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On the Outside, Looking In: Pedro Martinez

Keith Schlosser@KnicksJournal Analyst IJuly 15, 2009

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10:  Pedro Martinez #45 of the Dominican Republic pitches against the Netherlands during the 2009 World Baseball Classic Pool D match at Hiram Bithorn Stadium March 10, 2009 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

At the All-Star Game in 1999, Martinez experienced all the hype -- in addition to being swarmed by the media, he was able to rub elbows with some of the game’s best, enjoying some of baseball’s most fun-filled festivities, including being the American League’s starting pitcher.

This week, as the MLB season reaches its midseason classic, the league again pauses to celebrate and have its best participate in such festivities.

Martinez, although a participant of some sorts this week, is not exactly the type of participant he or baseball fans expected him to be.

Instead, he has been scurrying to agree to a contract and pass a physical in Philadelphia, in order to join the Phillies.

Martinez, a future Hall of Famer, figured he would attempt to accomplish what Roger Clemens did when he chose to sit out part of the season before signing with the Astros and Yankees, in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Unfortunately, it has thus far been a bumpy road. Unlike Clemens, who took pauses from the game while in top form, Martinez’s left baseball after the 2008 season.

That season had proven to be the worst season of his career as he battled injuries and what appeared to be pure deterioration. Posting a 5-6 record, Martinez had a career high 5.61 earned run average and only 87 strikeouts through 109 innings in 20 starts.

Barely able to last over five innings per start, Martinez looked much more like a mop-up pitcher than a Hall of Famer.

Even so, after pitching for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Martinez reported himself to be in his best shape in years, with an asking price of $5 million, plus incentives, to pitch the rest of the season.

Although Martinez did tally six strikeouts in six scoreless innings during the WBC, he did not once make a start.

Even so, teams were still curious about how much fuel Martinez had left in his tank.

After watching him pitch in his country, the Rays, Cubs, Yankees, and Angels had seen enough and were not interested. The Dodgers, who were reported to have had interest as well, were not interested in his price tag.

With the word traveling fast, Martinez’s window of opportunity was closing rapidly.

Fortunately for him, Phillies scouts, who were last to watch Martinez throw, were quite impressed. They even went as far as to say that Martinez looked to be in better shape than he was as a rival Met (a tad biased, perhaps? Just kidding.)  

However, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was not quite ready to jump on the band wagon.

"For myself, I'm a firm believer that in the Major Leagues today, if you go back and look and you look at All-Star teams and things like that, the good pitchers are young pitchers," said Manuel earlier last week. "Young pitchers with high-ceiling stuff, plus they're good enough right now to throw strikes.”

Manuel obviously makes a terrific point with his concern, as Martinez has knowingly lost velocity and stamina.

Despite being in such fit shape, Martinez is expected to spend three weeks in extended spring training before joining the team.

That, in conjunction with Martinez’s original asking price already being too steep, is why he is expected to take a massive pay cut after joining the Phillies.

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Martinez will make a guaranteed $1 million this season, with another $1.5 million possible in incentives.  

Now, after letting so much time pass from being stingy about his paycheck, Martinez finally has flown into Philadelphia, and after passing his physical, will become a Philadelphia Philly on Wednesday.

When he finally takes that first pitch off the mound in 2009, whenever that may be, it will be interesting to see if such an investment will pay off. However, to me, a contract of sorts would just be a perfect marriage of two delusional parties.

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