Mets fans shouldn't care about Pedro

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As much as SportsNet New York tried to stoke emotion by airing Pedro
Martinez’s presser with the Phillies on Wednesday, he might as well of
been Steve Trachsel up there. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh, but
hear me out.

Martinez has this almost mythic quality among Mets fans for “turning
the franchise around,” but how can he get credit for something that
never actually happened? He ended up as a four-year window-dressing for
a poorly constructed franchise. Sure, Pedro had his moments with the
club, from the 12 strikeouts against the Reds in his first start as a
Met to the time the sprinklers went off at Shea Stadium (that was cool,
huh?) to the 2.82 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 2005. His starts were an event
in 2005 and the early part of 2006. But that’s where it ends. One good
year and three clunkers. All for the bargain price of $53 million.

It was fun. It was nice. He’s a future Hall of Famer after all, but
Petey never threw a pitch in the 2006 playoffs. And as the Mets were
choking away another division title in 2008, Martinez had a 7.77 ERA
and 1.95 WHIP in four September starts. Not what the Mets paid for.

So I look at Martinez for what he is. A guy who put up a -2.2 VORP
in 2008. 76 National League starters with at least 80 innings pitched
ranked higher than him. And this included the likes of Tim Redding,
Saul Rivera and Shawn Chacon. You know, real difference-makers.

Was Martinez putting on the jersey of the rival-Phillies supposed to
hurt? Knowing that he has a 7.85 ERA in four career starts at Citizens
Bank Park made it a lot easier to swallow.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.