Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Who Loves Pedro Martinez? ESPN, That’s Who!

by: The Last Hollywood Star

Pennsylvania’s other baseball team---the one that won the World Series last year and not three decades ago--- made a big splash recently when it signed Pedro Martinez to a one-year, $1 million contract.

The Phillies sent Martinez to the mound last Wednesday in Chicago against the Cubs. He hung on to qualify for the win in the Phillies 12-5 romp.

But as Martinez’s post-game rave reviews came pouring in, I wondered if the talking heads watched the same game I did.

Two ESPN analysts, Eric Young and Rick Sutcliffe, were surprisingly effusive. Young rated Martinez’s performance as a “B” while Sutcliffe evoked Sandy Koufax’s name during his paean.

What gives? Martinez’s pitching line was awful: 5IP, 7H, 3ER for an ERA of 5.40

In the fifth inning, Martinez gave up three hits and two long, long outs that pinned the Phillies’ outfielders to the wall. Had any of them fallen in or if Martinez didn’t need to complete the inning to qualify for his cheap win, he would have been yanked. With an eleven run lead, Charlie Manuel had a lot of leeway.

As for Martinez throwing 64 of his 99 pitches for strikes, which the analysts made a big deal of, what else would an experienced pitcher milking a comfortable lead do?

Martinez makes his next start Tuesday night at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a less threatening team offensively than the Cubs. But Martinez will have trouble in hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.

I don’t expect Martinez to fare well against the Diamondbacks. But even if he should, I can’t imagine him playing a meaningful role in the Phillies’ World Series quest.

If you’re weighing the good versus the bad personnel decisions that the Pittsburgh Pirates made this year, put down passing on Martinez on the ledger’s plus side. Of course, management’s decision may not have been based exclusively on what Martinez might have contributed.

There is the matter of money and how much of it the Pirates would have been willing to part with. Post-Freddy, Jack, Adam, Nate et al, we now know how little the team would have been willing to gamble financially on Martinez.

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