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Newz Forum: BASEBALL: Pedro done for Year!!!

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posted on Sep, 28 2006 @ 09:47 PM
Pedro Martinez's injury plagued season came to an end -- less than a week short of the playoffs.

The New York Mets learned Thursday that their ace is done for the year with a torn tendon in his left calf muscle.

Instead of pitching Game 1 in next week's NL division series, Martinez will be in the early days of a four- to six-week recovery period. While surgery won't be necessary, there's no chance of the three-time Cy Young Award winner pitching again in 2006, even if the Mets make it all the way to the World Series.

"It's going to be sad because he's not here," Julio Franco said after the Mets' 7-4 victory over Atlanta, which snapped a four-game losing streak. "But we have to do it with the guys we've got, like we've been doing it the whole season."

Martinez returned to New York after getting knocked around badly in his final start of the regular season Wednesday night, a 13-1 loss to the Braves. An MRI showed a tear in the left calf -- different from the right calf injury that recently put him on the disabled list for a month and was thought to be his major concern.

"He did mention (Wednesday) that he felt some pain in the other leg," general manager Omar Minaya said.

The Mets managed to win their first NL East title since 1988 with Martinez (9-8) battling injuries most of the season. He was bothered in spring training by a sore toe, went on the DL at midseason with an ailing hip and fell short of 10 wins for only the second time in his 14-year career.

"We've had a little bit of a cloud of uncertainty wondering: Is he healthy? What's the rotation? Who's pitching?" left-hander Tom Glavine said. "A lot of that stuff goes away now. We can start focusing on who the guys are who are here, who are going to be able to pitch, who are going to try to help us win. That is going to be helpful for us mentally."

Orlando Hernandez will start Game 1 in the best-of-five division series, the slot that was supposed to go to Martinez. Glavine will go in Game 2.

Manager Willie Randolph said he hasn't decided on the rotation beyond the first two games at Shea Stadium.

"It stings a little bit," Randolph said. "Geez, we'd love to have (Martinez), but it is what it is."

The Mets wrapped up the division title with nearly two weeks left in the regular season and looked to be a strong favorite to reach the World Series from a league that will have no other playoff team with 90 wins.

But, with Martinez out, New York would appear to have one glaring weakness: starting pitching. Beyond Hernandez (11-11) and Glavine (14-7), the other potential playoff starters are Steve Trachsel, whose 15 wins are mitigated by an ERA of nearly 5.00, and six-game winner John Maine, a rookie.

"Losing a marquee name, that always hurts," closer Billy Wagner said. "But it's time for Trachsel or Johnny Maine to step up and be that marquee pitcher."

Martinez lost his last four starts -- the first when his right calf began hurting, the last three after coming off the DL. He looked downright awful against the Braves on Wednesday night, giving up eight hits, seven runs and two homers in 2 2-3 innings.

"It's taken a lot away from me: my confidence and the location of my pitches," Martinez said before leaving Atlanta. "When you don't have the legs to push off and create velocity and locate your pitches, you're in trouble. And I can't locate right now."

Martinez conceded that it would be tougher for the Mets to advance in the playoffs without him, though they've made it this far without a big contribution from their top starter.

"When I'm out or hurting, obviously we're not going to do as good," Martinez said. "Any time you lose a No. 1 pitcher, one of your five starters, it's going to hurt you a little bit. But these guys are professionals. They know how to do things. They've done really, really well without me. I hope they can do that again and pick me up during the time I'm limited or away."

Martinez posted a 16.97 ERA over his last four starts, giving up 22 hits and 20 earned runs in 11 2-3 innings.

"Obviously, the other guys are in better shape than I am right now," he said. "Everybody can see that. I think it would be a bad decision for Willie to put me out there the way I look now."

When Martinez first strained his calf muscle, he didn't think it was that big a deal. Now he knows better.

"It affects my shoulder, it affects my legs, it affects my back. It affects everything, really," he said. "Those legs are everything. Without them, it's impossible to get the result you want."

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posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 03:20 AM
This is a sad story, and part of a bigger, very sad story.

Pedro Martinez is, on an inning-for-inning basis, the greatest pitcher of all time. And it's not close. Lefty Grove's Adjusted ERA is 48% better than that of the average pitcher of his time, with adjustments made for his atrocious home parks, etc. That makes him better than all retired pitchers and better than all active pitchers other than Pedro, but even he's not close to Pedro.

So, Pedro clearly COULD have been the greatest pitcher of all time. Four or five years ago, that's what I was sure he was going to be. But injuries have cost him portions of seasons, including the vast majority of one season when he was still clearly the best in the game, and then they've made him into a six-inning pitcher, and now comes this year: off to a great start in April, but never the same pitcher since then, and now done for the year as the playoffs are just around the corner and his team really needs him as their leader.

Pedro has the greatest single-season Adjusted ERA of all time, which is a huge statistic. (Greg Maddux, by the way, has the second AND the third best.) There are, in my opinion, six pitchers you can make a rational case for as having had the greatest PEAK periods of all time: Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Walter Johnson, Robert Moses "Lefty" Grove, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver. That's probably my order for those six in peak value, although I have a real hard time putting Dead Ball'er Johnson ahead of Grove on ANY list.

But it will be awfully hard for anyone to make a case for Pedro as the greatest CAREER pitcher of all time, given what's happened. Yeah, he's got the phenomenal W-L %, but it's taken a hit this year and may no longer be much better than that of Grove, with a hell of a lot fewer wins. Since Grove won 9 ERA titles in 17 years in horrible lefties' ballparks (compared to Pedro's 5), there's no case to be made for putting Pedro ahead of Grove in career value, and I frankly wouldn't want to make the case for putting Pedro ahead of Clemens (7 ERA titles) or Maddux or probably Johnson in career value, either, given what's become of him.

But it's all quite sad, at least to me. I guess if you're one of the many who hate the guy, it's a good feeling to see him deprived of what clearly would have been the title of "Greatest Pitcher Ever," but this is a guy who very clearly had the chance to earn that title, and in our lifetimes. At one point, his career Adjusted ERA was 174. That's over 50% further above average than the Adjusted ERA of Lefty Grove, whose Adjusted ERA of 148 is the #1 of all time, not counting Pedro's.

That is the sort of preposterous statistical domination associated solely with Babe Ruth, and it reflects just how magnificently superior a pitcher Pedro was in his prime. Nobody will ever be able to take his peak statistics away from him, but it saddens me that his body has betrayed him. I've heard people say that in light of his spare size, this sort of betrayal was written in stone, but that's just not so. Lefty Grove was 6'3" and weighed only 170 pounds, making him skinnier than Pedro by a good bit. Despite being held back on that g.d. privately-owned minor league team until he was 25--costing him 60 to 100 major league wins and probably 2 or 3 more ERA titles--he lasted until he was 41 and won ERA titles in Fenway at ages 38 and 39. Yeah, Pedro's not anything like 6'3", but his skinny body didn't mean it was inevitable he'd break down the way he has.

How very sad for baseball history. Historians will "what if" about Pedro forever.



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