Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Martinez the Met is a good idea

Pedro's in pinstripes. OK, so those are going to be royal blue Mets pinstripes rather than navy blue Yankees pinstripes. But why quibble with such minutiae?

The Mets' signing of Pedro Martinez is an extremely good move by general manager Omar Minaya. Of course, Martinez is more flighty than one of his hanging curveballs to Hideki Matsui, so he could feasibly wake up Tuesday morning, scream "Aye, Papi, what have I done?", shave his head and go back to the Boston Red Sox.

Until that happens, I will proceed with my thoughts based on the reported notion that Pedro Martinez is about to become a New York Met.

Met fans are tortured souls, at least ever since 2000. They read of the Pedro signing and feel the groin kicks delivered by the signing and subsequent flopping of Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn.

Pedro, good enough to be referred to by his first name and have everyone know precisely who we speak of, is still a dominant pitcher. He may have stolen Darryl's hair from "Coming to America," but he automatically becomes the ace of the Mets' staff. It is patently ignorant to think otherwise.

You'll claim Pedro is just a six-inning pitcher nowadays. He averaged 6 2/3 innings per start in 2004. He averaged 9.41 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.17 base runners per inning. Simply stated, that is very good.

Again you'll claim Pedro is a six-inning pitcher nowadays. Guess what: the National League doesn't use a DH and is generally considered to be a weaker-hitting league aside from just the DH.

Then you'll say he gets hurt all the time and has a feeble shoulder. He made 33 starts in 2004, the same amount as Mets leaders Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel.

Then you'll claim he's not what he was. This point is true but Pedro is still extremely effective. He won't hit 97 on the radar gun anymore but his changeup is very effective. Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals, that amazing offense which collected all of three -- THREE! -- hits and no runs in seven innings against Pedro in the World Series. You're right. He's not what he once was. In 1998, he would have only given up two hits.

Then you'll complain about 2008, when Pedro is earning a guaranteed $14 million or so and would be 37. Presumably, he would be much less effective then. I cannot dispute that. However, Mets fans should look at this through the other side of the glass. If Pedro has the Mets in contention in September -- or even August -- for the next two years, are you really going to be upset in that fourth year if he doesn't live up to his reputation? If you are, then you are not very intelligent and should probably stop reading immediately, sell your computer and hope the local car wash has an opening for a windshield washer.

If Pedro can win 16-18 games, a highly feasibly if, the Mets will be contending for a wild card, maybe even the division crown in the weak NL East. The rotation of Pedro, Glavine, Trachsel, Benson and Zambrano is very good. It puts the Mets in the top 5 of NL rotations, with Houston and the Cubs running 1-2, depending on Roger Clemens.

However, it is clear the Mets need more help than just Pedro. Another bat or two in the lineup and some bullpen assistance (enjoy Felix Heredia, he's fun) are needed to make the Mets an attractive preseason playoff pick.

Dennis Miller-esque rant alert! Dennis Miller-esque rant alert! Anyone who just makes blanket statements such as "Dump Piazza and Floyd" and other inane remarks doesn't understand baseball. They can only dream of Windexing other people's windshields for $1 per car. Teams just don't take on $15 million salaries for average players -- not even the Yankees. It's just not that easy to ship off Floyd and Piazza like that. They have little market value. It's like trying to sell your 1988 IBM computer with Windows 3.1, a 5 1/4-inch floppy drive and 1.2 megabyte hard drive for $500. We now return you to our scheduled writing.

Pedro is the first step to making the Mets a contender. He brings a face to the organization aside from Minaya. Besides, if a team is winning, who cares about the GM? Pedro will also put fans in the seats in July and August, maybe even October. He's a proven winner and has shown the capability to handle pressure.

Of course, Pedro could break his arm right after crossing the t in his last name when signing his Mets contract.

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