Pedro Martinez Gets his Number Retired

You can say what you want about the Red Sox struggles on the field, but the one thing they can do is throw a ceremony. Whether it’s raising a championship banner, or honoring an ex-player as they did Tuesday night with Pedro Martinez, they do a very good job of throwing a celebration.

Last night it was Pedro Martinez’s turn to get honored after being formally inducted into the Pedro MartinezHall of Fame on Sunday. Before the game Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox, the now-Hall of Fame pitcher had his number retired by the Red Sox. Pedro joins Ted Williams, Johny Pesky, Carlton Fisk, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski as the only Red Sox players with their numbers retired. Illustrious company, to say the least, when it comes to Red Sox history. He also joins Jackie Robinson up there, who’s number 42 is retired throughout baseball.

As for the ceremony itself, which I was lucky enough to attend, it started with a countdown of career stats on the center field screen. This included, but not limited to, his career win-loss record, strikeouts, and much more. It also involved visits and presentations from ex-teammates Orlando Cabrera, Trot Nixon, Curt Schilling, Ralph Avila—who first discovered Pedro Martinez and his brother Ramon, and former Expos manager Felipe Alou who managed the team that Pedro first rose to prominence on. The best one, though, at least in my mind, was when Pedro called out Jason Varitek ahead of schedule. Varitek was supposed to come out to catch the first pitch, but Pedro called him ahead of schedule in very Pedro-esque fashion, stating that it was his party.

After his number was unveiled below the right field roof deck, the ceremony ended with a video highlight tribute, again shown on the center field screen, set to the song “Hall of Fame” by The Script, which was a great way to cap off another remarkably well put together ceremony by the Red Sox. It sure gave me chills, and it also succeeded in making me forget the struggles of the Red Sox at the present moment.

At least, that is, until the actual game started. The Red Sox ended up losing to the White Sox behind a 9-run outburst and a great outing by White Sox pitcher Jeff Samarzdjia. A late rally in the 9th would fall well short, but the Red Sox never really stood a chance, not with the way the team has been playing this year.

Oh, well. At least the ceremony for Pedro Martinez was worth the price of admission, even if the actual game wasn’t.

Remembering the Career of Pedro Martinez

Forget the negatives of a terrible season for now. Let’s talk about Pedro Martinez for a second. Earlier this year, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and the Red Sox will be honoring him with a special ceremony on Tuesday before they take on the Chicago White Sox. The ceremony will invlolve Pedro getting his number retired by the Red Sox organization, among other things.

Pedro will be formally inducted over the weekend in Cooperstown, which should give Red Pedro Martinez HOFSox fans some reason to smile. Pedro Martinez spent 7 years here in Boston, won a World Series in 2004, and created a lot of memories along the way. Some of my fondest memories of my earliest years of being a Red Sox fan involved my uncle unexpectedly coming over and taking me to see Pedro pitch. That was always fun, especially during the ’99 season, with a seemingly unhittable Pedro en route to striking out 300 hitters; a season that culminated in him pitching 6 perfect innings in the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. That was also the year the All-Star game was held at Fenway Park. Pedro pitched 2 scoreless innings in that game, striking out 5 of 6 batters he faced. That included Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Jeff Bagwell—some of the best in the game at that time.

And then there was 2004 when he helped us break the Curse of the Bambino. For Pedro, that culimnated in a 7 inning scoreless performance against the St. Louis Cardinals—one of his best individual performances in a Red Sox jersey—after he had struggled earlier in the playoffs. That game put the Red Sox within 1 game of winning the Series, and within one game of breaking the curse. He was simply outstanding in that game. It was a vintage Pedro Martinez game, when the Red Sox needed it the most.

Pedro ended his career with 3,154 strikeouts and ultimately was a worthy addition to the Hall of Fame. Whether you are a Red Sox fan or not, you simply have to appreciate the greatness that was Pedro Martinez.

Red Sox Unveil “Franchise Four”

Around the MLB, teams unveiled their “Franchise Four,” the 4 best players in franchise history as voted on by the fans. For the Red Sox, David Ortiz, Ted Williams, Pedro Martinez, and Carl Yastremski were chosen.

All of those guys have their merits, and all of them are legends in their own right, but the Red Soxone player that I would question is David Ortiz (no, this isn’t about him being sent home Sunday). We all know what he’s done with his bat, especially in the playoffs. He had a number of clutch hits in 2004, helping the Red Sox break the “Curse of the Bambino.” In 2013, he was a one man wrecking crew in helping the Red Sox top the Cardinals in 6 games that year. This is all subjective, but I would question the wisdom of putting him ahead of guys like Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk and other such Red Sox legends. My main reservation is that he hardly ever played defense, but you could make the reverse argument for a Luis Tiant and a Pedro Martinez, who only pitched and hardly ever hit.

But, again, this kind of thing is always subjective and people will always have their own thoughts on this. Ultimately, David Ortiz’s impact on this team in the past decade plus is undeniable, and he does have a strong case to be up there. Without him, we don’t win 3 championships in a decade and break the Curse. He also is making a push for 500 home runs this season, which would be huge for him.

For me, the other guys are no brainers. Ted Williams was the only guy to hit over .400 in a season, Pedro Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history, and Yaz finished his 22 year career with the Sox with 452 home runs and a .285 career average. But, it is hard to narrow the Red Sox Mount Rushmore down to 4 guys, and everyone will have their own opinions on who should be up there, especially with so many guys to choose from.

AL East Could Be Open Again

The Red Sox are doing it again – playing well enough to make me think they could go on a run. The Red Sox have gone 5-2 in their last 7 games against AL East opposition, and have won 3 of their last 4 series (8-5 overall). Which includes a series victory against the defending AL champs, the Kansas City Royals, by the way.

If they want to have any chance at making a run, Gordon Edes points out that they wouldAL East Red Sox 2015 have to go on a ridiculous tear worthy of what the 2004 Red Sox did. Hypothetically, if 90 wins were enough to win the AL East, the Red Sox would have to go 53-28 for the rest of the season. As Edes points out, the only time the Red Sox have been able to put together that kind of run since the schedule moved to 162 games in 1961 is when they went 54-27 down the stretch in 2004 en route to a World Series title.

Could they do it? Talent-wise, they might (key word being might!) be able to. In reality, though, probably not, given the way this season has gone. The problem, as Edes points out (and I agree with him), is that the 2004 team was loaded – they had Curt Schilling (still in top form), Pedro Martinez, the best 3-4 offensive combination at the time in David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, and a Gold Glove infield, among other pieces. The 2015 team falls woefully short of that, to say the least.

They’ll have to make a few trade deadline deals and fill some of their holes if they want to have any shot of contending for the AL East this year, and I hope they do. If they can make a few moves without breaking their farm system while fetching good, major league-ready talent in return, then I’d be for it.

This could just be me starting to tell myself that there’s still hope where there is none, but I hope not. I’m sick of losing, and I would love to see the Red Sox at least make some kind of effort to get back into contention for the AL East. And hope some of the other guys

Hey, I can dream, can’t I? We’re only 6.5 out at the moment.

Pedro Martinez To Have His Number Retired by the Red Sox

Pedro Martinez, one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox and Major League history, will have his number 45 retired by the Sox this season.  The ceremony will take place on July 28 during a game against the Chicago White Sox.  It is an honor that is seldom given by the Sox, but one that is greatly deserved by one of the all-time greats.

Martinez spent seven seasons with the Sox from 1998-2004, and rarely did he disappoint.Pedro Martinez He was always a fan favorite, including being my favorite Sox player ever, because of his great attitude toward the game, and the city of Boston.  He will always be remembered for his final season with the Sox, when the team won their first World Series title in 86 years, and while doing so came back from down three games to none against the hated New York Yankees.  That comeback will probably be seen as the best comeback in sports history forever.

But it wasn’t just that season that gave Martinez his reputation as being one of the best.  I believe that even if the Sox hadn’t made that great comeback (thank God they did though), Martinez would still be receiving this honor.  He recorded an overall record of 117-37 with an ERA of 2.52 during his time with Boston.  But even with how great of a pitcher he was in the regular season, it seemed that he would always step up his game in the playoffs.

Though Martinez is best-known for his time with the Sox, he played for four other teams (L.A. Dodgers, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies) during his 18 year career.  He had an overall record of 219-100 with an ERA of 2.93.  These numbers were good enough to put Martinez into the Baseball Hall Of Fame this year, which was his first time being on the ballot, an honor that is only given to the greatest.

Martinez will be the ninth number that the Sox have retired.  He will be joining other Sox greats Bobby Doer, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk, as well as Jackie Robinson’s number 42 which is retired throughout the entire MLB.  With all the great players that have come through the Sox over the years, it is clearly a high honor to be only the eighth Sox player with his number never to be seen again on another player.  It really should be a memorable ceremony for the great man and pitcher, Pedro Martinez.

PawSox Closer Heath Hembree Seeks Opportunity

Heath Hembree

When the Boston Red Sox dealt Jake Peavy, the front office felt as though they made out like bandits scoring Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. Since Peavy was not a fit for Boston, the San Francisco Giants coughed up a young starting pitching prospect in AAA and a reliever who scouts liken to a potential set up man— possibly even a closer.
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heath hembreeRelief prospects are always an interesting breed, especially when they have not started a game since sophomore year in college. That is what the Red Sox have in Heath Hembree, although stamina is not really an issue for him.

Headed into his fourth year in AAA, Hembree looks to take on the closers role for the PawSox after notching the save in their first game of the season.
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“For us in the bullpen, it’s about going out there to compete and getting our work in,” he told Yawkey Way Report.

For a lot of guys, the ninth inning poses a bit of a threat. Some guys just can’t handle the pressure and blow save after save even if they are lights out in other innings. It’s a different mentality and a delicate mindset. Hembree tries to keep a consistent approach.

“I take every inning with the same mentality,” he said. “I try to put the same amount of importance on it each time out and when it is a tight situation, it seems pretty normal—just like any other outing.”
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In 2012, the Red Sox found out the hard way that a team cannot simply take a pitcher and expect him to be a good closer. Last time they tried that, they destroyed Alfredo Aceves’ career. After going 24-3 in his first four big league seasons with a 2.93 ERA, he is 7-13 with an ERA well above 5.00 since the Red Sox tried him out in the ninth inning role.

At that same time, Hembree was in AAA looking for an opportunity. This year, he hopes to earn a spot in the Red Sox bullpen if anything happens to any of the regulars.

“Just to continue developing,” Hembree said when speaking of his goals. “I want to become the pitcher I want to be, just working on my stuff and hopefully I can get out of here.”

Even though closers tend to take things one inning at a time, Hembree made his Red Sox debut by stretching out his arm in a 19 inning thriller. Boston fell in the contest 5-4, but Hembree gave the Red Sox four scoreless frames.
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“That was the first time I had pitched more than two innings in my whole career and I guess in that situation, since it was my first time with Boston, it was about making a good impression on the big league club,” he said. “They just kept sending me back out there and I gave them whatever I had in me which turned out to be four innings. For that, I was just trying to help the team, but making a good first impression was important too.”

Hembree owns a 2.55 ERA in 15 career big league games and when the Red Sox need an extra arm in the bullpen, the righty is on the short list of guys who could possibly get the call. After all, his 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his Minor League career are convincing—not to mention much higher than Pedro Martinez’ career mark of 10 K’s per nine frames.
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Posting a 6.27 ERA his junior year at the College of Charleston, the Giants still took him in the fifth round in the 2010 MLB draft because of his raw talent. He stated his fastball flirted with 100 MPH back then, although he sits comfortably now at around 93-94 MPH, usually topping around at 95 MPH. The fastball is still an important part of his game, but he also utilizes his slider in what can be best described as a two-pitch mix.

“I’ve learned how to pitch these past few years so if the fastball is there that day that’s good, but I feel comfortable with the stuff I have,” he said.