Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Let's Get Physical
2004-12-15 13:45
by Alex Belth

Pedro Martinez is not officially a member of the Metropolitans yet, but that hasn't prevented folks from weighing in with their take on his situation. Tom Verducci and Peter Gammons do not think it is an especially wonderful deal for the Mets. I asked Edward Cossette, author of the now deceased Bambino's Curse website, for his reaction:

I'll always have great memories of Pedro, from his incredible sick from flu relief appearance against Cleveland in the '99 ALDS to all the goofy antics he pulled in the dugout -- But it's been a couple of years now since I felt secure as a fan watching him pitch. In that sense, I'm actually relieved that he's gone. No more wondering if every pitch will be his last. And this frees up a lot of cash for other signings, like Edgar Renteria, which is breaking news that he signed with the Sox as I type. Theo doesn't waste time.

Apparently not. Another Sox fan, ESPN's Bill Simmons, writes:

I can't emphasize this point strongly enough: Pedro's shocking departure was the worst possible thing that could have happened. Losing the most exciting pitcher in the history of the franchise was bad enough. Losing him because he leveraged the good will of the championship season into a far-too-generous offer from the Red Sox, then leveraged that offer into a suicidal contract from the Mets -- four years and $54 million for a six-inning pitcher with a history of shoulder problems -- I mean, how are we supposed to feel about this guy now?

Did he care about those seven years in Boston at all? Was he another hired gun like Clemens? Were all the stories about him true, that he was a prima donna who only looked out for himself? And most importantly, would this change the way we remembered his contribution to the first World Series title in 86 years? We spent the past three months basking in the glow of October, reveling in everything good about sports. Then Pedro did his best to ruin the moment. I don't know if I can forgive him.

In the Times, Harvey Araton has little sympathy for the Red Sox organization:

In the mythologized sports world we wish could still exist, if it ever did, Martínez would remain in Boston with all the others who undid 86 years' worth of October disillusionment, and we would find out next season what these Yankees - still without the southpaw pitching to neutralize the murderous left-handers in the Red Sox lineup - can do without their stolen front-runners' swagger.

It just does not work that way, in any sport, on any team, least of all the Boston Red Sox under the calculating leadership of Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein. Loyalty? Where is it for Derek Lowe, who has averaged 17 victories for them over the last three years, who saved Game 5 of the division series against Oakland in 2003, who won Game 7 against the Yankees last October and closed out the Cardinals in the World Series?

To this point, the Red Sox have offered Lowe arbitration or an escort to the Rhode Island border, cast him as an unwanted party boy, and turned around to hand a fat contract to the bloated and the injury prone bar-hopper David Wells, age 41. Loyalty? This time last year, the Red Sox put Martínez's good friend Manny Ramirez on waivers, and plotted to unload Nomar Garciaparra, finally dealing him last summer to the Cubs.

Loyalty? The other day, the word out of Boston was that the Red Sox were firing Bill Morgan, their 2004 postseason most valuable physician, whose improvisational suturing of Curt Schilling's right ankle kept the World Series dream from rupturing altogether.

Meanwhile, what about the Yankees in all of this? Well, in the latest edition of Pinstriped Bible, Steven Goldman, 'splains the awful truth about the Yankees new second baseman, Tony Womack:

This is the worst move by the Yankees of the last decade. Womack is a player without redeeming features. He can’t hit. He is a poor fielder. His main skill, stealing bases, has little relevance to a power-hitting offense. A career .274/.319/.362 hitter, he reached a late peak last year, hitting .307/.349/.385. Not only are these numbers unexceptional by the standards of the league, but it is highly unlikely that Womack will reach them again.

Reaching for Womack when there were better, albeit more expensive options on the market again suggests the Yankees are trying to reign in their spending. It’s wasted effort because at the All-Star break, Alfonso Soriano will be back on the organizational radar screen. It would be in the organization’s best interest to give Robinson Cano a legitimate shot to win the job at spring training, and failing that to promote him at the soonest opportunity and reduce Womack to reserve status.

What gets me going is the thought of Womack leading off. But you know what? Even if Torre starts the season in that manner, it won't be long before Womack will be batting ninth, don't you think?

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