Why Pedro Martinez Needs to Be a Met
I have not made it a secret that I am no fan of the World Baseball Classic. I don't like the general idea that players who have major league contracts and commitments are missing Spring Training in order to play around the world in March.
That being said, the WBC is good for one thing. It is good for minor leaguers and free agents hoping to spark interest from other major league teams looking to fill out their major and minor league rosters this month.
In fact, the WBC has been really good to one man in particular: Pedro Martinez.
Martinez looks healthy. He has lost weight, and his fastball and nasty changeup are back for the first time in years. He looks like the old Pedro again. In two outings for the Dominican Republic, Martinez has pitched six innings of shutout baseball.
And the guy doesn't have a major league contract at this moment in time.
Martinez has made it no secret that he wishes to pitch for the New York Mets this season, and the Mets better act and pick him up now before someone else does.
Just look at the ERAs of the Met pitchers competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Livan Hernandez has a 4.70 ERA. Jon Niese has a 9.00 ERA. Freddy Garcia has a 20.25 ERA. Tim Redding has a 135.135 ERA in just a third of an inning against the University of Michigan. That's right, the University of Michigan!
It's a no-brainer—Pedro Martinez needs to be a Met. He owes it to the Mets, since he missed out on the party in 2006, missed most of 2007, and pitched a little bit in 2008 because of nagging leg and groin injuries. He had only 48 starts in the last three years and a record of 17-15. He looked finished and was slowly declining into a five-inning pitcher.
We still don't know if Martinez can pitch more than five innings in a single game, but he did pitch three innings each in two games with just two days rest for the Dominican this week. It is worth the shot and worth the time.
In 2005, Martinez re-energized the Mets and their cynical fanbase with his on the mound brilliance and his clubhouse clown image. Remember the images of fans wearing Pedro wigs, and Martinez pointing up to the stands whenever he left the mound after a solid outing? That can be had again if Pedro returns to Queens.
Just imagine if the Mets sign Pedro now, who is available to take a physical and sign a contract now that the Dominican Republic was eliminated by the Netherlands. Imagine seeing No. 45 stroll to the mound, with his messy hair and blue glove in Port St. Lucie, and 5,000 fans on Spring Break standing and applauding their old friend home. It can be had again.
That is what the Mets need. They need Pedro's energy to get back to the postseason and obliterate the pain of the past.
Plus, Martinez would automatically become the Mets' No. 2 starter. John Maine has very little confidence in his pitches this spring and is coming off of a year with nagging arm trouble.
Mike Pelfrey may be the next 20-game winner one day, but he is still 25 years old and could suffer a sophomore slump if he doesn't get off to a fast start. Oliver Perez AKA Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is hard to figure. He pitches great sometimes and is just awful others.
Then there is the concern around Johan Santana's $137 million left elbow. All spring there have been questions about whether Santana will be able to pitch in the first week of the regular season.
If Martinez is a Met, then it's a no-brainer who will take the mound on opening day if Santana can't go.
If nothing else, the Mets can move Martinez into the bullpen as a long reliever come July, when younger flamethrowers may become available before the trade deadline. Martinez has even said as much, that he is willing to come out of the pen.
The Mets must pay up. Give Pedro his one-year deal with an option worth $2 to $3 million a year. There are no other viable options right now for the Mets in-house or on the market.
By the way, can you imagine if the Mets drop the ball on Pedro, like they did on Derek Lowe this winter, and Pedro ends up pitching for Atlanta, Florida, or (dare I say) Philadelphia?
Pay up, Omar. Pay up, Jeff and Fred Wilpon. Forget Bernie Madoff and Citi Field for two minutes and give Pedro Martinez his money. Lord knows he owes you one.
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