Beckett or Zambrano? You'd be surprised

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Beckett or Zambrano? You'd be surprised

A friend e-mailed me last week with the following question:

Who do you think has had the better career, Josh Beckett or Carlos Zambrano?

Now, when someone asks you a question like that, you always know the answer. In this case, Zambrano, because if it was Beckett, there'd be no reason to ask.

But while my answer was based on lazy logic, his explanation was far more thorough, and I thought, interesting enough to share:

Here's the breakdown:

Zambrano has more top 10 CY Young finishes (3-2) In Zambranos worst season (last year), he posted a 81 ERA. This was by far the worst of his career, with his second-worst coming in 2007 (117 ERA). Beckett has had seasons of 99, 95 and 75 (for the Sox in 2010) Zambranos best season? 2004 -- when he went 16-8 with a 2.75 ERA and an ERA of 160. Becketts best season? Statistically it was last year 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA and an ERA of 147. (Side note: After Becketts September 5 start, his ERA stood at 2.49. Over his last three starts, 2 losses and 1 no-decision, his ERA increased 0.4 runs per game -- resulting from 12 ER in 13.1 IP -- in his last two starts against Baltimore.) Zambrano has been much more consistent and has had many fewer bad seasons than Beckett. Zambrano's career ERA is 122. Beckett's is 115.

So there it is. Pretty compelling argument, right? Obviously, this doesn't include Beckett's two World Series rings, and more importantly, the legendary individual performances that earned him both. (For his career, Beckett is 7-3 in in 13 career playoff starts, with a 3.07 ERA. On the other hand, Zambrano is 0-2 in five career playoff starts with a 4.34 ERA.)

Also, if you had to choose one of these guys -- in their primes -- to start one game, you'd have definitely chosen Beckett. Not to mention, that while Beckett hasn't always been the best clubhouse influence, he looks like Ghandi (huge glue guy on India's gold medal winning team at the 1918 Far Eastern Games) compared to Zambrano.

But the numbers don't lie. These two are a lot closer than you probably ever imagined -- at least April through September.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."