One of my favorite baseball bloggers, Jonah Keri, is in the process of writing (what I assume to be) another fantastic book which is scheduled for release in 2014. He’ll be focusing in on the history of the Montreal Expos — a team I often find myself rather awestruck by, given the plethora of talent they developed and traded away. Via Twitter, Keri released one particularly interesting tidbit discovered in his research for the book.
“How’s this grab you, Yankees fans? Before Expos dealt Pedro to Sox, Yanks made offer: Pedro for…Mariano Rivera. #ExposBook” (@jonahkeri)
Imagine if Expos GM, Jim Beattie, acquired Mariano instead of the agreed upon Red Sox package consisting of Carl Pavano and a player to be named later (Tony Armas). As blasphemous as it is to even contemplate Rivera wearing another uniform, would the move have made sense for the Yankees? Let’s consider.
The first point to remember is that this trade would have happened prior to the 1998 season. Try to keep the context of the times in mind. Pedro had just completed a superb 1997 season in which he posted an 8.8 fWAR for the Expos. During that 1997 campaign, he pitched to a 1.90 ERA (2.39 FIP) over the course of 241.1 (that’s “CC workhorse” territory!) innings. Unsurprisingly, during that 1997 season, Martinez also posted very gaudy K/9 (11.37), HR/9 (0.79), BB/9 (2.50) rates as well. Heading into the 1998 season, Pedro would have been a 26 year old stud pitcher (think of a hot-headed version of Tim Lincecum), fresh off of his first CY award, making approximately $3.6M entering the prime of his career.
Meanwhile, in 1997, the Yankees starting rotation was currently comprised of Andy Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone, Kenny Rogers, and Dwight Gooden. This cast managed to carry the Bombers into the Divisional Series of the playoffs where they ultimately wound up losing to a talented Cleveland ballclub. In other words, this trade would have occured before those monster years of the Yankees dynasty. Though the Yankee rotation at the time was certainly effective, it still left plenty of room for improvement, particularly towards the back end*.
*Thanks to hindsight, we also know that during the 1998-2000 dynasty years, the Yanks obtained pitchers such as Hideki Irabu, Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemens, and Denny Neagle to further strengthen the rotation. From 2001-2004, New York looked to Mike Mussina (who absolutely was a quality acquisition), Ted Lilly, Jeff Weaver, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Jon Lieber, and Jose Contreras. That’s not to say that Pedro would have prevented some of these names from surfacing in pinstripes, but the Yanks may not have faced the same sense of desperation to find another reliable big name pitcher.
As for Mariano, he was 27 years old at that time and making a very affordable $550K as he entered his third season in the Bigs. After putting up numbers worthy of Cy Young consideration in 1996 (5.4 bWAR), Rivera was looking more and more like one of the key components of the Yankee organization heading forward. During the 1997 campaign, in 71.2 IP, Mo notched a 1.88 ERA (2.96 FIP) and was averaging 8.5 SO/9 (good for a 4.2 bWAR which is really pretty incredibly given the innings). He was also one of the key members of a solidified bullpen comprised of Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton, and Graeme Lloyd.
Of course, we know how events unfolded for the Yankees and the Red Sox during the late ’90s. The Yankees won the World Series each year from 1998-2000, and came very close to doing it again in 2001. Meanwhile the Sox struggled to find that elusive ring much to their fans chagrin; although from 1998-2000, Pedro utterly dominated the American league (he came in second in CY voting in 1998 and won the award both years in 1999 and 2000). In 1999 and 2000 specifically, he posted what very well could have been the most impressive consecutive seasons by a starting pitcher ever.
While we as fans like to associate Pedro with a malicious “Who’s your Daddy?” chant, the truth of the matter is, during the late ’90s (and even early ’00s), Pedro was a truly imposing force. For what it’s worth, during his seven seasons with the Red Sox overall, Pedro went 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA over 1383.2 innings pitched. He averaged 10.9 SO/9, 0.7 HR/9, and 2.0 BB/9. From 1998-2004, Pedro was worth a 47.6 bWAR, or approximately 6.8 bWAR on average each season in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Despite being a prodigious closer these past 17 years, Mariano’s cumulative career bWAR is 56.3 (from 1998-2004, it would have been a 23.4 or roughly half of Pedro’s)**.
**Obviously, the disparity in WAR is inherent to each of the pitchers’ respective roles.
|1990||18||LAD-min||Rk||8||3||3.62||77.0||8.6||0.6||4.7||9.6||2.05||GRF · PION|
|1991||19||LAD-min||AA,A+,AAA||18||8||2.28||177.1||6.4||0.4||3.3||9.7||2.91||SAN,BAK,ABQ · TL,CALL,PCL|
|1992||20||LAD-min||AAA||7||6||3.81||125.1||7.5||0.7||4.1||8.9||2.18||ABQ · PCL|
|1993||21||LAD-min||AAA||0||0||3.00||3.0||3.0||0.0||3.0||12.0||4.00||ABQ · PCL|
|2007||35||NYM-min||A+,Rk||1||1||4.00||18.0||8.0||1.5||2.0||8.5||4.25||SCE,MET · FLOR,GULF|
|2008||36||NYM-min||A+||0||1||3.00||6.0||6.0||0.0||0.0||9.0||SCE · FLOR|
|2009||37||PHI-min||AA,AAA,A+||1||1||5.11||12.1||6.6||1.5||2.2||11.7||5.33||REA,LHV,CLW · EL,IL,FLOR|
|BOS (7 yrs)||117||37||2.52||1383.2||6.8||0.7||2.0||10.9||5.45|
|BOS (7 yrs)||1383.2||47.6||$90,175,000|
Frankly, not much needs to be said about Mariano at this juncture. He’s the greatest closer of all time and was an absolutely integral member of all those championships. Without him, who knows if the team wins any titles (regardless of whether or not the rotation includes Pedro). On the other hand, perhaps New York would have been even more successful from 2001-2004 (assuming they resigned Pedro as Boston did, which I assume they probably would have) since the they may not have had to rely on as many aging, declining veteran pitchers in the postseason.
The same speculation can be directed at Boston’s fate too. Perhaps without Pedro’s services, the Sox don’t reach the playoffs in 2003 or 2004. Maybe they hit the century mark without a ring. Or, maybe, Boston fans are the ones mercilessly chanting “Who’s your daddy” to a pinstriped-clad Pedro in 2003 after they revamp their organization in a totally different fashion, bringing some other incredible pitcher’s services to Boston in the process. Unfortunately for us, it’s basically impossible to know how the paths of all the players involved with both teams may have been effected.
Although we have no way to know how history would have been rewritten had the trade gone through, it’s still fun to think about. Looking back, I’m really happy the Yankees offer was refuted and they wound up with Mariano. Over the years, he has become one of my all-time favorite players. That said, at the time of the trade proposal, I think I would have been utterly ecstatic for Pedro’s services. Moreover, I certainly can’t blame the Yankees at the time for preferring excellent starting pitching over potentially excellent bullpen pitching. I’m not sure there’s a team in baseball who wouldn’t have had taken their chances with Pedro at that time. Frankly, he was that good.
I’d like to believe that if the trade had gone through, we’d probably be looking back on Pedro’s career fondly and with gratitude. Also, if we had access to the old crystal ball back in 1997, Martinez might look a hell of a lot more appealing compared with some of the ineffective pitchers destined to idle around in the coming years prior to 2009. Of course, those championship rings are pretty sweet, and I’m sure none of us would trade them in for anything.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- walkfit platinum reviews on The TYA staff on the Yankees’ television and radio broadcast teams
- essentialtexting.com on Open Thread | Game 3 | Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees | Sunday, April 3, 2011
- www25.tok2.com on Sabermetrics Doesn’t Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP
- グッチ 財布 on Sunday Links-Joba’s Timetable, Comparing eras, Pineda
- raspberry ketone diet 1200 on Sabermetrics Doesn’t Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP
- Free riot codes on Off-Topic
- Fran on The Great Subway Race
- sleeping bag hand Orientation on What about Austin Romine?
- camping stove heat diffuser on What about Austin Romine?
- 手機殼 on The Yankees’ Standing In The AL East Right Now
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees