, his ERA was 2.34 and his 129-47 record computes to a .733 winning percentage, just about the same as Pedro’s.
Pedro’s .684 winning percentage is the third highest of the modern Post WWII era, behind only Whitey Ford’s .690 and Don Gullett’s .686. He entered 2008 tied with Ford, but Pedro’s off year reduced him to Show status. Pedro’s career WHIP of 1.051 is fifth of all time, behind only Mariano Rivera’s 1.020 after WWI, and just ahead of Christy Mathewson (1.059) and Walter Johnson (1.061).
Pedro has won a World Series and has been involved in many memorable post season games. He came in relief against Cleveland in Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS, and threw six no-hit innings to lead the Red Sox into the ALCS.
Also, he was the starting pitcher in the classic Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox, culminated by Aaron Boone’s HR off of Tim Wakefield. For Martinez, the game doesn’t have to be victorious to be remembered as a classic.
His overall postseason record is 6-2 with a dominating performance in his only World Series start, going seven innings, allowing three hits and no runs.
He has made his millions, pitched in dominating fashion, led his teams to postseason success and won several handfuls of individual awards. He is a no doubt, first ballot Hall of Famer.
He even suffered through the tragedy of losing his beloved father during the season last year. He repeatedly said that family means everything to him. Then he should leave the game behind to spend more time with your family.
Why the need to pitch again? Everything has been proven on the mound by the man. He doesn’t have it anymore and there is no reason to prolong his career. There is nothing worse in baseball than witnessing an aging veteran giving it a final shot to retain some of the glorious past.
Seeing a great player struggle at the end allows the memory to focus on the harsh end, when it should be focused on the brightest part of the career.
One other reason exists why Pedro should give up his quest for the Majors.
There are 21 pitches who have a career record of 100+ games over .500. Cy Young’s 511-316 puts him 195 games over .500, the highest difference in history. With a career mark of 214-99, Pedro is also part of this club.
Of the 110 pitchers who have 200 or more wins, there is ONLY ONE PITCHER who has less than 100 losses.
Pedro Martinez with 214 wins and only 99 losses. How great would that look all time for people to see?
That’s why I was actually pulling for the Mets last year to at least tie the score in that great Chicago Cubs game on September 25, 2008. That is the one where Cubs rookie Micah Hoffpauir went 5-5, with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s helping lead the Cubs to a 6-3 lead over the Mets and Martinez, the starting pitcher.
But the Mets came back, taking Martinez off the hook and allowing him to be the only pitcher in major league history with 200 or more victories and only double digit losses.
A career record of 214-99.
And that is the main reason why Pedro Martinez should retire. Leave that legacy for all to see.
You have done enough, just don’t do one more.