When news broke last week that the Phillies were talking with Pedro Martinez about a possible comeback tour, my knee—jerk reaction was to pin the tail on Amaro.
This guy is a diva, a primadonna, an ex—Met and hardly a team player. But it is hard to argue with the fact that he will go down in baseball lore as one of the most dominant pitchers of this generation.
Did it get any better than watching Roger Clemens battle Martinez? Those two shared a ferocity that few starting pitchers are able to maintain. They attacked hitters like closers, and they did it for seven to nine innings per start.
Of course, the images of Martinez as a Red Stocking and Expo have faded, leaving many people with images of Martinez the Met. As we all know, that Pedro was a far cry from the three—time Cy Young Award winner that the Mets hoped for when they signed him in 2004.
And that brings us to today...Pedro the Phillie.
All fans would agree that the deal is fair and the risk is low; as reported, a deal worth $1 million is one—fifth of the amount that Martinez was asking for at the onset of 2008. With incentives, the contract would net him $2.5 million. It's a reasonable deal.
The issue that has divided the fan base thus far is the belief that this guy, a guy that no other team was willing to touch, might not be able to help the Phillies at all. Fans bearing this mindset generally believe that the Phillies would be better off with a minor leaguer, rather than an ex—Met with a history of having an attitude.
Well, let's dismiss the notion that Martinez is a Met. Pedro only pitched three years with the Mets…he’ll retire a Red Sock, that’s for sure. He departed New York on bad terms with the team. The same club that signed him to his lucrative contract weren't exactly eager to give him a second chance to burn them. Pedro must be licking his chops at the opportunity to spoil the Mets' hopes of getting to the post—season.
As for the replacing Martinez with an available minor leaguer, I'm taking Martinez.
So far this year, the Phillies have trotted out two minor leaguers for spot starts, and although both performed well in short stints, both pitchers (Bastardo and Lopez) also ended up on the disabled list.
The fact of the matter is that Charlie Manuel would have been left trotting out his third minor league option—had they not signed Martinez—and at some point, the level of talent and readiness drops off. You have to wonder whether anything they have on the farm is ready for a big league call—up at this point.
Throw out last year and Pedro has been consistent throughout his entire career. Even in 2006 (when his record was 9-8), he made the All—Star team and sported a healthy K/9 and WHIP of 9.3 and 1.108, respectively.
In comparison, those numbers are better than every other starter on the current Phillies roster in 2009. We all know about the accolades (most notable, three-time Cy Young, five—time MLB ERA leader and a LOCK for Cooperstown), but most of us don't know about his background.
Pedro was born to play baseball; his father and older brother were both well known Dominican pitchers. His father, Paolino, played with Felipe and Matty Alou, and was said to be a strong pitcher, often pitching two games in one day. He was armed with a "murderous" major league sinker and a passion for the game.
The Alous have said that Paolino would have made a solid major leaguer, but missed his opportunity, skipping a tryout for the San Francisco Giants because he could not afford cleats. http://www.jockbio.com/HTML/memorabilia.html
Pedro's brother, Ramon, was an Olympian and was signed by the LA Dodgers.
I think that his family makeup is important because it shows a longstanding tradition of baseball. Pride is always an issue for guys like Pedro Martinez.
The other notable point is that Pedro certainly loves the spotlight and he loves to prove himself to new teammates.
In his first year with NY, he was 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA. In his first year with Boston, he was 19-7 with a 2.89 ERA. In his first year with Montreal he was 11-5 with a 3.42 ERA and with the Dodgers, in his first full season as a major leaguer, he was 10-5 with a 2.61 ERA.
Furthermore, he has pitched very well in the WBC. It’s not rocket science; he digs the spotlight, and he knows that he’ll get paid if he helps the Phillies win a World Championship.
There are doubts about whether Pedro can stay healthy and fool hitters with reduced velocity. For the small investment, it's worth the chance to see if he can be anything like the Pedro Martinez of old.