Tag: Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez’s Dominant Prime Makes Him the Greatest Ever

Pedro Martinez, the greatest pitcher ever. 

Not liking him is fine. Not every player in his era did. But denying his dominance at the height of one of the best offensive eras in the game’s history is unjustified.

Even if that first statement is not agreeable, it is not arguable that Martinez is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Anyone who left him off their HOF ballot, regardless of the reasoning, should have his or her privilege reviewed—and then maybe revoked.

Those people are few and far between, though. Martinez, in his first year on the ballot, was nearly a unanimous inductee Tuesday. He received 91.1 percent of the vote, the eighth-highest percentage for a pitcher in the history of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting for Hall of Fame inclusion.

“I don’t want to die and hear everybody say, ‘Oh, there goes one of the best players ever,'” the normally blunt and sometimes cocky Martinez said during the 2009 postseason. “If you’re going to give me props, just give them to me right now.”

No one is great forever. Other pitchers threw the ball for longer, until they were nearly half a century old. Others, including Martinez’s contemporary peers, bested him in the counting statistics. But for the time when any pitcher is considered to be great, for however many years that may be, none was greater than Martinez.

Martinez does not have the accumulation stats of some of his peers, including fellow 2015 inductee Randy Johnson, who picked up his final 57 victories in his final five seasons when he also had a 4.28 ERA and was 46 years old. Martinez retired at age 37 and had not qualified for an ERA title since age 33, injuries sapping him while he still had the ability to be elite.

Injuries may have cut down Martinez’s milestones, but they did not take away the dominance he provided. For a stretch of seven seasons, starting with his final one as a Montreal Expo up until his final one as ace of the Boston Red Sox, the Dominican right-hander was mesmerizing.

From five consecutive strikeouts in the 1999 All-Star Game to his 17-strikeout, one-hit performance in Yankee Stadium, Pedro’s memorable prime, which includes a stellar age-33 season with the New York Mets, was better than anyone else’s.

Of the 15 starting pitchers who outdo Martinez in terms of accumulated WAR for their best seven seasons—they do not have to be consecutive seasons—only three, including Johnson, pitched after 1968, the season dubbed “The Year of the Pitcher” that prompted the mound lowered from 15 inches to 10. One of those is Bob Gibson, one of the pitchers who excelled through 1968 to propel the rule change. Aside from them, good luck finding a color picture of the other dozen who have better peak WAR marks than Martinez.

Those other three post-1968 pitchers threw at least 1,057 more innings than Martinez, greatly helping their WAR totals. But when Martinez’s WAR total is prorated into a 200-inning box, he has greater value than any pitcher in baseball history (hat tip to SI.com’s Jay Jaffe for providing this barometer). His 5.9 WAR per 200 innings is better than Roger Clemens (5.7), Walter Johnson (5.6), Lefty Grove (5.3) and Johan Santana (5.1).

Also, Martinez’s career 154 ERA-plus is the best ever. ERA-plus is a rate stat that values consistency rather than accumulations, such as strikeouts per nine innings, which Martinez is second all-time (10.0) behind Randy Johnson (10.6, minimum 2,500 innings).

Over a seven-year stretch, from 1997 through 2003, no pitcher in his era was better than Martinez by ERA-plus. Randy Johnson included. 

His 1999-2000 seasons came in the midst of the highest-scoring era in baseball since the 1930s. They also came at the height of an era that now polarizes the Hall of Fame of which Martinez is now a member. He pitched in a time when performance-enhancing drug use was widespread and not policed by Major League Baseball. Ballparks shrank, hitters expanded, and offense spiked.

But Martinez got better.

In each of those seasons, Martinez led the league in ERA, Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), strikeouts, ERA-plus, WHIP, hits per nine, home runs per nine, strikeouts per nine and strikeout-to-walk ratio. He won the Cy Young Award each season as well as finishing in the top five of American League MVP voting. He came in second to Ivan Rodriguez in 1999 although it is widely recognized now that Martinez’s season was better and likely helped Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw win MVP Awards.

For as good as 1999 was, Martinez was better in 2000. He posted the best single-season ERA-plus (291) since the mound was moved back to 60’6″ in 1893—his ERA-plus in 1999 (243) is eighth-highest all-time. He finished fifth in MVP voting that season while accepting his third Cy Young Award in four years.

One stat that goes against Martinez’s legacy is win total although we are coming to a point when the majority of baseball people understand there are much better ways to evaluate a pitcher. Martinez did not have 300 wins, making him just the second pitcher since 1991 to be elected without membership into that exclusive club. The other guy, Bert Blyleven, needed 14 years on the ballot and a grassroots campaign to gain induction.

With Martinez’s election this year, we can officially say the big gulp of voters has changed how pitchers and their statistics will be evaluated going forward. At least, we hope that to be true since win totals are so subjective. For perfect instance, Martinez did not get the win on June 3, 1995, when he retired the first 27 batters he faced through nine innings—normally a perfect game had his offense managed a single run during that time.

Physically, Martinez was a marvel. The product of deceptive arm speed, his changeup has an incredible case as the best anyone has ever thrown. He paired it with a mid-90s fastball that was just as deceptive since it came from a frame that was generously listed at 5’11”, 170 pounds. Guys who actually are 5’11”, 170 may laugh at those measurements if they ever stood next to Martinez during his prime. He later developed a slider, giving himself three top-shelf, run-preventing weapons.

He was the combative little guy with the arsenal to slay any monster who stepped into the box.

“Read the story of David in the Bible,” Martinez said in a snippet of an interview that aired on MLB Network on Tuesday. “I’m the David of baseball.”

He was also underappreciated in his prime, as he seemed to be in this HOF vote.

Because baseball did not fully understand or value advanced metrics at the time of his peak, Martinez’s run could not be properly put into historical context. Now it can be. And it is, at the very least, as good as anyone who has pitched before or since.

For so long, names like Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson were the historic pitching barometers. Now is the time to add Pedro Martinez to the list.


Advanced statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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Is John Smoltz Worthy of Being First-Ballot 2015 Hall of Famer?

The chance for debate in Major League Baseball never ends. The individual awards were just handed out, and as if on cue, here comes the announcement for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot ready to provide the next topic sure to spark discussion and more than a little disagreement.

There are plenty of subplots to consider—will Craig Biggio get in after missing by a mere two votes last time? what happens to those with links to performance-enhancing drugs (whether rumored or real)? which players will the ongoing bottleneck hurt most?—but the focus here is on one new name to the list, in particular.

Of the three big-name pitchers added to the this year’s Hall of Fame ballot—Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz—the first two are no-doubt first-ballot entries. The third has a great chance of being voted in too, but his case isn’t quite as open-and-shut by comparison.

As impressive as Smoltz was over his 21 years in Major League Baseball, his accomplishments aren’t on par with those of Johnson and Martinez. That shouldn’t be held against Smoltz, of course, but it does mean he is overshadowed by two better pitchers—heck, two all-time greats—in year one.

That presents the possibility Smoltz might not make it to Cooperstown in his first go-around.

Johnson, who won five Cy Young Awards, including a record-tying four straight (1999-02), finished his 22-year career with 303 wins and 4,875 strikeouts, second most all time behind Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.

Martinez, in his 18 seasons, posted the sixth-best winning percentage ever (.687) and owned a 2.93 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 10.0 K/9. He also won the Cy three times (1997, 1999-00), with his very best seasons at the height of the steroid era in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Those two? They’re getting in, and they’re likely getting upward of 95 percent of the vote as two of the very best in baseball history.

Plain as day, both Johnson and Martinez rank in the top 20 among pitchers, according to both versions of wins above replacement, fWAR (from FanGraphs) and rWAR (from Baseball-Reference.com). They were as good as it gets in their time—and rank right up there all time too.

Smoltz was dominant in his own right, and for a very long time—he’s one of only 16 pitchers with 3,000 career strikeouts—but his career path was quite different from that of Johnson and Martinez.

A huge part of the Braves’ success throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s—remember, they won an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles—Smoltz split his career between the rotation and the bullpen.

While both Johnson and Martinez started at least 85 percent of their career appearances, Smoltz worked in relief in 242 of his 723 games—or about 33 percent.

The switch from starter to reliever came late in his career, after Smoltz underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2000 season. He eventually did return to starting to wrap up his time in the majors.

“When I was playing, I wanted to win more than anything,” Smoltz said via Barry Bloom of MLB.com. “I never really even contemplated any of those decisions when I changed direction in my career for the risk or reward of the Hall of Fame. That never even entered my mind.”

That back-and-forth could work against Smoltz, even if the right-hander was an incredibly effective closer, compiling 154 saves, a 2.65 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in his four seasons in the pen (2001-04).

So could the fact that Smoltz wasn’t the best pitcher on his own team for almost every one of his 21 seasons.

Again, however, that can’t be held against the now 47-year-old, who just so happened to pitch alongside Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine—both of whom earned 90-plus percent of the vote to make the Hall as first-timers last year—for so much of his career.

Now that he’s joining the ballot with Johnson and Martinez, Smoltz is once again overshadowed.

But this is more than just a player who can make a claim as the first—and still only—pitcher ever to have at least 200 wins (213) and 150 saves (154) in his career. Smoltz also won the 1996 NL Cy Young and has one of the very best playoff resumes around.

Only Andy Pettitte, with 19, has more postseason wins than Smoltz’s 15. What’s more, his 209.0 innings check in as the third most, and nobody has more than Smoltz’s 199 strikeouts in October.

And here’s that same fWAR/rWAR chart from above, only with Smoltz’s fWAR and rWAR included too:

By either measure, Smoltz is a top-40 pitcher in MLB history, and he has a case for being in the top 25, at least in the context of FanGraphs.

Here’s where one last wrench can be thrown when it comes to Smoltz’s shot at getting into the Hall, especially on his first attempt.

Not counting Johnson and Martinez, of the 36 pitchers who rate ahead of Smoltz on the career rWAR list, there are six who are not enshrined, including Rick Reuschel, whose career began 16 years before Smoltz’s did and Jim McCormick, whose career dates back to, well, practically the Civil War.

The other four, however, are contemporaries of Smoltz: Roger Clemens (139.5 fWAR/139.4 rWAR), Mike Mussina (82.5/82.7), Curt Schilling (83.2/80.7) and Kevin Brown (73.5/68.5).

This foursome represents a wide range of outcomes on the Hall of Fame voting scale, as Clemens has yet to make it in, only because of his PED-linked past; while Brown surprisingly failed to garner even the necessary 5 percent of votes in his first year and thus dropped off the ballot.

Mussina and Schilling both were stuck in the who-knows 20 percent territory last year and appear to be victims of the recent overload of worthy (or near-worthy) players that has hampered Baseball Writers Association of America voters who can choose only up to 10 players in a given year.

The guess here, though, is that the latter two eventually will get in—and deservedly so—and that Smoltz will receive a boost for his success as both a starter and a closer, even if that’s more superficial than substantive.

There’s also the chance Smoltz will get an extra push from being considered alongside former Braves rotation-mates Maddux and Glavine as well as longtime skipper Bobby Cox, all three of whom were inducted last year while Smoltz was in Cooperstown as an analyst for MLB Network.

“I thought it was one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of,” Smoltz said via Bloom. “I mean that from a standpoint of even if I never get in.”

Smoltz shouldn’t have to worry about never getting in—he will. And it very well could happen on his first shot.

Ultimately, if the question is one of worthiness, when the results are announced on Jan. 6, 2015, Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz all should be in.

But given the number of Hall-worthy candidates still in the mix and that writers can vote for a maximum of 10 players—not to mention that Smoltz isn’t quite the shoe-in Johnson and Martinez are and has a few contemporaries who aren’t yet in—don’t be surprised if Maddux and Glavine don’t see their former teammate join them right away.

Regardless, Smoltz should be prepared to make a speech during the Hall of Fame’s induction weekend. It just might not happen next July.


Statistics are accurate through the 2014 season and courtesy of MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11.

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Pedro Martinez: 5 Teams That Should Sign the Future Hall of Fame Righty

Pedro Martinez has made quite a career for himself. He has toed the rubber for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. Martinez reached the pinnacle of his career, winning his only World Series title in 2004 with Boston.

He currently sits as a free agent, waiting to see if his services will be needed by any of this season’s contenders. We, however, currently sit with zero chance of our services being needed by any of this season’s contenders.

So instead of hoping for the phone to ring, our agent on the other end with a plane ticket to some mythical ballpark in hand, we are sitting here reading about how great Martinez’s career has been and trying to figure out if it will continue, or even if it should continue. If we are being honest, we are also trying to figure out if we could have been in Pedro’s position right now had someone in our childhood not crushed our dreams and forced us into desk jobs.

Hey, I can’t even throw a ball 60’6”, so I’m certainly not beating myself up about it. You, however…you may have actually had some skill and let it slip through your fingers at some point in your life, thus leaving you stuck reading my ramblings instead of trying to convince your GM to sign Martinez for your team’s playoff push.

Let’s see who might benefit from Martinez’s services. If you disagree, then please let me know, and if you agree, then please vote for Pedro and the team you think he should go to in the comment section. I am immediately eliminating the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Lions because one is a football team and together they form a Liger, which is pretty much my favorite animal.

The entire previous paragraph is useless banter written solely to interject juvenile humor from the once popular and never out of style movie, Napoleon Dynamite.

OK, time to get serious. In my opinion it makes zero sense for a team that has no shot at the postseason to bring Pedro to its city. This in mind, I selected only teams that I think will have a chance, however small, at the playoffs and who might be looking for an additional arm to help them get over the hump.

Also, I don’t see Martinez as a closer. He just doesn’t have the arm for that anymore. So this narrows the field just a bit more to include teams that might only need starters and/or setup guys.

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Jered Weaver and the 20 Best Younger Brothers in Major League Baseball History

There have been over 350 brothers to play in Major League Baseball history.

In some of them, the older brother was the better player.  Hank Aaron was easily a better player than Tommie Aaron.  Paul Waner was better than his younger brother Lloyd, but both are in the Hall of Fame.

So, out of all the brothers to play at the major league level, which of the younger brothers were better than their older siblings?

I came up with a list of 20 younger brothers who were better than their older brothers.  Some may surprise you because you may not know they had an older brother in baseball (I know a couple of them surprised me).

This list is not in any particular order, just who I consider the 20 best younger brothers in baseball history when compared to their older brothers.

Let’s start with the active players.

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Pedro Martinez’s Colored Gloves and the 25 Greatest Accessories in MLB History

Baseball has always been a sport based mainly upon tradition. People fear change, and Major League Baseball is no different.

Nearly everything you see on this list comes from the past 35 years or so. Prior to that time, there was little room for individuality in the game. It was about tradition and the team. Players weren’t supposed to bring any added attention to themselves except from their play on the field.

These accessories come in several different categories including equipment, style and habits. Players have been allowed to express their personalities and their individuality during this recent 35 year time frame.

I may have missed something, so if that’s the case please share.

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Pedro Martinez Versus Sandy Koufax: Who Was the Greater Starting Pitcher?

Last week, I compared Pedro Martinez and Walter Johnson to determine who the greatest pitcher of all time was. My answer was Pedro—and it wasn’t even close.

A commenter disagreed, saying, “I love Walter Johnson and think, of the two, he is the better pitcher; but, for me the greatest ever was Sandy Koufax. WJ had a far longer career than Koufax, but that 6 season period (’61-’66) which SK dominated was astonishing.”

So I decided to compare Pedro and Koufax to see if this commenter was right.

As always, first we take a look at Baseball-Reference, and we come up with the following stats:

Pedro Martinez

Three Cy Youngs (and four other top five finishes), two top five MVP finishes, one AL Pitching Triple Crown, 219 Wins, .687 Win Percentage, 409 Games Started, 46 Complete Games, 17 Shutouts, 2,827.1 Innings Pitched, 2.93 ERA, 154 ERA+, 1.054 WHIP, 3154 Ks, 760 BBs, 4.15 K/BB Ratio, 10.0 K/9 and an eight-time All-Star.

Sandy Koufax

Three Cy Youngs (and one other top five finish), one MVP (and two other top five finishes), three MLB Pitching Triple Crowns, 165 Wins, .655 Win Percentage, 314 Games Started, 137 Complete Games, 40 Shutouts, 2,324.1 Innings Pitched, 2.76 ERA, 131 ERA+, 1.106 WHIP, 2396 Ks, 817 BBs, 2.93 K/BB Ratio, 9.3 K/9 Ratio and a six-time All-Star.

A quick glance at these stats shows Pedro leads in 10 of the categories (Wins, Win Percentage, Games Started, Innings Pitched, ERA+, WHIP, Ks, BBs, K/BB Ratio and K/9) and Sandy leads in four (MLB Pitching Triple Crowns, Complete Games, Shutouts and ERA). I didn’t count Cy Youngs, MVPs or All-Star appearances (those awards have changed how they are handled over time).

Without looking deeper, Pedro is clearly the better pitcher. However, you don’t just do a quick look; you need to delve deeper into what the stats actually mean.

Let’s start with the stats we can “throw away.” In the article comparing Pedro to Walter Johnson, I discussed how wins and winning percentage are almost completely out of the pitcher’s hands, so I don’t really look at those stats when comparing players.

Also, the number of the complete games a pitcher throws and how many innings a pitcher pitches are more dependent on how bullpens are used, so those stats can be “tossed out” because they don’t really tell you how great a pitcher was. By doing this, Pedro now leads in six categories and Sandy leads in three.

As I discussed in my previous article, shutouts by themselves are not a good stat due to how bullpens are used today to maintain the lead in a close game instead of just letting the starter go the distance. What really matters is out of the complete games a pitcher had, what was the percentage of shutouts?

By doing some simple calculations, we find that Pedro threw a shutout in 37 percent of his complete games and Sandy threw a shutout in 29 percent of his; so if given the chance, Pedro was more likely to have a shutout, and that now means Pedro leads in seven categories and Sandy leads in two.

The one category that is clearly in Koufax’ favor is MLB Pitching Triple Crowns. His dominance over the league in 1963, 1965 and 1966 is one of the best stretches of dominance in baseball history. Pedro had one Pitching Triple Crown, but his was “only” for the American League. So Koufax will keep this category in his favor; however, I plan on covering who was actually more dominant a little bit later.

The final category that Koufax leads in is ERA. ERA is tricky because the era it happened in has to be accounted for. In Sandy’s case, ERAs in all of baseball were lower across the board. How do we know this? Well, that’s what ERA+ is for.

If we look at ERA+, we see that even though Pedro’s ERA is higher, his ERA+ is much better in comparison. This means, that relative to other pitchers’ ERAs, his ERA was much better in comparison than Koufax’ ERA was in comparison to ERAs of his time. I’d rather have a pitcher with a higher ERA but better ERA+ than a pitcher with a lower ERA but lower ERA+.

The other stats that Pedro has a lead in (Ks, BBs, K/BB Ratio, K/9 and WHIP) further prove how much of a better pitcher Pedro was. He struck out more batters, walked fewer, had better control (K/BB ratio) and struck out more per inning than Koufax did. His WHIP also shows that he allowed fewer baserunners, and the opposing team can’t score runs if it doesn’t get men on base.

Now let’s talk about dominance. This is what I believe is the main reason the commenter made the initial statement that started this article. Koufax’ stretch of dominant seasons of 1962 through 1966 is among the best such periods of dominance in history. However, Pedro also has a similar period of dominance: 1997 through 2005 (minus injury-riddled 2001).

For this conversation, let’s compare Koufax’ ’62-66 seasons to Pedro’s best seasons during his dominant period (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002).

Koufax’ best WHIP was .875 in 1963; Pedro’s was .737 in 2000. Koufax’ best ERA+ was 190 in 1966; Pedro’s was 291 in 2000. During the periods of dominance, Koufax had an ERA+ over 200 zero times, while Pedro had an ERA+ over 200 four times from 1997-2002. Koufax had a WHIP below 1.000 four times, Pedro five.

What this tells us is that even though Koufax is known for those years of dominance, Pedro had a similar period of dominance that was actually better.

The final thing to consider when comparing players is that you have to take their whole careers into account, not just a period of dominance, and this is where Pedro separates himself even further from Koufax.

They both started their careers at about the same age (19 for Koufax, 20 for Pedro); however, Pedro was a much better pitcher from the start, while Koufax’ first six seasons were average—only had ERA+ over 110 one time, and WHIP was never lower than 1.284. Compare that to Pedro’s first five seasons (his sixth season was the beginning of his dominant period), and you’ll see that his ERA+ was never below 117 and his WHIP was never higher than 1.243.

If Koufax’ career was only based on his last six seasons, he would have an argument as the best pitcher ever; however, when you account for his first six average/below average seasons, he drops in the all-time rankings. When you account for all of Pedro’s career, he’s clearly the best starting pitcher ever, and it’s not even close.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you want to make a case for someone else? Please leave a comment with your thoughts. Also, if you liked this breakdown and want to see me compare other players, please suggest them—players at the same position work best, but I’ll compare any position to any position if needed (except pitchers, of course; they can only be compared to each other).

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Was Bernie Madoff Key to the New York Mets’ Success in the 2000s?

As news continues to come out about the Wilpons’ connection to Bernie Madoff, it only seems to get worse. In an outstanding piece written for the New York Times by Serge F. Kovaleski and David Waldstein, the Wilpons’ link to Madoff is examined.

A former Mets employee was quoted saying, “Bernie was part of the business plan for the team.” It turns out that Madoff was a huge part of the Mets business plan. The Mets would place any deferred money that they owed to players in Mr. Madoff’s investment firm (yes, that means that the team will need to find another way to fund paying off Bobby Bonilla’s seemingly endless deferred payments).

Regarding Bonilla, it has been reported that his money was in an account. It is now obvious why ownership was so willing to except the Bonilla buyout. They expected to earn 18 percent on the money they invested with Madoff so they would be able to pay off Bonilla as well as make some money for themselves. This would have required a significantly smaller investment than what it would have cost to buy out Bonilla up front.

A former executive remembered Madoff’s name coming up when the team was negotiating contracts. Could Madoff have had a say in what deals were made or if payments would be deferred? There are a lot more questions that will be brought up as the media learns more and more about the Wilpons’ relationship with Madoff.

The Wilpons’ reach in the Ponzi scheme is also larger than we were initially led to believe. Analysis of Madoff’s 15,000 clients was done by Jamie Peppard, a former financial auditor. She concluded that more than 500 individual accounts could be tied to both the Wilpons and Saul Katz. Fred Wilpon also had at least 17 accounts under his name alone. This makes sense as it was noted that Wilpon recommended Madoff to many of his close friends.

Madoff’s former secretary, Elanor Squillari, noted that the Wilpons, both Fred and his son Jeff, would visit Bernie and his son Mark at the office. She also noticed that Madoff acted differently around Fred Wilpon than he did with the rest of his close friends. As close as Fred and Bernie were, Bernie always treated Fred like a business partner at the office and not like a close friend.

Fred Wilpon also had strong admiration for Madoff. When asked by an employee how Bernie was able to bring back such large returns, Fred commented that Madoff was very creative and smarter than everyone else. It is amazing that such a large organization with so much oversight simply let something like this slip by. One would think that the Mets ownership would have tried to do some research on Madoff and other investors before making multi-million investments. However, it appears that the Wilpons’ friendship with the Madoffs got in the way of their better judgment.

The Mets debt totals have actually increased as a result of the Ponzi scheme. The Wilpons had secured loans using the money in their funds with Madoff as collateral. It appears that the team has nearly $400 million in debt now because the loans had to be refinanced with new collateral. This does a lot to explain why the Wilpons are looking to sell a stake in the team.

It may eventually come up that Wilpon did have some knowledge of Madoff’s scheme or it may be true that Wilpon sincerely believed that Madoff was making legitimate investments. Either way, as an organization, the Mets have been greatly impacted by this. It has become more and more evident this offseason, when the Mets did not spend money on free agents.

One must also think about the impact that Madoff has clearly had on the Mets’ past. Do the Mets trade for and sign Johan Santana without their Madoff money? Does Mike Piazza get his huge deal in 1999 without the Madoff money? Do the Mets bring in Carlos Beltran or Pedro Martinez if they did not have their money invested in accounts with Madoffs?

As despicable as it sounds to make this claim, Madoff may have been part of what fueled the Mets’ success during the 2000s. Without him the Wilpons may not have been able to afford the players that they brought in. If this is truly the case, how will we think of these teams when we look back?  And more importantly, what does it mean for the team moving forward to the future.


To keep up on Mets news check out Mr. Mets Daily and Mets Gazette.

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Oakland Athletics’ Coco Crisp Reveals The Toughest Pitchers He’s Ever Faced

Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp is one of the key players in the team’s pursuit of the American League West division title in 2011. The veteran is entering his 10th season in the big leagues and brings a lot of wisdom and experience to a rather young group.

Crisp started his career with the Cleveland Indians in 2002, before joining the Boston Red Sox in 2006. In Boston, he helped the team win the 2007 World Series. Crisp spent the 2009 season with the Kansas City Royals, before joining the A’s as a free agent in 2010.

During his big league career, Crisp has 941 hits in 3,396 at-bats (.277 average). He’s had some success against the game’s best pitchers. He holds a career .366 average against Mark Buehrle, a .400 average against Justin Verlander and a .289 average against Roy Halladay.

Some notable pitchers that Crisp has struggled against are Jered Weaver (.059 average), Matt Garza (.077) and A.J. Burnett (.105). 

I asked Crisp if he could name the toughest pitchers he’s ever faced in his career. 

“There are a lot of guys that are really good,” Crisp responded. “The pitching is unbelievable nowadays. You’ve got to be on point when you step in that box.”

Here is Coco Crisp’s list of the toughest pitchers he’s ever faced.

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Quantifying Greatness: The Unparalleled Pitching of Pedro Martinez, 1997-2003

I am the first sports fan to admit that statistics spin tall tales as much as they inform.

While number-crunching has allowed us to distill fact from fiction when it comes to performance, stats have also cloaked deceptively bad players under the immunity blanket known as triple crown categories.

Stats are as damning to players as much as they immortalize (see Maris, Roger), and despite several encyclopedic volumes of evidence to the contrary, they are why Yuniesky Betancourt keeps finding work.

But the statistics of baseball have arrived at a crossroads, where the numbers underscore accomplishments that we can’t even see; skills and feats wrapped up inside the very nature of the player.

OBP/OPS/WAR is the new BA/HR/RBI.

Looking back over my young adult life watching the Red Sox play, it’s no great revelation that Pedro was an especially gifted pitcher. For the majority of the Dan Duquette years, he was really the only reason to go see the team on a soggy April day.

Digging deeper, past the awards and the win totals, we find a player who stood so completely above his peers as to transcend the superlatives used to describe him.

Many writers and baseball analysts aptly named him the best pitcher of his generation shortly after he left Boston.

As generous and hyperbolic as that label sounds, it still sells Pedro short and doesn’t really grasp how good this guy was. It’s nice to call him the Best, but I am compelled to defend his honor and try to articulate just how much better he was than everyone.

From his last year in Montreal in 1997, to Pedro’s next-to-last with Boston in 2003, baseball fans were treated to the greatest show on rubber, with all apologies to NASCAR.

In that time, Pedro racked up 118 wins and over 1700 strikeouts. He won three Cy Young Awards, was robbed of another and dazzled NL hitters in the most unforgettable All-Star pitching performance ever.

Tsk-tsk, I had you going, didn’t I?

This article isn’t about wins, hardware or any other subjective achievements. As we saw in 2010, 13 game winners on horrible teams can win Cy Youngs over 21 game winners on postseason clubs.

This article is about the nitty-gritty, invisible, Bill James-ian metrics that take stock of true greatness.

The first obvious stat that makes you take a step back is Pedro’s WHIP. For the statistically uninitiated, WHIP signifies Walks+Hits per Inning Pitched. Essentially, it examines the number of base runners the pitcher allows.

During his prime years from 1997-2003, Pedro allowed a microscopic WHIP of 0.94. A sub-1.00 WHIP means that the pitcher has, over the long haul, more innings without any runners than innings with runners.

This is usually reserved for the elite relievers, given how difficult it is to be so dominant as a starter over 200 innings per year.

Numbers written down have a certain blandness to them and don’t evoke the awe that Martinez deserves, so let me put it another way. Here’s a short list of active pitchers who have never had a sub-1.00 WHIP for even one whole season:

  1. C.C. Sabathia
  2. Roy Halladay
  3. Tim Lincecum
  4. Cliff Lee
  5. Jon Lester
  6. Chris Carpenter
  7. Andy Pettitte
  8. Felix Hernandez
  9. Tim Hudson
  10. Roy Oswalt

Do I have your attention now?

Again, Pedro managed to average a sub-1.00 WHIP and the closer-like stinginess that comes with it for seven seasons. Kudos to Johan Santana, who pulled off the feat twice during his years in Minnesota.

I’d be glad to hear from you about any other recent starters who managed it over a full season.

Another astounding component of Martinez’s game was his ability to pitch with the finesse, as if he didn’t also have the stuff to blow guys away. The combination left many batters with bats on their shoulders and zeros in the score books.

Over those seven years, Pedro boasted a K/9 ratio of 11.3. That is power.

Over the same stretch, he amassed an anemic walk rate of 2.0 BB/9. That is finesse.

In fact, it’s better than Cliff Lee.

Take a look at this hitting line: .197/.252/.297

No, that’s not Cesar Izturis’ career stats. And it isn’t the numbers of a decently hitting pitcher. That is the aggregate BA/OBP/SLG that opponents hit off Pedro from 1997-2003.

Yep, the amalgamated production of the average hitter against Pedro had the contact rate of Mark Reynolds, the patience of Jeff Franceour and all the power of Juan Pierre.

This imaginary player might make a team for the sheer entertainment value of his futility.

But now, I wish to speak of the Year 2000, a year which held promise for all of us at the dawning of a new millennium. In typical Dan Duquette fashion, the Sox starting strong and fizzled late.

But their mediocrity was not a product of the season of Pedro Martinez. Take a look:

1.74 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 11.8 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, Opponents’ BA/OBP/SLG: .167/.213/.259

If any among you think that this is not that greatest modern day pitching performance over a full year, let them speak now or forever hold their tongue. Pedro’s ERA was less than half of what the next best AL pitcher (Roger Clemens, 3.70) accomplished.

The last point I want to make is to remember the era in which Pedro Martinez excelled. The late 90’s and early 00’s saw an emphasis on offensive-minded, “Billy Beane”-style of play.

Run scoring was at an all-time high since the days of Lou Gehrig and the steroid era was bearing the fruit of multiple 50 home run seasons. ERAs were bloated and the careers of many pitchers were cut short.

Through the offensive juggernaut days of 10 years ago, Pedro rose above and dominated baseball. He showed power, control and absolute mastery of the art of pitching.

He was the best of his generation, and we have seen none like him since, though I hope future generations of fans are so lucky.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Los Angeles Dodgers: Power Ranking the 50 Worst Trades in Team History

With the Major League Baseball Hot Stove season almost at its boiling point, many fans across Dodgertown can’t help but recollect the most notable trades in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise.

Since officially moving to Los Angeles in 1958, many player trades occurred that were instrumental in winning nine National League pennants and five World Series championships. However, along with the deals that were beneficial came the deals that were dreadful, and people wonder what may have transpired if a number of these trades could have been undone.

The following slides rank the 50 worst trades in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, as well as offer a bit of commentary for each transaction. Please note that the rankings don’t include any free-agent signings, nor do they contain any deals made prior to the Dodgers moving to Los Angeles. The list is not syndicated in any fashion and it is purely opinionated and subjective.

Although some of the transactions listed may seem more prominent than others, the logic used in the rankings is based on the players ability at that time and into the future, weighted against what the Dodgers actually received in return.

Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride through 52 years of Dodgers history.

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