Commentary

Out of the Box: Pedro party ends early

Updated: April 2, 2008, 4:14 PM ET
By Eric Karabell | ESPN.com

[+] EnlargePedro Martinez
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesPedro Martinez wasn't very effective Tuesday even before his injury.
OK, were you really expecting Pedro Martinez to make it through the entire season 100 percent healthy? Personally, I had 20 starts as his over/under and was taking the under. Then again, did I expect the "rejuvenated" right-hander to limp off the field with a hamstring problem in his very first start, with a stint on the disabled list nearly assured? No, not really.

The news on Martinez, who was owned in 100 percent of ESPN standard leagues after being (over)drafted in the 15th round on average, is not good, and the Mets and fantasy owners are none too pleased. It's worse for the Mets. They're already using Mike Pelfrey as their fifth starter, hoping 63-year-old Orlando Hernandez can pitch in the next two weeks, and it's not like there's much left on the farm to help out. It's all in Minnesota, courtesy of the Johan Santana trade. Jorge Sosa will likely fill in for Martinez's next start, but since Sosa will face the high-scoring Phillies, fantasy owners should avoid him. Buster Olney reported on "SportsCenter" that former Brewers underachiever Claudio Vargas, who was released a week ago, could become a Met soon. Fantasy owners wait with bated breath.

Before outright dropping Martinez, fantasy owners should wait to see what the results of the MRI show, and I'm sure our injury maven Stephania Bell will chime in with repercussions as well. It's possible Martinez will not miss much time, and if you were one of the believers that he was going to recapture his Cy Young glory, you shouldn't give up so fast. Personally, I thought his five starts from 2007 were a bit misleading, and there was little chance he'd be durable this season.

Martinez wasn't throwing well on Tuesday in the first place, even before the fateful fourth-inning pitch to Matt Treanor caused the "pop" (as Martinez called it) in his left hamstring. Pedro grabbed his leg and limped off the field. After the game, manager Willie Randolph confirmed the injury could be significant. As for the game results, Martinez threw more fastballs than normal and reportedly couldn't reach 90 mph with any of them. Dan Uggla and Luis Gonzalez homered, and Martinez left the game with a 10.80 ERA. As of this moment, nobody knows when he'll get a chance to lower that ERA.

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Just when you think Joe Torre has it all figured out, he goes and starts Juan Pierre over future fantasy hero Matt Kemp in Game 2 of the season. Pierre batted seventh and went 0-for-2, while Kemp pinch hit for him in the sixth inning and struck out with the bases loaded against lefty reliever Jack Taschner. One would think/hope Kemp will play regularly. Maybe Torre sat him because tough right-hander Matt Cain started. News flash: there are a lot of tough right-handers. Meanwhile, Andre Ethier batted third, had two singles and a double and was seen taking ground balls at first base prior to the game. Adding eligibility sure wouldn't hurt. ... Josh Hamilton is Superman! In 2007, the Mariners didn't lose a single game they were leading after eight innings, but Hamilton's majestic two-run home run off top fantasy closer J.J. Putz ended that streak. Hamilton fanned twice, but if he can hit about 30 more home runs, fantasy owners won't mind. ... With J.D. Drew again on the shelf and predictably showing up on ESPN's most-dropped list, Boston manager Terry Francona adjusted his lineup, using Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off, with Dustin Pedroia hitting second and Kevin Youkilis dropping to the No. 6 spot to protect Mike Lowell. Coco Crisp played center field and batted eighth. No matter what happens with Drew, Youkilis owners would like clarity on where their guy will hit. If he bats second, expect more runs scored and probably a higher batting average seeing fastballs in front of David Ortiz. Batting sixth, Youkilis would get more RBI opportunities. As for Ellsbury, Francona told reporters he didn't want to give Ellsbury too much to handle as the regular leadoff hitter, but we say if he hits, he'll stay there. ... In the same game, Daisuke Matsuzaka had little trouble with the popgun Oakland lineup, striking out nine in 6 2/3 innings. The top three hitters in the A's lineup for the season -- Travis Buck, Mark Ellis, and Daric Barton -- have one hit and 14 strikeouts in 34 at-bats. Ouch. ... Padres left fielder Paul McAnulty has started the first two games, in which he has three hits and a pair of walks. Scott Hairston has played center field with Jim Edmonds out. It will be interesting to see if the return of Edmonds forces Hairston into a platoon with the lefty-hitting McAnulty, a professional hitter who has been knocking on the MLB door for years. Those in NL-only leagues should take notice. ... Every spot in the Yankees lineup is a valuable one, but Hideki Matsui owners would like to see their potential 100-RBI guy hitting higher than eighth in the order. It's just one game, but one could argue Robinson Cano is a better option to hit sixth anyway. Matsui went 0-for-3 but knocked in the winning run against Roy Halladay in the seventh inning -- but only because a likely double-play ball was bobbled by normally sure-handed Aaron Hilland became a fielder's choice instead.

News and Notes

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Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe left Tuesday's start after getting hit on the back of the ankle with a Jose Castillo ground ball, but the durable right-hander said he would almost certainly make his next scheduled start. Lowe allowed two runs in six innings and might have had another inning in him since he left after throwing only 81 pitches. ... Speaking of the Dodgers, fading prospect Andy LaRoche had the case and pins removed from his injured thumb Tuesday, but he won't resume playing for at least a month, and maybe two. Fill-in Blake DeWitt is 2-for-5 so far with a run scored and a stolen base. ... The Royals' David DeJesus is expected to miss a game or two with a sprained ankle sustained on opening day, meaning Joey Gathright gets to play center field and show if his good spring can continue. DeJesus isn't in danger of losing playing time when he's healthy, but fantasy owners desperate for speed are aware he can't help them while Gathright can. ... Scot Shields and his sore forearm passed a simulated game test Tuesday, and the Angels reliever could return to the team as soon as next week.

Transaction Analysis

• A day after seeing fill-in closer Tom Gordon implode in the ninth inning of what became an 11-6 loss to the Washington Nationals, the Phillies took a no-risk shot on journeyman reliever Rudy Seanez. Don't expect Seanez to figure into the saves picture, even if Gordon and Brad Lidge are unavailable, but this could be a sign Gordon's poor, five-runs-allowed performance was hindered by an injury. Also, Seanez permitted 10 home runs in 76 innings for the Dodgers in 2007. Doesn't sound like a great fit with Philly's bandbox, does it?

• Fantasy owners have long since moved on from Rocco Baldelli, and now it appears the Rays are distancing themselves as well, declining the oft-injured outfielder's 2009 contract option. It makes sense, since Baldelli has not been able to stay on the field, having appeared in only 127 games in the past three seasons. It's a shame, really, since Baldelli brought so much promise early in his career. There's no timetable on his 2008 debut.

• The Rays did find a way to commit to spending money on Tuesday, however, wisely exercising the 2009 contract option on Carl Crawford and inking middle reliever Dan Wheeler to a three-year, $10.5 million extension. The Crawford move makes perfect sense, but what in the name of David Riske is going on here with Wheeler? He doesn't figure to be in the saves mix this season, unless Troy Percival and Al Reyes fall on their respective faces. Actually, on second thought ...

Eric Karabell is a senior writer for ESPN fantasy games. You can e-mail him here.

Eric Karabell | email

ESPN.com Senior Writer