-- Alvin F., Detroit
How can it be right, you ask? Well it is. The won-loss record in his games may or may not reflect the quality of his performance. But there is that sense in baseball that "you are what your record says you are." The Mets won 17 of Martinez's 31 starts in 2005. And their record in his 23 starts last season was 11-12. So in two seasons, he made 54 starts. The Mets' winning percentage in those games is .519. They won 152 of the 270 games he didn't start. That yields a .563 winning percentage.
Their performance in his games can be discussed, questioned, rationalized and, if you want, dismissed. But those are the numbers. And they can't be denied.
People like to look for reasons -- defense, support, et al. And some can be found. But since Steve Carlton won 27 games for the 1972 Phillies, who won only 59 games, a lot of reasons look like excuses. It's possible to win 20 games for a poor team. See Tom Seaver with the Mets from 1973-76 or Mel Stottlemyre with the Yankees teams that followed the 1949-1964 dynasty. It's possible to lose games for a good team. That's why baseball is the least predictable game.
Does Martinez have value to the Mets? Of course. Was he a great pitcher? Absolutely, though not last season, when injuries undermined him and only on occasion was he special in 2005. He could have pitched more effectively each season.
It seems to me that the Mets are pretty much planning an in-season makeover of their pitching staff with Martinez, Duaner Sanchez, Guillermo Mota and maybe Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber. Now, I read general manager Omar Minaya saying pitchers like the rookies Joe Smith and Kevin Mulvey could help after the All-Star break. What's going to happen to Tom Glavine, Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez and John Maine? What do you think?
-- Grant S., Buffalo, N.Y.
Minaya isn't vowing to make over the team. But if Sanchez isn't ready to begin the season, what would you have Minaya do with him when he is ready? Freeze him? Same with Martinez. Mota isn't necessarily going to be added to the roster when his suspension ends after 50 games. And Pelfrey and/or Humber could go north for April. Minaya is talking possibilities only. And with Smith and Mulvey, the possibilities aren't too great, though everyone -- Minaya, manager Willie Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson -- likes Smith.
We're not even to the first exhibition game, and the Mets' rotation is breaking down. The Mets are going to regret not going after Barry Zito harder. Why did they bring in Sandy Alomar Jr.?
-- Michael T., Staten Island, N.Y.
Why don't we wait to see who makes the Opening Day roster and see how the arthritis affects El Duque?
I heard you say in a radio interview you would include Jerry Koosman on any Mets' all-time team. Maybe if you have a 10-man staff, but with a five-man rotation, there's no way he beats out any of these: Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Martinez, Glavine, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen and Frank Viola. They all won Cy Young Awards. Koosman won 20 games just once.
-- Steven E., Huntington, N.Y.
Of the pitchers you listed, only Seaver (three) and Gooden (one) won their Cy Young Awards as Mets. For that matter, only Seaver, Gooden and Cone had better seasons as Mets than Koosman who, incidentally, won 21 games with the Mets in 1976 and 20 with the Twins three years later. He also won 19 for the ninth-place Mets in 1968.
My selections were based exclusively on the performances of pitchers when they were Mets. If I chose my team the way you apparently think I should -- considering a player's entire career -- Warren Spahn would have been the No. 1 pitcher, and the outfield might be Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Rickey Henderson.
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And you omitted Nolan Ryan.
Because his father is a sportswriter, does David Newhan cut writers any extra slack?
-- Robert D., Los Anegles
Interesting observation/question. I don't know him that well yet. But he is pleasant, well-spoken and accessible. I imagine he is that way with most people, so I don't see his demeanor as "cutting slack" for writers. He just might be a nice guy.
For those unaware, Newhan's father is Ross Newhan, formerly of the Los Angeles Times and winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which is Hall of Fame recognition for a baseball writer.
With Ichiro Suzuki in his walk year, is it possible we could see an outfield of Ichiro, Carlos Beltran and Lastings Milledge in '08? Would he bat second in this lineup? Could he be had before the trading deadline this year to give the Mets more leverage to sign him to a long-term contract?
-- Sean F., Wellington, Fla.
Well, this one is from out of left field -- or right field, you might say. Anything is possible. But the Mets believe they have the components of the future outfield in the Minor Leagues right now -- Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez; not for 2008 perhaps, but for 2009. I doubt the club would commit to a multi-year contract -- and it would take that to lure Ichiro -- with all the young outfield talent it has and when adding a starting pitcher and, perhaps, a catcher might be a greater priority next year.
But it would be something to see him play hit and run with Jose Reyes on base.
Am I the only person who thinks the Mets made a mistake by not resigning Steve Trachsel? El Duque is already hurting in 2007. It amazes me how much people love Oliver Perez and his 6.00-plus ERA. He would have been a goat in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series if not for one of the greatest catches in the history of baseball by Endy Chavez. And people want Perez in the rotation. Yet people point out Tracshel's 4.97 ERA as being bad. I see him as a guy who will start 30 games and be a consistent starter.
-- Billy M., Tallahassee, Fla.
I can't shoot many holes in what you say. But Perez clearly has a higher ceiling than Trachsel, and the last month of Trachsel's time with the Mets -- his absence from late regular-season games and his performance in the postseason pretty much ushered him out of New York. The Mets won 20 of his 30 starts. If Perez makes 30 starts -- i.e., if he pitches well enough to be part of the rotation for the entire season -- the Mets will be delighted.
OK, those Rusty Staub memories were great. One more, about my all-time favorite Met: There's Staub, after getting his eighth consecutive pinch-hit, as he stood at first base taking off his batting gloves, receiving a full hats-off homage from the pitcher, Rick Reuschel. Do you think such a gentlemanly scene could happen again?
-- Sandy N., Cornwall, Conn.
That sort of thing never has happened all that much. Some people were offended when the Cubs congratulated Mark McGwire on his 60th home run in 1998. They thought the sense of competition had been compromised. But most folks seemed happy with the Red Sox's response to Roger Clemens' supposedly final appearance at Fenway, as a Yankee. So go figure.
The one I wanted to see -- but it never happened -- involved Cal Ripken and Bill Pulsipher, the former Mets pitcher. Pulsipher planned to tip his cap to Ripken, from the mound, in an exhibition game. The perfect setting. I doubt anyone would have been offended.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.