This N’ That With Tony Mack: Make Room For Daddy: Pedro Comes To Flushing

By Tony McClean
Updated: December 17, 2004

Omar Minaya (left) and Willie Randolph (right) welcome Pedro Martinez.
Omar Minaya (left) and Willie Randolph (right) welcome Pedro Martinez.

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — With visions of past Winter Meetings’ blunders (Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla, Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar) still dancing in their heads, the reaction by Met fans to the signing of Pedro Martinez has been a bit mixed.

Yes, the “Daddy” was 16-9 with an ERA just under 4.00 last year. But listening to the New York media and others, Pedro is apparently one pitch away from retirement. ESPN’s Jayson Stark even reported that Martinez’s labrum has a tear the size of the “San Andreas Fault”.
If that’s the case, then why did the Red Sox even offer him a three-year deal? Did boy genius Theo Epstein suddenly get hit with Dan Duquette disease or did New York GM Omar Minaya step up to the plate trying to improve the Amazins’.
Ready or not, Pedro is in Flushing and you get the feeling that Minaya isn’t done dealing. Especially with the Braves countering the Mets’ move with Tim Hudson and John Smoltz’s sudden return as a starter.
As for Pedro, it seems that there are a lot of urban myths surrounding his decline and supposed imminent fall. Yes, he’s 33 and doesn’t dominate anymore, but guess who was second in the AL in strikeouts last year. Only Cy Young winner Johan Santana’s 265 Ks were more than Pedro’s 227.
There’s also the one about now that he’s in the National League, he’ll shy away from pitching inside. Wrong again. All you have to do is look at Pedro’s previous NL history with the Dodgers and Expos.
The L.A. brass got rid of Martinez during the winter of 1993 for Delino DeShields (Whoa!! Who approved that trade??) because they were afraid of his wildness and temperment.
In his 23 starts in 1994 for the Expos, Pedro was ejected 12 times and participated in three fights, including one precipitated by Cincinnati’s Reggie Sanders when he was hit in the arm by a Martinez fastball. The plunking came with one out in the eighth inning — Martinez had been working on a perfect game.
A year later, Pedro hit 11 batters and received three warnings — plus a $500 fine for pelting Houston’s Luis Gonzalez. Martinez denied that he targeted opposing batters, instead maintaining that his tiring arm would sometimes cause fastballs to sail away wildly.
Then again in September of 1996, Martinez was suspended for eight games for charging the mound after the Phillies’ Mike Williams threw at him twice in retaliation for beaning Philadelphia outfielder Gregg Jefferies.
If nothing else, Pedro gives the Mets a still dominant pitcher with an attitude that this slumbering ballclub has lacked for quite a while. Imagine what would have happened if he was with them during the 2000 World Series.
Do you think Roger Clemens would have even thought about throwing a ball and or a bat at Mike Piazza if Pedro was around? I think not.
Yes, the jury is still out on whether a four-year deal was too much for Martinez. But if he puts up the numbers he has over the last two seasons, he immediately becomes New York’s ace. Now what Minaya must do is sure up a questionable bullpen at best.
Finally, I must ask Boston fans this: Who’s declining more: Pedro or David Wells?