With each passing day Pedro Martinez is getting closer and closer to a Shea return. Taken at face value his performances in his first two rehab starts have been uninspiring:
7ip, 9h, 8r, 8er, 3hr, 1bb, 9k, 10.29era
The strikeout-to-walk ratio is excellent but everything else screams "not ready". Well, he isn't ready, at least not for big league games. That's not what these rehab starts are about for Pedro, who has been out of action for almost eleven months now. The actual results of his efforts right now -- and his rehabilitation over the past year -- are not about what his pitching line looks like but about his arm angle, his velocity, and his overall physical health after throwing eighty pitches from an actual mound on a real baseball field. It may just be a nothing start for the Class A St. Lucie Mets but you can be sure that it means a whole lot more for Pedro as well as for me and for every other Met fan who was there in 2004 when the Mets were a laughing stock of an organization.
The Mets may have a dogfight on their hands to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season but the fact that they are competitive at all is a thrill considering where they were before Pedro came aboard. It's easy to forget that Pedro Martinez single-handedly made the Mets a relevant franchise when he signed a four-year deal with them in the Winter of 2004. His motives weren't entirely altruistic: The Mets offered him a guaranteed fourth year when the Red Sox would not, so Pedro took the better offer and came to what was at the time a lame duck team that had just fired their lame duck manager (Art Howe) and pushed aside their lame duck GM (Jim Duquette). Omar Minaya took over as general manager, brought in Martinez, and the rest is recent history.
Pedro signed with the Mets at a time when it wasn't trendy to do so. The Mets have done a fine job developing superstars like Jose Reyes and David Wright, but a good organization has to be able to supplement their own talent with talent from other sources. Without Pedro the Mets probably wouldn't have signed Carlos Beltran. Again, the Mets *did* have the best offer on the table for Beltran, but Houston's offer at the time was comparable even if slightly inferior, and I have to wonder if he would have left that offer on the table if the Mets didn't offer a security blanket like Pedro Martinez in addition to a few more dollars.
As I mentioned last week, I would watch Pedro Martinez throw a bag of shit at a wall right about now, so the fact that he is throwing a baseball at a catcher's mitt is gravy to me. He feels good, his body is recovering well from each successive start, and he is on track to make a few more minor league appearances before joining the Mets at the end of August or early September. He isn't the savior he was three years ago, but don't underestimate the impact his return will have on the players, the fans, and the front office of the Mets.