The ballad of Clay and Pedro

September 5th, 2007 → 10:48 am @ // 11 Comments

I tend to have inauspicious timing when it comes to taking time off: I was in North Carolina when the news broke that the Sox had won the Dice-K sweepstakes and I was getting married when Buchholz threw his no hitter. (Note: this does not mean that I will be on my honeymoon should the Sox make it to the World Series.) This deprived me of the chance to write many breathless posts about Buchholz’s composure, the fact that on a weekend in which Pedro returned to the mound for the first time in 11 months the most exciting baseball involving someone with “Pedro” in his name came from Dustin “DP” Pedroia, or how the past four-games have served as a good illustration of the Sox’s front office philosophy.

Actually, that last point can be illustrated in a way that will encapsulate everything else I wanted to talk about. There were a handful of mentions over the last several days about just how Buchholz happened to arrive in Boston: he was the chosen with the sandwich pick the Sox got in the ’05 draft after Pedro signed with the Mets. At the time, Pedro was hailed as the savior of the Mets; over the next two years, as the deficiencies in the Sox’s pitching became more and more apparent, Theo et al were excoriated for letting the most exciting pitcher, well, maybe ever, decamp for Queens; they were also excoriated for any number of other supposed sins. (To quote one example, chosen at random: “…there have been many bad decisions since [the World Series] – letting Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon escape to New York…Matt Clement, Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez, and the long-term contract for puzzling Josh Beckett, for starters,” from Phil O’Neill’s Worcester Telegram piece, “Epstein to blame for Boston’s downswing,” August 27. 2006.)

O’Neill, needless to say, didn’t revisit this topic over the weekend; nor has anyone else, as far as I can see. (I also haven’t seen O’Neill revisit his labeling the Beckett signing a “bad decision,” but I haven’t looked all that hard, either.) If you’re interested in just how horrendous Pedro’s three-year, $40-mil contract has been thus far, consider this comparison: since arriving at Shea, Pedro has started 54 games (and 354.7 innings) and gone 25-16 for a .610 winning percentage. Matt Clement, surely one of the Sox’s most disappointing signings of the last several years, has started 44 games (and thrown a total of 256.3 innings) and gone 18-11 for a .620 winning percentage. Put another way, Pedro’s been paid approximately $1.6 million per win and about $113,000 per inning; Clement has gotten a little less than $1.4 mil per win and about $98,000 per inning. I’m not pointing this out to illustrate how great Matt has been but how piss-poor Pedro has performed. (I’ll avoid getting into this too much, but I do feel compelled to point out the following: Pedro’s arm injuries could have been predicted; Clement getting nailed in the head with a ball traveling well over 100mph could not have been.)

As I was saying, pretty much all of this backstory has been ignored as Boston has reveled in the afterglow of Buchholz’s no-no…pretty much, but not entirely. Take Rob Neyer’s piece on ESPN, which I’m pointing out for reasons other than the fact that he very graciously refers to the ways in which Feeding the Monster addressed just these very issues in a section on the non-signing of Pedro in December of 2004. Neyer may be the only writer to lay out in plain English the implications of not overpaying Pedro many, many millions of dollars: “Because the Red Sox ‘lost’ Martinez to free agency, they were were awarded the 42nd pick in the 2005 draft, and they used that pick to draft Buchholz. So for the Red Sox, the Mets’ profligate offer to Martinez was a wonderful gift, and one that should keep on giving for a number of years.” Indeed. In fact, I’d bet Clay’s a gift we’ll all be talking about long after most folks have forgotten why he ever put on a Sox uni in the first place.
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Post Categories: 2007 Season & Clay Buchholz & Pedro Martinez & Rob Neyer & Sports Reporters & Theo Epstein

11 Comments → “The ballad of Clay and Pedro”


  1. johnw

    6 years ago

    As far as I can tell from a quick Google search, Phil O’Neill hasn’t published a mea culpa for his take on Josh Beckett (or Theo, for that matter). But he did pick the Red Sox to win the World Series this year, so apparently his opinion of pitcher and organization have shifted somewhat.

    Reply

  2. rln2433

    6 years ago

    After the 2004 season Theo had a decision to make. Overpay Paydro and Lowe or look at other means. He chose Clement and Wells instead. While those signings didn’t work out so great in the Sox’s favor, keeping a drunk and a diva wasn’t going to work either. Paydro couldn’t beat the Yankees any longer and Lowe was far too erratic. While it certainly didn’t help that the defense sucked, he simply couldn’t focus on pitching. At the time of the signings, Wells was still an effective pitcher and Clement had good stuff. Both had previously pitched the same amount of innings as Paydro and Lowe.

    We all know how things worked out but the biggest lesson here is how crucial it is for an organization to develop pitching and to hold on to it instead of having to make the choice to sign expensive free agents that have a whole lot of warts. I will give the front office credit for focusing on pitching (we will forget about Hansen). People can gripe (with good reason) about overpaying Lugo and Drew but in the AL you have 10 positions that have to get you nine innings a game. Drew costs 14 mil but he’s out there (for worse or worser) every day but the starting pitcher position is comprised of 5 guys plus relievers and that costs a whole lot more. When you are stocking the rotation with overpaid FAs then the real cost is actually $60-70 million a year for that job.

    Congrats on getting married. A wise man once gave me a great piece of advice. Know when and how to say as little as possible and you can stay happily married for a long time.

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  3. rog

    6 years ago

    Thanks for saying something that gnaws at me almost every time I read Boston Dirt Dogs or CHB. No accountability for these riduculous predictions and shit-stirring columns…ever.

    For example, after the Sox traded WMP to the Nationals, BDD had a blurb that said “Wily Mo-vin’On to the Nationals for a Player to Be Named Later. So, That’s What Theo’s Scouts Ended Up With For a Then-Hot-Property Bronson Arroyo? Nice Job Fellas.” First of all, how ‘hot’ has Bronson been this year? Hmm? He’d be in the pen or in the minors right now if he was still in Boston and his ERA would be off the charts. He’d be the guy you went to if Kyle Snyder didn’t have his best stuff that day. And these imbeciles failed to acknowledge that Theo wound up spinning this deal in their favor by acquiring a very hot 1B prospect from Arizona; Chris Carter is the best player from the trio of WMP, Arroyo and Carter. Nice job fellas, indeed.

    As far as the factiod about the Sox using that sandwich pick to get Buchholz after Pedro left, the only time that sportscasters pick up on this stuff is if they hear someone else repeating it over and over again (cue one of the ESPN announcers repeating the same tired story of how the Sox got Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb. *yawn*).

    Sure, Theo’s made his share of bad trades (I’m looking right at you, Nancy Drew) but he never gets the credit for building an amazing farm system and only trading away the pieces that weren’t going to fit anyway (i.e. trading Murphy and Gabbard but keeping Buchholz and Ellsbury). Those are winning GM moves and I’d like to hear all of the Globe, Herald, ProJo, Telegram and BDD writers acknowledge that much.

    *crickets*

    Reply

  4. rln2433

    6 years ago

    BDD praises you one day then stabs you in the ass the next. Their headlines are cute but they offer nothing more than a cheap laugh. Everyone remember how Eric Wilbutthead of the Glob buried Pedroia at the begining of the year and the season hadn’t really gotten underway? Or all the times CHB served as house boy for factions of the front office? Or how Edes and the rest of the buttkissers provide zero in the way of meaningful analysis on the team?

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  5. HFXBOB

    6 years ago

    Congratulations on your marriage, Seth. I hope your wife is a Sox fan! On the Pedro thing, you have been very consistent on this and certainly proven correct.

    rln2433, I understand the shots you took at the Globe folks except for Edes. I find him to be a pretty good reporter and a fair one.

    Reply

  6. rln2433

    6 years ago

    Gordon Edes simply doesn’t go all that deep with his analysis and he comes off like an analyst afraid of angering the companies who pay his bills. That doesn’t mean he needs to act like an ass but he could do a lot better.

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  7. chris

    6 years ago

    Have to add… Clement’s beaning is about as predictable as his own arm woes, which is probably the true explanation for his travails. Unlike Pedro, nobody expected his shoulder to come apart.

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  8. tinisoli

    6 years ago

    One of the few times Edes’ reporting veered towards editorializing was when he questioned Manny’s patellar tendinitis last summer and ended up getting phone calls at home from a passionate Manny defender. I’m not surprised he isn’t auditioning for CHB’s job or a spot on Around The Horn, but it’s also not Edes’ job to “analyze” the team in that way. He’s a reporter, and a good one.

    Reply

  9. rln2433

    6 years ago

    Edes does a regular mail bag column, he hosts web chats and he appears on NESN to give commentary on the Sox. He even does features. Plenty of room for analysis in those. That some asswipe called his house is unfortunate but he should be giving up more than he does.

    Reply
  10. [...] I’ve had a long, and somewhat complicated history with Pedro. Some of my most joyous baseball memories are the result of his brilliance. (I’ve already gone on too many times about his 17-K performance at Yankee Stadium in September 99…the game that got me escorted out of the ballpark for my own safety.) His 2006 return to Fenway was chill (and tear) inducing. On the other hand, his continued obfuscation during same return was childish, and I’m very happy the Sox aren’t on the hook for his salary. (Among other reasons is this Sunday’s starter.) [...]

    Reply
  11. [...] * If the Sox had been able to keep Manny on the field, they’d have gotten a draft-pick when Manny signed with another team in the offseason, and the Sox have a good track record of taking advantage of those compensation picks. (See: Buccholz, Clay and Martinez, Pedro.) [...]

    Reply

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