Within a twenty-four hour period, two of the more polarizing figures in professional baseball during the 1990s and 2000s were making headlines. Manny Ramirez applied for reinstatement to MLB after a “forced” retirement and Pedro Martinez informally pledged he would formally announce his retirement two years after he threw his last pitch in the big leagues. Maybe they both should just stay in the background once and for all.
Manny Ramirez was once considered one of the more feared right-handed hitters during his time with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. He had a tendency to play with a sort of aloof attitude which garnered him the moniker of “Manny being Manny”. Ramirez was possibly on his way to the Hall of Fame, before he was twice caught by MLB’s drug tests for performance enhancing drugs. Ramirez quickly retired after the second offense which would have resulted in an immediate 100 game suspension. In order for Ramirez to be reinstated, he would have to serve the suspension.
Ramirez’s standard seasonal stats from ’95 through ’08 plus career totals.
Some of Manny’s accomplishments during his career are extremely impressive on their face. He hit 30 or more home runs in eight straight seasons (1998 – 2006) and from 1995 to 2008 he hit 30 or more home runs 12 out 14 seasons. Five times he hit over 40 home runs. His career slash line was .312/.411/.585. There are very few players who have ever compiled such numbers. His finest season was in 1999 when he compiled a 7.5 WAR. Over the course of his career he accumulated a 69.6 WAR which is 95th all-time among hitters.
Unfortunately for Ramirez, his failed drug test in 2009 immediately tarnished his career and put every home run he ever hit under speculation. Most hitters of the ’90s who displayed power were already under scrutiny due to the steroids scandal which enveloped many of the top hitters of the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Manny was never seriously discussed among those players as a potential user as he wasn’t exactly an extremely fit player and his body shape was more or less the same throughout his playing career. But, any chance he had before 2009 to get the benefit of the doubt went out the window with the failed drug tests. No one can look at his numbers as pure.
It is laughable that Manny thinks there is a single team in MLB who would take on his baggage. He wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard when he quit. Maybe he hooks up with a team in Japan but it would be shocking to see any MLB team take a flyer on him now. If all else fails, there is probably an independent team who will take him on so they can have a Manny Being Manny Day.
Pedro Martinez was among the best pitchers of the late 1990s and the early part of the 2000s. He won three Cy Young Awards from 1997 – 2000, one with the Montreal Expos and two with the Red Sox. Martinez’s often arrogant personality sometimes spoke more than his pitching but it was portrayed as ‘Pedro’s competitiveness talking’. He had some interesting comments that followed him around, like “The Yankees are my daddy” and that he would ‘wake Babe Ruth from the dead and plunk him in the rear’. He may have been better served to tell people to just look at this baseball card.
Martinez was undeniably the best pitcher in the major leagues during the span shown above. Besides maybe Randy Johnson, there was no one who approached his stature as a starting pitcher. For his career he averaged over ten strikeouts per nine innings. There are not many starters who can do this in a single season. His career SO/BB ratio was 4.15. He accumulated a 89.4 WAR over the course of his career. During his Cy Young winning seasons he registered 8.8, 12.1 and 10.1 WAR values. For some perspective, Justin Verlander just had one of the more spectacular seasons in recent memory and his WAR was 7.0.
In his time after the Red Sox, with the Mets and Phillies, he had some memorable moments, but the shine understandably began to wear off as he got older. But, to Pedro, he was still the best out there. This attitude came across as extreme arrogance at times and honestly was completely warranted during his best seasons. It grew tiring as the years went on when his performance didn’t measure up with this mouth. But, it was a part of who is was and is. To this day he still feels that he could perform, or better yet outperform others, on the big stage. While Pedro may be in good shape does he truly feel after two years away day to day rigors of professional baseball that he could succeed? He does, but no else does. He is a lock to get into the Hall of Fame and I look forward to his acceptance speech. Hopefully, we won’t have to hear more from him after the retirement becomes official in his mind.
In one twenty-four hour period we heard from a fearsome power hitter and a dominant pitcher who helped break the Red Sox curse. Each feels that despite their age and recent departure from the game they still have what it takes to succeed in professional baseball. Once upon a time they were at the top of the game and they made sure to tell us all about it. Now, it is time for them to settle into retirement and let us tell their stories.
Please read Call to the Pen’s Lew Freedman’s take on Manny Ramirez’s try at a comeback. Also, check out what Call to the Pen’s Justin Hunter has to say about Pedro’s Hall of Fame Chances. You can follow Call to the Pen on Twitter at @FSCalltothePen or follow here on Facebook. Christopher Carelli can be followed on Twitter at @BaseballStance.