06/18/2009 12:23 PM ET
On patience and Pedro
With the hitters market murky, low-risk Martinez makes sense
By Ted Berg / SNY.tv
C'mon, you know it would be fun. (AP)

The Mets must get a bat right now, this instant. No time to waste. The trade deadline is 39 games away. The Phillies will certainly have a 42-game lead by then if Omar Minaya does not act with the utmost urgency. He must get Mark DeRosa at all costs. No runners will be stranded once The Versatile DeRosa arrives. He must get DeRosa. Or not DeRosa. He must get someone and he must get him soon, and so I will say it on talk radio and post it on the Internet and write it in the newspaper.

I trust you're picking up the sarcasm, and if I'm laying it on obnoxiously thick, I apologize. And the truth is, yeah, the Mets could use a bat. They could also use a starting pitcher or three, plus probably a middle infielder, a catcher and maybe a bullpen arm, too. The one thing they've got no shortage of is shortages.

None of those needs outweighs the need for a bat right now, but that doesn't mean Minaya should go out and get a bat right now.

The Mets have done a nice job treading water with so many players on the disabled list, and it's not a safe bet they'll continue. But what Mets fans often forget, I think, is that the Phillies aren't perfect, either. And it's not like going out and getting a run-producer is easy. To get something, the Mets will have to give something up, and right now at least two of the Mets' better chips -- Jonathon Niese and Daniel Murphy -- are struggling and would likely bring back less in a trade than they would have at any point in the past nine months.

So it might behoove Minaya to take his time, believe it or not. I have no idea who is available -- as I've written before, I'm not really sure anyone really does -- but I know that first base is by far the best offensive position in baseball and so by its very nature the easiest position at which to find an offensive upgrade, especially for a team that's not getting much from its first basemen. And with Carlos Delgado's status uncertain, it would seem imprudent to spend much in the way of prospects or cash to bring in a player that could ultimately create a logjam situation. Yes, the possibility exists that Delgado never returns or won't return at full strength, but the Mets should take their time assessing his recovery before determining whether to add a bat and what position said bat should play.

That strengthens the case to add a guy like DeRosa, but part of what you pay for in acquiring DeRosa is his defensive flexibility. If you're getting him to only play first base, you're paying a premium to obtain someone who would amount to a below-average bat at the position.

That's why the whole "now" thing just doesn't sit well with me; the Mets are faced with too much uncertainty. And even if it's about adding an outfielder, it's just not a good approach. Think about it: Do you really want an obviously desperate Minaya calling Billy Beane to talk about Matt Holliday? Does anyone think that would end well?

If there's any move the Mets should make immediately, though, it's this: Sign Pedro Martinez.

Unlike a power bat, Martinez would only cost money, and probably not a ton of it. Granted, that's easy for me to say -- it's not my money. And it's easier for me to say because I'm not ashamed to admit that when it comes to Pedro, I'm a pathetic, fawning fanboy.

When I argued for Pedro's inclusion in the rotation this offseason I recognized it as irrational, but now I think it might be perfectly reasonable. Check it out: Even in Pedro's 20 starts last season, pitching through injury and everything else, he was better than Tim Redding has been in 2009.

Could the Mets find someone better than Pedro was for those 20 starts last season? Probably, but he'll probably cost more, too. And it's not like starting-pitching depth is a problem that's going away. Plus, what Pedro Martinez offers that very few others do is the tiny, tiny possibility that he can pitch like some semblance of vintage Pedro Martinez. It's quite unlikely, sure. But his people claim he's hitting 93-94 miles per hour on the gun, and the Rays and Cubs -- two teams with more viable starters than the Mets -- are reportedly interested.

Redding, unlike Pedro Martinez, has absolutely no chance of ever pitching like Pedro Martinez. He has that in common with Livan Hernandez, Fernando Nieve and the overwhelming majority of humanity. It's impossible to expect Martinez to stay healthy for any prolonged period of time, but the upside is too big to ignore and the cost -- a couple of million dollars for a team with a $150 million payroll -- is too small for a pitcher whose floor is probably higher than what the team is currently getting out of its fifth starter.

Again, I'm not saying I think Pedro will pitch like he did in 2005 or in his five-start cameo in 2007. It's way more likely he pitches like he did in 2006 or 2008, or that he gets hurt and doesn't pitch at all. But it's such a small risk for such a potentially huge reward, so it's one that seems silly not to take.

Some argue that the Mets shouldn't take on Pedro's ego in part because it would be hard on the clubhouse and in part because it would be tough to cut him if things went awry. I think the case of St. Gary Sheffield in 2009 should help dismiss the first part of that argument. As for the second -- and this is coming from a serious Pedro fan, remember -- whatever. Baseball and life are full of hard choices, and if the Mets weren't worried about offending Pedro by not signing him when he was campaigning to rejoin the team this offseason, they shouldn't worry about offending him in some scenario in which he remains healthy but pitches ineffectively and they somehow have more enticing options for the rotation.

And with signing Pedro, unlike with acquiring a bat, it makes sense to make haste. It's like why you spend more time thinking about what car to buy than what sandwich. With the car, you figure out which car you want, make sure you're get the best deal and make sure you're getting proper trade-in value on your old car. With the sandwich, you just look in the little deli window to make sure the meat looks OK, find out how much the sandwich costs, then buy it and hope it tastes good.

And with Pedro, the Mets have the chance to buy a sandwich with some very slim chance of turning into a Maserati (hopefully one that comes with a sandwich).

Ted Berg is the senior editorial producer for SNY.tv. He can be reached at tberg@sny.tv or via the Flushing Fussing Facebook group.
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