Pedro Martinez Wants an Encore

When Pedro Martinez signed with the New York Mets after the 2004 season, the two sides were a perfect fit. Martinez was on top of the heap, a world champion and three-time Cy Young winner looking for a new home after Curt Schilling elbowed him out of the spotlight in Boston. The Mets were mired in the muck, three straight losing seasons, but looking for an identity in Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph's first seasons. 

It worked splendidly at first, Martinez was stellar in 2005 and the Mets won 12 more games than the year before. After that, though, it didn't really work out. He was average in 2006 before tearing his rotator cuff and setting off a two-year odyssey of injury and intermittent pitching of a level not usually associated with the name Pedro Martinez. He talked openly about retiring and, frankly, pitched like a man with very few innings left in his right arm. If he did walk away, he'd still be one of the all-time greats and a sure Hall of Famer.

His agent, however, told the Daily News that Martinez now wants to play in 2009 and, more to the point, wants to play for the Mets. While they have an opening or two in their rotation, the Mets should pass. Part of fixing the bullpen that bedeviled them all last season is making sure that they get the maximum out of their starters. Martinez is a five-inning pitcher, when he's able to pitch, and that's not reliable enough for the Mets.  

Martinez may be able to make a Mike Mussina-type change in his approach now that he can't blow batters away but the Mets can't allow themselves to be the petri dish for that transformation. They're already counting on rookie Jon Niese for one spot and John Maine, he of the 100-pitches in four innings, for another. Throwing Martinez into the mix would tax the best of bullpens.

It shouldn't be forgotten what Martinez's acquisition meant for the team. Moving away from the bleak Art Howe years was necessary and Pedro made it instantaneous. They didn't capture that inital lightning in a bottle, though, and his tenure never quite went as planned. Giving it another year to happen isn't the right idea for the Mets, and Martinez should move on.

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