What Will Phillies Get With Pedro Martinez? (And other news…)

The top story of the All-Star Game break (Barack Obama’s first pitch notwithstanding) was the Phillies giving $1 million to test drive Pedro Martinez.

Martinez, with 214 wins and just 99 losses, was the arguably the best pitcher of the 1990s, but really hasn’t been productive since then (not really, he’s had bouts of productivity in the 2000s – just fewer times).  Let’s just look at the last three years.

In 2006 with the Mets, Pedro made 23 starts, going 9 – 8 with a 4.48 ERA in 132.2 innings.  He still struck people out and had some decent control – but when he got hit, people were taking him deep.  19 of the 108 hits allowed were homers.  Taking the defense and park out of his stats, I show him as being about 9 runs worse than the average pitcher that year – the first time he’s actually hurting the teams for whom he has played.  Injured in 2007, Pedro made just five starts, winning three, and looked okay – 33 Ks in 28 innings, but also 32 hits. 

The Mets thought they might have something to hope for in 2008.  Only that year, Pedro was worse than ever.  In 20 starts, covering 109 innings, Pedro had a losing record (5 – 6), and an ERA that was double his career average (5.61).  He gave up 19 homers again, allowed more than a hit per inning and his strikeout rate fell.   Take the park and defense out of his stats, and he’s nearly 18 runs worse than the average pitcher in his 109 innings.  He was as bad as Roy Halliday is good.

We’re talking about a pitcher who was undependable from a health standpoint (missing about half of his starts), and his fastball isn’t going to blow you away – heck, it’s likely to land in the seats.  In Philadelphia, had he pitched the way he did at Shea in 2008, it’s possible that his ERA would be 7 or 8.  For now, Pedro’s on the DL (strained shoulder, discovered when he passed his physical?), and will essentially be making rehab starts.  He may get a start in the majors – but personally, I don’t want him to get his 100th loss.  Nobody has more pitches in the arsenal than Pedro had in his day, but I’m not convinced that he’s a viable alternative to what the Phillies already have.

In other news…

Pittsburgh reliever Tyler Yates had elbow surgery and will miss the rest of 2009, and could miss much of 2010.  (FoxSports)

Getting help for a tired bullpen, the Twins recalled Kevin Mulvey from Rochester, and sent third string catcher Jose Morales back to AAA.  Morales was hitting .343 with the Twins – now THAT’S a valuable third stringer!  Mulvey came over in the Johan Santana deal, spent very little time at the lower levels in the minors, but has been in AAA for a year and a half.  He’s not bad – could use a little bit better control and strikes out a few guys, but doesn’t look like a great one.  He peaks out for me as a fifth starter, long reliever type.  [ESPN]

Eric Milton’s 2009 comeback season is over following back surgery (herniated disk), but he has no intention of retiring – at least until he knows how his back feels when he’s done healing.  Milton has been resting a tired shoulder and elbow – but had been effective for the Dodgers when able to pitch. [ESPN]

It happened a couple of days ago, but I admit I was sorry to hear that Tony Clark had been released.  I always liked Tony – decent power, willing to work the count, and as a young guy was a decent fielder.  I’m not certain anyone will sign him and give him one more shot, but I’ll miss him.

Johnson, Wang Injure Shoulders; Manny Already Tired

Randy Johnson injured his throwing shoulder while batting in Sunday’s game against Houston. With the All-Star break coming, he’ll likely just miss one start and not need to go on the DL, but you never know. [MLB]

Manny Ramirez’s comeback lasted just two days, as he needed to take Sunday off to rest his legs. Eric Milton, who just came off the DL with back soreness, went back on the DL – which makes me wonder if he really was ready or not – so the Dodgers could recall Blake DeWitt.

This really shouldn’t be news, but it gives you an idea of how dedicated Manny is to the Dodgers. He couldn’t keep himself in shape while he was out, and he chose not to use all ten rehab games to get his wheels back. Apparently it’s hard to run back and forth to the outfield from the dugout between innings. [MLB]

2009 continues to haunt Chien-Ming Wang. Sunday, the Yankees placed Wang on the DL with a strained throwing shoulder – the injury suffered Saturday against Toronto. As of last night, the Yankees were evaluating their options for replacing him in the rotation, and it sounded like Phil Hughes won’t be the guy – at least not right away. [ESPN]

The Florida Marlins looking to bolster their bullpen, signed former Angel Brendan Donnelly. Donnelly will replace Chris Leroux, who went on the DL with shoulder inflammation. [ESPN]

Oakland gave up two prospects (Ryan Webb, Craig Italiano), and a player to be named later to acquire Scott Hairston from the Padres. FoxSports reporter Ken Rosenthal believes that this is a potential sign that Matt Holliday is on the trading block. Hairston is a good fourth outfielder type with some right-handed power. Ryan Webb is barely a prospect who happens to be doing okay in AAA Sacramento right now. He’s never had an ERA under 4.76 until this year. Italiano is better – had a killer year at A Kane County in 2008, and is doing okay at Stockton (A+). At least he has room to grow. To be honest, the A’s didn’t give up much to get Hairston.

If you haven’t seen this year’s All-Star Game rosters, give MLB’s coverage a look-see.

Welcome Back! Josh Hamilton returns Monday (Chris Davis was sent to AAA Oklahoma City to teach his bat to make contact), Phillies reliever Scott Eyre, Angels outfielder Reggie Willits, Yankees reliever Jonathan Albaladejo.

Hurry Back! Padres catcher Henry Blanco has a strained hamstring, earning a DL trip. Jose Lobaton gets the call from AAA Portland to be the backup catcher. The undrafted free agent has bounced around the minors and has been better when given stable work – but still really isn’t a prospect.

Cards Add DeRosa, Cleveland Fire Sale Starting in June?

The St. Louis Cardinals acquired Mark DeRosa from the Cleveland Indians for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later.  DeRosa will help fill some offensive holes on the Cards, for sure.  With an injured Troy Glaus, the Redbirds have tried Khalil Greene and Joe Thurston at third – which hasn’t worked out.  Thurston is hitting .230, while Greene is at .205.  DeRosa will likely spend most of his time there.  However, DeRosa can play four other positions, including corner outfield spots that have been manned by the disappointing Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick.

Since the Cards have gotten solid starting pitching from four rotation spots and have three or four decent relief options, including converting Ryan Franklin from a failed starter (12 – 31 with Seattle in 2004 and 2005) to a stunning closer (18 for 19 in saves with an 0.93 ERA), Chris Perez – a future closer – was expendable.  This seems like a very good move for St. Louis.

For the Indians, it looks like stage one in what surely will be a sell-off.  Could Kerry Wood be for sale?  Perez has closer stuff – his major league numbers show 72Ks in 65.1 innings – though he could improve his control and hasn’t been consistent as a closer when given save opportunities.  At a minimum, he’s going to be an eighth inning option and could be groomed for closing in 2011 or sooner.

On the Crime Watch…

FoxSports is reporting that Dodgers relief pitcher Ronald Belisario was arrested on suspicion of a DUI.

J.C. Romero was apparently heckled for his steroids use, and so he allegedly grabbed and shoved a fan.  Robert Eaton was brushed off by other Phillies players when he asked for autographs, so he asked Romero to “get him some steroids.”  After a second steroid comment, Romero went after Eaton.  Sounds like two idiots hooking up for an intelligent conversation.  Anyway, Romero’s outburst does little to dissuade people that those on the juice have anger issues.

Is Ken Rosenthal a Journalist?  Or Just a Well-Paid Blogger?

Just a couple of weeks ago, the fine professional journalists of FoxSports went after a blogger for trying to disprove that Raul Ibanez’s hot start for Philadelphia was tied to PEDs.  In short, the blogger said he didn’t have enough data to suggest that it COULDN’T be PEDs, but didn’t say that Ibanez was using.  “Unprofessional!” the smart people on TV called him.

Now, Jeff Pearlman writes for Sports Illustrated that A-ROD’s poor performance now that he’s done using steroids suggests that he wasn’t all that good without them, that Manny may return to hitting like a middling 37 year old outfielder.

I’m not arguing about the premise, but merely asking the question that many people wonder about with the democratization of information provided by internet access.  Is the only difference between a real journalist and a pretend journalist merely who pays his salary?

Welcome Back!  Houston activated Geoff Blum from the DL, Eric Milton returned to the Dodgers.

Hurry Back!  Toronto optioned reliever Brad Mills to AAA Las Vegas.  He’ll be back soon enough.  Seattle’s Adrian Beltre heads to surgery to remove bone spurs from an achy left shoulder.  He’s expected to miss six weeks.

Your Weekend Update

The New York Daily News reports that Alex Rodriguez, who skipped two games this weekend in the Yankees series with the Florida Marlins, will be rested at least one game each week for the next month.  The plan was suggested by A-Rod’s surgeon, Marc Philippon, but Sports Illustrated’s John Heyman says that GM Brian Cashman made the final call.

C.C. Sabathia left Sunday’s start against the Marlins with soreness in his left biceps.  Despite this, Sabathia says he won’t miss a turn in the rotation.  During the game, catcher Jorge Posada said the big lefty’s pitches lacked their normal velocity.

Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka went on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury (soreness is what is listed), but manager Terry Francona suggests that 15 days may not be enough.  Dice-K is 1 – 5 with an 8.23 ERA in eight starts.

Cincinnati shortstop Alex Gonzalez heads to the DL with bone chips in his throwing elbow.  Surgery will be required.  It’s been a rough couple of years for Gonzalez – minor injuries this season, following a 2008 season that was lost to a compression fracture in his left knee.

Mets Centerfielder Carlos Beltran’s right knee continues to bother him, and so he’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

The Cubs placed pitcher Angel Guzman on the DL with a right triceps strain.  Kevin Hart gets the call from Iowa.  Acquired from Baltimore, Hart has been solid at AAA Iowa, and hopes to have a better run with the Cubs this year than in 2008 when he went 2 – 2 with a 6.51 ERA.

The Red Hot Rox sent pitcher Manny Corpas to the DL with bone spurs in his throwing elbow.

On the Mend?

The Phillies got some good news – Brad Lidge could be activated this week if Lidge’s knee continues to feel solid.

Dodger pitcher Eric Milton heads to a rehab assignment, as does Atlanta’s Greg Norton.

Texas closer Frank Francisco returned to the lineup this weekend.

Finally, Toronto sent struggling Joe Inglett to AAA Las Vegas and recalled Russ Adams, a former starting shortstop who has been playing the outfield and may be a good utility type for the Jays going forward.  Adams was a first round pick, had a decent rookie season, but his fielding became problematic and it affected his hitting.  His career has actually been going backwards for five years, so this is a good “restart” for Adams, and I’ll be rooting for him.

Ready for the Draft? Hamilton Set for Surgery, Others on the Mend

Major League Baseball readies for the draft – and you can get updates in any number of ways, including Twitter (@MLBDraft).  The MLB.com site, for which I am a shameless plug (it’s a great site, really), will have updates and commentary.  And, MLB TV (if you have a premium cable outlet) will have wall-to-wall coverage on its flagship station.

Ultimately, the top question is whether or not the Nationals want Stephen Strasburg (they do – he throws 102 with pinpoint control of at least three pitches), and whether or not they can pay for him (Scott Boros is his agent).  Jerry Crasnick (ESPN) thinks this could be one of the great wars in Player/Team negotiations.

Having thought through this, I think the Nationals should sign him.  And, at that point, babying the investment goes out the window.  Strasburg gets three starts in the minors at AA and if he wins, he goes right into the rotation.  His contract should be based on major league innings – he cannot receive the full salary if he’s not on the major league roster.  Then, once Strasburg arrives, he gets USED and ABUSED.  He pitches every fourth game, and the Nationals get every inning humanly possible out of that arm.  I’d make him throw 300 innings by his third season – the Nationals need to get moving and in a hurry, there’s no need to treat him like a prospect – especially if he’s getting established player money.  He wants ace money, he walks in and pitches like an ace.  Or he doesn’t get paid.

I think that’s a fair trade.  If Strasburg wants every penny that the Nationals can afford to give, Strasburg has to give the Nationals every inning he can afford to give.

Additionally, if he FAILS – and the annals of draft history are paved with failure at the top pick – it could set back the amount of money given to hyped draft picks, which would be good for everyone involved.  Nobody, including Boros, will be able to ask for tens of millions and get it because of the “Strasburg incident.”

Josh Hamilton will have surgery to repair a partially torn abdominal muscle – no fun – but could be back after the all-star break.  In addition to the hole in the lineup, what fun will be the Home Run Derby without the guy who set the Derby on fire last season?  No matter who  plays, there will be a loss of production – sort of – no replacement will be as good as Hamilton was last year, but Hamilton has been more than ordinary so far this season fighting off injuries.  And, Hamilton really can’t cover centerfield as well as most centerfielders.

Texas is also losing starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy to a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder – the second time this has happened since 2007.  Taking McCarthy’s spot in the rotation for at least one turn will be Doug Mathis, a Texas farmhand who has decent control but not much of an out pitch.  He’s been lights out in Oklahoma City in his last four starts, though, so he’ll get a shot.  Mathis isn’t a BAD pitcher, but he was smacked around some in 2008.  And, he’s been hurt in the minors on at least two occasions.

Other DL trips include: Casey Kotchman (ATL), Calf; Eric Milton (LAD), Back; Luis Perdomo (SD), Knee.

On the Mend? Evan Longoria was back in the lineup for the Rays.  Hanley Ramirez plays through a sore groin for the Marlins, Miguel Cabrera is back for the Tigers.  Jose Contreras returned to the White Sox from Carolina.  Guys heading to rehab trips include: Khalil Greene (STL); Donald Veal (PIT); Pat Burrell (TB); Robinson Tejada (KC); Rich Harden (CHC) heads to Iowa.

Barry Bonds has another legal issue to deal with.  His wife filed separation papers; a divorce is imminent.

Moyer’s Milestone and Hamilton is Hurt (Again)

Jamie Moyer, left for dead about 15 years ago, won his 250th game Sunday night against Washington. I always liked him – he’s a poor man’s Tom Glavine, and now they have about 555 wins between them. Guys like Moyer need a few breaks and he got his with Baltimore, putting his career back together in the minors, and then getting tossed to Seattle where they needed someone to eat innings. He not only ate innings, he put batters to sleep, winning 20 twice and last year getting a ring. I have all his Topps baseball cards and will flip through them again tonight before I crash.

Wouldn’t want to be on Cleveland right now with everybody going down to injuries. I mean, Carl Pavano is DUE, right??? I mentioned earlier that Grady Sizemore’s elbow was bothering him. Now he’s on the DL with what is defined as left elbow synovitis. Victor Martinez might be next.

Zack Greinke’s ERA went over 1 (1.10) in a no-decision against the White Sox. The bullpen tanked for the Royals. Joakim Soria may be back this week, and it’s not a moment too soon.

Meanwhile, backup catcher John Buck gets a DL stint with a slight herniation in his lower back. Ouch. Brayan Pena gets the trip from Omaha in his place.

The first to twenty homers is San Diego’s Adiran Gonzalez. The Marlins gave up on this guy because, at the time, they had Derrek Lee and other options, but boy can he hit.

The Yankees haven’t made an error in 17 games, tying a ML record.

The struggling Josh Hamilton crashed into a wall a few days back, but since then has had a stomach injury that will require an MRI.

Eric Stults, who had pitched so well in place of Hiroki Kuroda, goes to the DL with a left thumb injury. His replacement, Travis Schlichting, is a converted third baseman who’s making quick strides in the minors but may not be ready. Stults injured his thumb making a diving play on a slow roller. I like Stults, and hope he’s right when he says he’ll be back soon.

Donald Veal is going to Pittsburgh’s DL. I never heard of him either. With ten walks in five innings, he’s straining more than just his groin.

On the mend? Kyle Lohse may return to the Cardinals soon, and J.C. Romero’s PED suspension is nearly over, meaning time to get pitching for the Phillies again.

May ends with the Yankees, Detroit, and Texas leading the AL – who would have thought Texas would have the best record in the AL? Boston, trailing NY by a half game, would be the wild card rep.

In the NL, Philadelphia has now edged ahead of NY, Milwaukee leads a strong NL Central, and Los Angeles is running away with the West – I was way off on that one. They won’t win 108 games (current pace), but they are getting a lot of mileage out of odd places. Eric Milton and Jeff Weaver were left for dead and they are contributing now. Miracle, really. St. Louis would have the wild card in a very close race with NY, Cincy, and Chicago.

NOTE: Transaction and Injury Data from MLB.com’s Players/Transactions Page.