Monday, December 13, 2004


Pedro is going to New York after all, just not the borrough that we thought. Omar Minaya, apparently suffering from the largest case of penis envy in all of baseball history, has inked the ever flakey pitcher to what appears to be a four year $50 Million deal. Minaya's overwhelming need to make a splash in his first job as a real general manager, if you can call the Mets a real organization, has led him to plead and beg at the doorstep of just about every big name player available. Sammy Sosa? No, ok, uh... how about Carl Pavano. No? Anyone have Richie Sexson's number? No? Ok, uh... does anyone want to play in Flushing? How about Pedro!?!

The Mets negotiate like a tired mother who's fourth child is asking for a candy bar in the checkout line at Safeway. If you sat in the lobby of the Anaheim Marriot you could almost hear Minaya's voice through three floors above, whining, "Pleeeeeeeease, Pedro, pretty pleeeeeeeease...!" I'm impressed that Minaya held out as long as he did before he gave Pedro everything he wanted.

Ok, so I'm a bit bitter about this.

I'm sure you'll find other members of Red Sox Nation who welcome this deal. It's time to move on, they'll say. It was time to unite the clubhouse. We don't to put up with Pedro's antics any longer. Well, this is just one man's opinion, but if Pedro's antics include winning baseball games, I'm all for putting up with them.

I saw an interesting stat today. I'm paraphrasing here, but Pedro's ERA last year was about 3.90, which is often sited as proof of his decline. There could be some validity to that, but consider this: aside from four particulary bad starts last year, Pedro's ERA was under 2.90. Everyone has a couple bad outtings. Just ask Roger Clemens, who's lousy start came in front of a national TV audience at the All-Star game in Houston. (Thanks for homefield, Roger!) The point is that while the Pedro of 1999 is probably gone for good, the Pedro of 2004 is still one of the very best starting pitchers in all of baseball.

So, fallout time. Without Pedro, the Red Sox rotation goes from world-beating to average. Schilling is still a great pitcher too, but he'll be 38 this year. The guy who's scheduled to follow him in the rotation. David Wells, is 42. Wells is a good number three starter, but a mediocre number two. If the Red Sox want to win one hundred games next season they're going to have to go get another high quality starter. The problem with that is there aren't any more good starters available on the market. Pavano is gone. So is Pedro. That was pretty much the upper echelon right there. Matt Clement is still available, but no matter how good his peripheral numbers are, it's doubtful he'll end up as a good number two guy. And it's even more doubtful that he'll end up in Boston.

This does open up some money for the Red Sox to play with. Edgar Renteria is still out there, and I would expect that Theo will try is darnedest to get him to sign on the dotted line as soon as possible. But the upgrade between Orlando Cabera and Renteria, if it happens, isn't going to make up for the loss of Pedro Martinez. Signing Renteria does allow for the possibility of trading shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez, possibly to Oakland in a deal for Tim Hudson, or to Florida for A.J. Burnett. Hudson would be a great addition, but Oakland doesn't need Ramirez, who likely won't be ready for the big leagues until 2006. Burnett would be good pick up, but he doesn't fill the bill of a number one guy like Pedro or Hudson.

This is the crux of the Red Sox newly minted problem. They didn't want to pay Pedro what turned out to be the going rate. Thats fine. I'm all for running an organization intelligently, and for not overpaying for an older player. Obviously Theo Epstein had enough questions about Pedro's health that he opted for something else. My question is, what else is there? I'm open to see what Epstein, who so far in his short tenure has shown himself to be enormously adept at wheeling and dealing, can do.

As for the Mets, their rotation obviously just got a whole lot better. They'll face the inevitable health questions (how soon will is arm actually fall off?) and of course they'll have to deal with Pedro's more flakey moments, which are sure to come. Despite all that, this deal improves the Mets a whole lot, and it improves the Mets rotation even more. This signing pushes every starting pitcher in the rotation down one slot. Kris Benson is not a particularly good pitcher, but he'll be much better as a number three or four than a number two or one. Same with Tom Glavine.

Will this help the Mets make the playoffs? Well, it won't hurt. The NL East looks to be a division where a team that wins 92 games could come home with the crown. The Phillies are not a well run team, though they probably have more talent than the Mets. It doesn't seem to matter who the Braves suit up, so long as they are wearing an "A" on their hats when they take the field. If the Marlins young pitchers can stay healthy then they could be a force, but I'll believe that when I see it. That and they lost the 18 wins that Pavano gave them last season as well.

This whole deal is a bucket of ice water on the head of a still celebrating Red Sox Nation.

This offseason isn't done yet. The Red Sox could still upgrade their rotation by getting any number of guys. They could get younger. They could get closer to that ever elusive 'payroll flexibility' that you hear so much about. Heck, they could even get better. But, for now, it's looking like this offseason marks the end of the Red Sox oh-so-brief run at the top of baseball.

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