Pedro Martinez all but lobbying for a new Mets contract is a slightly depressing proposition ; it’s unlikely the talismanic pitcher will return to Flushing, his dominant performances in ’05 and the first half of ’06 being a very distant memory compared to the past couple of injury plagued campaigns. “Four years wasn™t too much to give Pedro. Two, it seems, was pushing it” scolds NY Magazine’s self-proclaimed lifelong Cardinals fans Will Leitch.
“Conventional wisdom still says that the trade was crucial because it œlegitimized the Mets, making the team seem more serious and attractive to free agents. Here™s a more logical theory: The reason free agents came to Shea was because the Mets offered more money than anybody else. Every big-timer the Mets scooped up ” Carlos Beltran (2005), Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado (2006), Johan Santana and Luis Castillo (2008) ” were showered with cash. 2007, when they brought in no free agents, was the year they were outbid for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Barry Zito.
And about the wisdom of all these signings: Pedro™s early œsuccess fooled the Mets into thinking big-name players were all it took to become champions. (Or become the Yankees ” whatever.) Thus: Beltran, solid; Wagner, destroyed by injuries; Delgado, initially effective and then a mess until the second half of last season; Santana, outstanding ” for now, just like Pedro in his first season ” and with five more years to go; and Castillo, horrific, and with three more years to go. The team spent a ton of money with no World Series to show for it. Once those contracts end, odds are that the Mets will breathe the same sighs of relief that they are now with Pedro leaving.
Not for the first time, Leitch’s take on the New York sporting scene seems utterly confused. The “trade” Will refers to was in fact, Martinez signing with the Mets as a free agent after fulfilling his contractual obligations to Boston. Of the “big-timers the Mets scooped up”, Johan Santana and Luis Castillo were each acquired via trades. And while Omar Minaya failed to land Barry Zito….are we to believe that was a bad thing?
Leitch is correct in stating there’s no worthwhile silverware in the Wilpon trophy cabinet to show for all their largesse, but signing Martinez was a viable way to show Beltran (just slightly better than “solid” during his Mets tenure, assuming you’ve actually seen him play), if not a depressed fanbase, the club was serious about contending (at least according to New York Magazine). There’s also the matter of the money-spinning SNY and the construction of Citi Field, neither of which might’ve come to fruition without Pedro’s arrival, but I’m willing to let that slide. Will’s done some amazing things in his time, but making Omar Minaya seem like a sympathetic figure in November of 2009 has to be on the top of the pile.