Unless he's pitching against your favorite team, it's quite difficult not to be a fan of Pedro Martinez.
Martinez is more than just a future Hall of Fame pitcher. He's an entertainer that often leaves his opponents baffled one minute but cracking up with laughter the next.
Lost in the Yankees' celebration of their 27th championship, and a Phillies team whose pitchers seemed to be struggling, there was Martinez. He was a mid-season acquisition that propelled the Phillies back into the World Series and was able to answer the bell two final times on the biggest stage in the game.
After a performance in the NLCS where he looked like the 1999 version of himself, he had a subpar World Series that saw him lose both of his starts. That will leave him with many questions to answer this offseason.
One must be careful when evaluating Martinez as a possible starter in 2010. On the one hand, he pitched phenomenal on extended rest. On the other hand, he struggled when called up to make consecutive starts on regular rest.
To be fair, reports have come out that Martinez was suffering from the flu for both his starts.
Martinez was able to show, in spots, against the Yankees just how effective he can still be. He has enough pitches in his arsenal with a wide enough variance in speed to still make batters look foolish.
He needs to continue to pitch similarly to Brewers' closer, Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman lost significant speed off his fastball but was still able to put together an All-Star season at 41 by pitching smarter and relying on movement over speed.
Martinez needs to continue to be able to accept his new makeup as a pitcher, but he also needs to spend the entire offseason preparing and training for it.
He has not made more than 24 starts in a season since 2005. Teams won't be willing to take a chance on him, no matter how good he may be, if he can only make a handful of starts. It's quite unlikely he'd go to a non-contending team, so he will be heavily counted upon to be a key member of a rotation.
The Phillies will likely be the top suitors for Martinez again. There will be several other teams that will come calling as well. He will be wanted, but will he reciprocate the feelings to a courting team?
Once Martinez decides if he will pitch in 2010, he must then figure out just how much he wants to pitch in 2010. He may decide to be a half-season pitcher like this season.
That will cost him a few million dollars, but it would also save a lot of wear and tear on his arm. It would also give him a chance to basically hand pick which contender he would want to pitch for.
Of course no one would blame Martinez for walking away at this point either. He is a sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Fame pitcher. He dominated the game in the middle of the biggest offensive era in the history of the game.
His final two performances would only serve as a footnote in his career, not as a defining moment of it.
Martinez may view his legacy differently. If sports fans have learned anything from the Brett Favre saga, it's that the legacy's ending belongs to the individual, not the millions of fans.
Only Martinez can decide how he wants to be remembered.
Regardless of his decision, Martinez will be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. Despite his small stature, he was a giant on the mound that dominated peers far superior in size with a style and charisma that likely won't ever be duplicated.
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