Pedro Martinez the closer?
The Cooperstown-bound pitcher, who spent 18 MLB seasons between five teams, including the Red Sox, Mets and Expos, discussed the hypothetical in a Hall of Fame conference call last Thursday.
Martinez was a setup man with the Dodgers in 1993, making 63 relief appearances in 65 games that year. He was 10-5 during that time with two saves in three opportunities.
The 5-11, 170-pound righthander was traded to the Expos soon after and blossomed into a dominant starter. But could he have been a great closer?
"I won't say I could be Mariano Rivera because Mariano is the best I've ever seen at doing that," Martinez said. "But, I would say that I was given two opportunities to close games by the Dodgers and both of them were with bases loaded. You never know. I would have to be given the opportunity to close games. And every time I was given a game to close, I did close it."
Rivera came to be a respected and familiar opponent when Martinez went to Boston in 1998. Martinez was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA in seven dominant years with the Red Sox. He led the AL in ERA four times while with Boston. The eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young winner was a key part of Boston's 2004 World Series championship.
But if Martinez had his way, he and Rivera wouldn't have been on opposite sides.
"I wanted a team like the Yankees. I wanted a team like Baltimore," Martinez said when asked about his move from the Expos to Red Sox. "I wanted a team that would give me an opportunity to win. And Boston wasn't a team that looked anywhere near [ready] to win it."