A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Pedro Effect

Andrew from Chuck 'N Duck and a reader had pointed out this fantastic article by Chris Smith from NewYorkMetro.com. Probably the best Met read I've seen in quite a while and it details a lot of happenings in depth. It's long, so grab a doughnut and some coffee (unless you check it later in the day, then grab a beer).

One thing that stuck out the most for me is something that I had written about before and got irritated about before. Minaya had made the following statement:

    "That kid that we don't know about, that Pedro Martinez that you don't know about, I don't know about, okay, that might be in the marketplace down in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. That kid's father, or that kid, you know what he wants to be today? He wants to be a Met."
Baseball Prospectus did not like that statement and dedicated some virtual ink to it.

    There are two big questions we need to ask ourselves when we hear something like this:

    • Is it true?
    • If it's true, does it matter?

    Is it true? Pedro Martinez is far from the only Latin player in the game, even if he is one of the most prominent. On account of Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez, there are a lot of Latino boys that want to be Angels or Red Sox. And as for "that kid's father," it's a good bet that there are a lot of fathers who, on account of Roberto Clemente, raised their kids to be Pirates.

    If it's true, does it matter? A Mets uniform is nice; a new house is better, and it's likely that Latino boys, like everybody else, will go where the money is best. Unless Pedro Martinez is intending to shunt some of his paycheck down south, he won't affect that calculus a whole lot.

    So if it isn't true, why would the Mets say it? One reason could be that they don't believe it, and are trying to make a self-fulfilling prophecy: if they say that Dominican boys all want to be Mets, then by golly, Dominican boys will want to be Mets! The signing was made for baseball reasons, and the hype is merely another opportunity to be seized.

That piece prompted a loyal reader of the The Metropolitans, who is Hispanic, to email BP.

    You know your comparisons of Pedro Martinez to Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez make no sense considering there is a difference between the icon pitcher and the icon batter. Sammy Sosa is already the Dominican icon for hitting, Pedro Martinez is the one for pitching. And what set Sammy and Pedro apart from the others is what they mean to the country.

    Those two men spend a lot of their money to make the country better. Both of those men build malls, buy computers for the schools, and just continue to donate to the country in ways people will never understand unless they are themselves Dominican. So the comparison you made clearly shows you don't know what your talking about since yes a signing like that CAN have the affect Omar Minaya stated. I'm still young, I'm only 16 right now and I am Dominican so when I was growing up all I wanted to be was the shortstop for the New York Mets and be JUST like fellow Dominican Jose Vizcaino, even though he was only there for only a few years. He's not even a good player, I don't want to imagine the affect Pedro Martinez's aura would have on a young Dominican pitcher that is getting offers from teams like the Indians, Marlins, Yankees, or Mets. He WILL choose the Mets.

That was a small excerpt from the email that illicited this response from BP:

    Not being Dominican, I might well have underestimated the status of Pedro Martinez there, and there are probably a lot of Mets caps being sold right now in the DR.

    The realities of baseball recruiting there, though, are different, and while plenty of non-prospects who are taking small contracts will decide based on their favorite team, the very good players are represented by agents and draw a lot of attention, and they still decide based on money. There's nothing wrong with this--I would too!--but Pedro's signing doesn't change that equation.

Maybe it does change that equation. Maybe it means more than more Met caps being sold in the DR. Maybe some of these players will come the Mets first to try out. Maybe the connections that Minaya has and that Pedro may have will help get the best players in their camp first for first dibs. Let's not forget the impact Omar has as well. By signing such and iconic player like Pedro, he sends a message to a lot of kids in the Dominican. Omar was the first Hispanic GM and being Dominican, he is an icon as well, perhaps bigger in some ways to a lot of other Hispanic or Dominican players. Minaya being able to scout players with his own eyes and meet them personally cannot be understated.

    The Mets’ new general manager, Omar Minaya; the team’s new manager, Willie Randolph; and one of its owners, Jeff Wilpon, are paying a rare visit. Hardly anyone speaks. Until:

    “¡El está aquí!”
    “¡Está aquí!”
    “¡Pedro está aquí!”

    Behind home plate, a guard toting a shotgun opens a gate in the pink wall. Outside, a dozen barefoot boys, some straddling beaten-up bicycles, others in ragged T-shirts, are standing in the entryway. The boys slowly step back, making way.

    First comes a banana-yellow Ferrari. Then a black Mercedes sedan. Then a black Ford SUV. Another SUV. And at the rear, a Hummer H2, spotless and taxicab yellow.

    Pedro Martinez climbs from the Hummer’s backseat and ambles toward the field. Minaya wraps Martinez in a hug. “Oh-mar Min-AYE-ya!” Martinez shouts. “The man in New York!”

    On the field, a 16-year-old starts crushing line drives. Minaya quickly and quietly tells an assistant to pull the boy, a shortstop, out of the cage. “That kid was unsigned,” Minaya says later. “He came today because of Pedro. I had to get him out of batting practice before everyone saw how good he was and word spread to some other team before we could get him under contract.”

Is it just sensationalism? Did it really happen? Did this stud 16-year old come to try out and sign with the Mets solely because Pedro was there? Did he even sign with the Mets? A kid signing with the Mets because Pedro is a Met does not sound so impossible to me. Of course we will have no idea if his one of the very good players that BP referred to, but it does not seem like such stretch.

    The Mets will still draft dozens of players, but they’ll increasingly deploy Minaya as a recruiter, almost in the mold of a college coach, particularly in Latin America. There, the amateur players aren’t subject to the major-league draft, so teams with big money and connections have a sizable advantage. This winter is a vivid example of how the approach can pay off at the bottom and top of the ladder: Minaya’s signing of Martinez attracted that 16-year-old Dominican shortstop who showed up at the Mets Academy because Pedro now wore blue and orange. And it also gave the Mets credibility with Carlos Beltran.

Does credibility mean anything in the Dominican or any other Latin country when it comes to who a player wants to play for? Will players just chase the paycheck? Of course they will follow whoever gives the cash and the opportunity, but they just may give the Mets the first shot a lot of the time just like Dioneer Navarro did with the Yankees and that is the point. He passed up more money with the Braves to play for the Yankee organization. The Mets have the money, they have the Hispanic GM, and they have two big time Hispanic icons. If they can start translating the excitement into winnings, it certainly seems like something to shoot for if you are young Hispanic kid trying for the big leagues even for the very good players and not just the non-prospects. The Mets can offer them money and the chance to be in the same organization as Pedro and in the same one that one of their countryman run.

* * *

  • Dumb Sloane remark for the week:

    “I’m not stupid enough to believe they were serious,” Sloane says, still angry. “I knew what they were trying to do, which is why I told Carlos that when you’re confronted by a bully, you hit him in the mouth.”

    Yeah, a bully who wants to give your client 50+ million over four years. Sloane is a one big motivator for the Mets. I seriously hope that the Mets get pissed and use this to fuel their fire to win and prove something this season while smacking up the Marlins.

  • Another good read from NewYorkMetro.com has some "experts" weighing in on the Yankees. I quoted experts because Tim McCarver is one of them and he may well very be the most grating commentator alive. Chinese water torture is one thing, but having to listen to him while watching baseball is far worse, but I digress.

    Is the high number of Yankees 35 or older a problem?
    MCCARVER: You could ask that question of any team. Tony Womack’s 35—so what? A lot of guys at 35 are doing very well.

    McCarver's fuzzy logic does not sit well with me. The fact is, it could be a problem. Sheffield has had serious shoulder problems that required surgery, RJ has a balky knee, Giambi was basically invisible last season even when he played, Posada is a catcher who got a year older after an unspectacular year in 2004, Rivera's arm could be a problem, Gordon seemingly wore down at the end of the year, Bernie is not the Bernie of 'ole and looks horrible in center, and Mussina is no longer an ace and maybe not a front end guy at all. It may not be a problem, but it certainly can be a big problem and looks like it will play a factor. To glaze over that is silly. Now to real experts answers...

    SCOUT: Put it this way: They’re built to win now. They didn’t go out and get any young, promising players. Pavano’s the youngest guy they picked up. And he’s 29.

    NEYER: The trap that teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees fall into is the notion that they have to be good every year. If that’s the goal you’ve set for yourself, it’s very difficult to get young. You’re going to end up with guys who make a lot of money—so much that you can’t trade them—when their skills are declining.

    Now aren't the real experts answers better?

    Good read altogether, some interesting stuff in there.

  • Not only does he look like Manny, hail from the same town as Manny, seemingly rake like Manny with the same questionable defense, but he also has the confidence of Manny.

    "I don't feel like I need to be in Norfolk, but if I have to go there, I'll go," Diaz said. "I just want to make the big leagues. That's every kid's dream. If I'm up here, they can use me.

    "It would be nice to stick somewhere, because I'm going to work my butt off in the outfield. I practiced a lot in right and left, and I've shagged a lot of balls. I have whole bunch of confidence. I'm just going to play hard and try to earn a roster spot."

    What's not to like about Victor?

  • Eric from SaberMets has some new digs. It's all perty and stuff.

  • Michael Jordan to the Mets? Not likely, but they did sign his buddy Jerry Krause along with another professional scout. Not sure what makes them professional scouts as opposed to the other regular scouts or even the super scouts, but it sounds good to me. There has been a big emphasis on increasing the scouts and talent evaluators with the club over the past two seasons. All very good stuff.

  • Mets.com has the details of the intersquad game in which the reserves beat the starters 3-1.

  • Wright took a Joe Nelson changeup in the back during the game and let out a yelp, drawing some razzing from the bench.

    "I told myself I was never going to make that girlie sound when I got hit and I did," Wright said with a laugh.

    I'm sure that is not the last time he is going to hear about that.

    Rookie Yusmeiro Petit, though he barely touches 90 mph on the radar gun, retired the side in order in the one inning he pitched. The youngster fanned Andres Galarraga, broke Ron Calloway's bat on a comebacker and got Phillips to fly to left. Said Galarraga of Petit: "He's sneaky."

    "Very deceptive," Randolph said. "I watched him throw on the side the last week or so. Yeah, he's a baby, but I think he's going to be a pretty good pitcher. He's got something to him that's a little bit different. From what I understand, you don't really get good hacks at him, so he's got to have some deception in his delivery."

    Nice. They better give his kid some substantial innings this spring.

  • Yet another Yankee article about who they are picking up next year. Last year it focused on Beltran, this year it's Damon. How about everyone takes it one step at a time and worry about your first spring training game.

  • Alay Soler is not the only Cuban ballplayer with some passport issues:

    Passport problems: As the Angels await the arrival of Cuban defector Kendry Morales, their biggest concern is that they do not know exactly when his lawyers in the Dominican Republic initiated the process of acquiring a passport. Such a process can take as long as three months, so if it did not begin until after he agreed to terms with the Angels on Dec. 1, Morales' arrival could be delayed further.

  • No Mets or ex-Mets in 51-75 according to BA, but in 1-50 there should be a few current and ex-Met prospects littered all over it.

  • Jake Peavy agreed to a four year $15 million deal with the Padres.

  • Theo looks smarter than he did before taking a chance on Wade Miller for peanuts. Wade may be ready for opening day though the Red Sox might take it slow with him. Either way, he could be ready, just not pitching and ready to go a month into the season. A rotation of Clement, Schilling, Miller, Wells, and Arroyo is solid 1 through 5 with three guys that can throw really, really hard.

  • BP has it's new This Week in Quotes up.

    Why do you keep asking the same question? I'm not a child. You repeat things to children and then eventually they tell you; I don't."
    --Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, during a press conference last week, after being asked if he took steroids (San Jose Mercury News)

    Classic Barry.

    "I do want to cut down. I don't want to go down 50 strikeouts but have the other numbers go down, too. A lot of guys with a lot of walks have a lot of strikeouts because you've got to get deep in counts, 3-1, 3-2, as opposed to being like Nomar."
    --Red Sox second baseman Mark Bellhorn, on his approach at the plate (Boston Globe)


    "I was offensively the best player on the club. Anybody in his right mind wouldn't trade me. From the business side, sometimes it doesn't matter what you do. I didn't realize that when I got traded from Boston."
    --Blue Jays infielder Shea Hillenbrand, on his trade from Arizona to Toronto this winter (Toronto Star)

    Slow down there champ. You are not that good. In fact, you are OK. Not bad, not good, just OK.

    "When you've got No. 59 on the back of your jersey, there's no guarantee."
    --Ben Grieve, on the chances he'll make the Pirates out of spring training (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    Ouch. My how he's fallen since his Oakland days.

    "I mean, O.J. was found [not guilty] but in the minds of a lot of people he was still guilty. Why do we have this system in place here if you're going to be exonerated for something and still be guilty?"
    --Cubs Manager Dusty Baker, on Barry Bonds (Chicago Tribune)

    Dusty, Dusty, Dusty...bad example. Using the Juice in this case is all bad.

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