With Kyle Kendrick doing his best Chan Ho Park imitation, and a few other warning signs illuminating, could the rumors about Ruben Amaro contacting Pedro Martinez's agent to negotiate a deal be true?
As I detailed on Tuesday in Top 10 Destinations For a Pedro Martinez Return in 2010, Martinez has made it clear that he wants to return to action, and there are many teams that could be a fit. Currently, most of those teams are likely waiting to see how their existing pitchers perform and where they stand in the playoff race.
The Philadelphia Phillies are off to their best start since 1993, but the events that have unfolded so far in this young season may have Amaro and manager Charlie Manuel sleeping a little less soundly. The injury bug snagged red-hot Jimmy Rollins and ever-emerging star Jayson Werth a few days ago, as well as starting pitcher Joe Blanton prior to the team departing Clearwater.
Additionally, Kendrick and Jamie Moyer turned in very strong spring training showings that bolstered confidence that the team might be six deep in starting pitchers, but that may have turned into a sinking feeling of late. Besides Kendrick bombing in his first two outings, Moyer also got roughed up by a struggling Houston Astros club.
Seeing free agent acquisition Danys Baez implode, and Ryan Madson struggle yesterday didn't help either. And, reports of closer Brad Lidge getting lit up by a single A team does nothing to increase REM sleep for the Phillies brass.
Could the starting pitching woes (and other events) have led Amaro to reach out to Pedro's agent to reconvene discussions about the future Hall of Famer returning to Philadelphia?
Although the Phillies General Manager denies any negotiations with a little verbal slight of hand, it is very conceivable that Amaro would like to get ahead of the competition and lay the groundwork to soothe a potential sore spot. He indicated that he "has had conversations" with the player's agent about keeping lines of communication open without providing any time frame.
It is doubtful that the Phillies would want to layer on almost a full season's salary; however, they may consider a midseason scenario that could entail a bargain price and only half a season's paychecks. Also, last year's experience would suggest that a lengthier preparation would be beneficial for Pedro to build arm strength and get stretched out.
Reaching an agreement sometime in May could translate to a return to the field around the All-Star break. With an already inflated 2010 payroll that had the Phillies trading Cliff Lee and forgo re-signing Park, bringing Martinez back would seem highly dependent on the total cost.
As detailed, a few other teams appeared to have a higher probability of striking a deal with the veteran pitcher, with finances and the spring performances of Kendrick and Moyer being the main factors pushing the Phillies down on the list.
Based on his comments during his stay in Philly and since that time, Philadelphia could very well be Pedro's No. 1 choice. He clearly enjoyed the team and atmosphere—and knows that the team is surely a championship contender. Winning a World Series appears to be his top objective over money or anything else.
Meanwhile, Kendrick and Moyer are sporting Adam Eaton-esque ERA's. Obviously, the sample size is low, but 17.47 and 7.50 ERA's respectively have a way of making the stomach churn.
Werth was back in the lineup yesterday, but since the "hip" injury has become the new "elbow," he will be watched closely. Of course, the most significant factor in the Pedro sweepstakes will be the performance of the starting pitchers, but losing offensive production increases its importance.
Moyer is slated to make his next start on Sunday against the Florida Marlins—a team that he has dominated in his career. Should he falter again, Amaro just may be calling Pedro's people before the day is done. After all, as a Philadelphian, even more famous than Pedro once said, "The early bird catches the worm."
Gary Suess is the founder of the Philadelphia Sports blog I'm Just Saying, Philly