We've hated him for a long time. From the time he arrived in Boston from Montreal in 1998, Pedro Martinez has been among the most prominent names on the Empire's list of public enemies.
From 1998 to 2000, he went 60-17 with a 2.25 ERA and an unearthly 11.49 strikeouts per nine innings, giving the Red Sox arguably the best pitcher in the American League. Though his numbers declined afterward, he remained a thorn in the Yankees' side and Boston's most prominent face of the rivalry for years afterward.
He opened up one game in 2003 by hitting Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter back-to-back. Both had to leave the game. Then, in that year's ALCS, he threw septugenarian Don Zimmer to the ground in the middle of the Game Three brawl that helped define the series. He was on the mound when the Yankees made their last miraculous comeback of the Torre Era six days later.
And he seemingly forced his way into a middle-relief role to make sure he was on the mound for at least one inning of the final game of the Yankees' collapse the next year.
Four and a half years, several injuries, and another Boston championship later, the 37-year-old Martinez is a free agent, and the Daily News is reporting that Yankees' scouts are among those pursuing his services. Looking down at the shocked, angry comments from the users on the bottom of the page, this seems to be the most unpopular idea in New York in, well, maybe ever.
But I think we should get him.
OK, let me qualify: I think, if the only cost of having Pedro Martinez is the $3 million or so he'll likely demand, it's a gamble that Brian Cashman should take.
I'm not arguing for the ouster of Wang (or Hughes, as the case may soon be) from the rotation. I'm not sure Martinez has the arm strength or the durability at this point in his career to even be a starter anymore. But he did throw six scoreless innings in relief during the World Baseball Classic; I say we add him to our bullpen.
The other option, with Wang's ineffectiveness forcing the Yankees' hand as far as keeping Joba Chamberlain in the rotation, seems to be trading for another proven reliever before the deadline, but that's a move that will cost the Yankees prospects as well as money. Kerry Wood is the biggest name who's likely to be available, and Cleveland is going to require plenty in return.
Signing Martinez as an extra weapon in the bullpen adds insurance in case Bruney's arm doesn't hold up, or in case either Aceves or Coke hits the skids. And it costs, in Yankee terms, next to nothing.
Plus, the move offers an added bonus in the potential that Martinez could be called upon in the late innings of a big game against Boston, shut them down, and drive every sports fan in New England a little bit crazier.
I don't see how we can pass.