Elster's World

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Aint No Denyin'

Four years, $53 million.

When Omar Minaya outbid the Boston Red Sox for the services of Perdo Martinez with more money and an extra guaranteed year, he brought Pedro into the organization for three reasons: (i) to bring a swagger to the team, a collective excitement that the Mets simply didn’t have, (ii) to help lure other free agents into the fold, and (iii) to win big games in October – at least for the first two or three years of the contract.

And on counts (i) and (ii) Pedro did everything and more. Every time Pedro got up on the hill last season, and for the majority of this season as well, the atmosphere at Shea Stadium was electric. It was a happening, a celebration of a master of his craft. He filled up Shea every time he pitched. And for the most part, Pedro delivered the goods. In 2005, his first season with the Mets, Pedro went 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA and 208 strikeouts before arm troubles and a bad toe shut him down in September.

But it was more than the wins. It was his swagger, his absolute fearlessness. This is the same guy who, in the midst of a bitter rivalry with the Yankees, responded to a question about the Curse of the Bambino (on a night where he hit a couple of Yankees and almost started a world war) by saying “wake of the Bambino and I’ll drill his ass too”. Fearless. And that is what made him one of the greatest pitchers in the history of them game.

And his signing lead to all that happened afterwards in 2005. Carlos Beltran signed a huge deal, partially because of Pedro’s trailblazing. Tom Glavine became a number two starter, a role he was much more confident with, and the Mets became a team making some noise.

As the 2006 season progressed, the Mets began to roll past the competition and all of Pedro’s aches and pains seemed of little consequence. After all, there was plenty of time for Pedro to rest up that achy toe, that balky this and that painful that. Then came the tweaked calf. Pedro was shut down again, this time in September.

Still it didn’t matter. After all, the Mets were cruising and Pedro was resting. It was the best of both worlds. He’d be back in time to make 3 or 4 starts, tune up for the playoffs, then pitch the Mets to World Series glory. It was easy to pretend that Pedro was fine as long as the team kept winning without him. The script was basically written anyway. All the better that Pedro was going to do it while not 100% - it made everything more dramatic.

At least that was the plan. Then came a horrendous first outing against the Pirates where he had no fastball and lasted like three plus innings. Then came an “inconclusive” 5 inning job where he couldn’t seem to get his fastball over 84 mph. But still we didn’t panic. He’d be fine.

Then came tonight’s disaster. Pedro lasted 2 and two thirds, giving up 7 runs. His fastball velocity was up, but he had no command. When he did get it over, he was tossing batting practice.

Do you remember in the Red Sox win over the Yanks in the 2004 playoffs? Well, a depleted Yankee team was forced to send out Kevin Brown to start game 7. I’ll never forget when Fox cut to his face when he was tossing his warmup pitches – he looked absolutely terrified. Like he would rather be stuck with AIDS infected needles than have to pitch this game. Well, that’s how Pedro looked tonight. He looked terrified. Because he knew he didn’t have it. And he knew that an entire fan base was watching to see if he did. And now, all of a sudden, we can’t pretend anymore that Pedro will be right for Game 1 of the playoffs; that he is going to ride in with his Superman cape and fix everything with a few masterful curveballs and an elusive 89 mph heater. Instead Met fans are panicking. Who will pitch game 1? Who will pitch game 5? Do we really have to send out a shaky Pedro AND Steve Trachsel? All of a sudden, the World Series seems more like a distant wish than a slam-dunk.

And all because of Pedro. The savior has become the downfall. In the back of our collective minds, we always worried about the whispers out of Boston – that giving Pedro four years was a mistake, he would never last that long. And maybe his shelf life wasn’t even three years, maybe it was about a season and a half. And maybe, just maybe, his shelf life is going to wreck an otherwise fantastic season.

And we can no longer pretend this isn’t happening.

8 Comments:

  • I hate to say I told you so because this is a crushing blow. Instead of getting better Pedro only got worse (I think his ERA is something like 16 for the last 3 games). If I were the Mets I would carry 13 pitchers for the first round, and even then the bullpen will probably be overused.

    I think you said it perfectly and I agree with you 100%. No knowledgable Mets fan can pretend everything is ok. For your sakes I hope Pedro has a graet comeback in the playoffs even if it means the Yankees will be facing Pedro near his best later on because we can beat him then too.

    You hate to put the hopes of the post season on one player, but without pitching they are not going anywhere.

    By Blogger bellanny, at 9:39 AM  

  • 1. This post can be summed up in two words: Pedro sucks.

    2. "If I were the Mets I would carry 13 pitchers for the first round"

    Wow. Thankfully we have Willie and not you, Bellany. You know we don't have the DH in the NL, don't you?

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 10:00 AM  

  • Bell - After reading Pedro's comments after thegame, I think it would be folly to rely on him at all.

    Joe - But didn't I say it with more eloquence?

    By Blogger Elster, at 10:05 AM  

  • we're gonna win a couple of 11-10 games 11 to be exact

    By Blogger Limey2001, at 12:07 PM  

  • Joe- of course I know you don't have a DH! fine, maybe 13 is a drop too many so I'll go with 12. That leaves you with a 5 person bench. But Pedro will definitely be on the roster and if he can only go 3 innings again and the rest of the starters are also very shaky at the moment you need a lot of long relief. As of now it seems like the bullpen will play a big role in every game. Is there even one starter you completely trust right now??

    By Blogger bellanny, at 12:50 PM  

  • Joe- of course I know you don't have a DH! fine, maybe 13 is a drop too many so I'll go with 12. That leaves you with a 5 person bench. But Pedro will definitely be on the roster and if he can only go 3 innings again and the rest of the starters are also very shaky at the moment you need a lot of long relief. As of now it seems like the bullpen will play a big role in every game. Is there even one starter you completely trust right now??

    By Blogger bellanny, at 12:50 PM  

  • Yes - Scott Kazimir.

    By Blogger Elster, at 12:57 PM  

  • But I'm not bitter

    By Blogger Elster, at 12:57 PM  

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