I love Pedro Martinez. He is one of my favorite players ever. He’s an all time great pitcher, number 4 in my eyes, has a great personality, and he is just plain fun to watch. Back in 2005 when he was signed, I, like many Mets fans, was ecstatic. We finally had a true star pitcher, who just so happened to be coming off a World Series victory. Was the contract excessive? Sure. Even after signing Beltran, were the 2005 Mets a playoff caliber team? Not at all. But none of that mattered when Pedro was on the mound. It was just a hell of a feeling watching Pedro pitch every fifth day, knowing that the Mets were going to be in every single one of those games.
Here we are now, going into the 2010 season, and once again Pedro is a free agent. Under the right circumstances, I want him back.
As of now the 2010 Mets have three rotation spots filled, Johan, Pelfrey and Sandy Koufax. Maine is still an option for the fourth and Niese could win the fifth. However, Maine is extremely injury prone as we know, and Niese is coming off of a major leg injury so hopefully he will be in Buffalo where at worst he can fill in for an injury.
The free agent pitchers available this off season are anything but awe inspiring. Lackey is almost the best, but not worth the contract he’s looking at. Harden and Sheets, personal favorites, are both extremely talented but not particularly durable. Honestly, those would be my two choices if I had a say. Sure it’s risky, but they’re upside is ridiculous. After them there are a bunch of solid if unspectacular options, Garland, Pineiro, Marquis, Wolf, etc.
So why do I want to take a gamble on a 38 year old, injury prone pitcher? Mostly sentimentality. Yeah, logic is awesome, but sometimes you just want to root for one of your favorite guys. If I have to choose between Redding or Pedro, or Livan and Pedro, gimme Pedro… and shelter.
Now, there no way should Pedro be a priority, but after signing a guy like Harden, we’ll still need a fifth starter. Personally, I’m not too keen on spending $10 million per for three years on one of the aforementioned pitchers, and after last season’s one year, $1 million contract, it seems unlikely Pedro would make much more than $3 million next season (I have been wrong about contracts before, just a warning). If the Mets were to sign him, I think the the year, $3 million dollar option would be fair, perhaps with a vesting option for $17.5 million should he start four games.
Of course, had Pedro been terrible last year, I would not be advocating signing him, but he was pretty decent for the Phillies. In the 44.2 innings he threw for the Phils in the regular season, he had a solid 4.28 FIP. In addition he struck out batters at a respectable 7.49 K/9 rate, with excellent control only walking 1.61 batters per nine innings. His average against was pretty high, but that could be due to a slightly inflated .315 BABIP.
One of the major concerns with Pedro when he was a Met was his velocity. While he’ll never throw 97 again, he was able to regularly throw around 90 mph. In his 44.2 innings last year, Pedro’s fastball averaged 89.2 mph, up slightly from 2008 by .7 mph. His pitches exhibited pretty solid movement as well. He still looks like he can be a solid starter for at least one more season.
The biggest concern regarding Pedro is his health. He hasn’t pitched a complete season since 2005, though he did throw over 100 innings for us in 2008. With the news that he wants to pitch the entire 2010 season and not half like Clemens did is what makes him such a risk. As much as I like Pedro, it’s hard to justify him as a main part in the rotation for the entire year if there are better options. However, should Garland, Marquis, Wolf or Pineiro be looking for an Ollie-esque contract, and should we be only able to sign one of, or God forbid neither, Harden and Sheets, I think Pedro is as good of an option for fifth starter as anyone out there.