Now that it is official, I guess it is time to weigh in on whether or not this makes sense for the Phillies. My take: sure, why not?
As a professional budget analyst, I tend to look at everything as costs and benefits, so let us do that now for this signing. First the potential “costs,” or negatives, associated with this signing:
- The contract is a base of $1 million, with incentive clauses that could make it as high as $1.5 million. The $1 million is pretty much the cost we should look out for, though, because if they end up paying $1.5 million that would mean that Pedro hit all his incentive clauses, and that would mean it was a great signing.
- As long as this money doesn’t alter their shot at Halladay, which has been emphasized over and over again that it will not, who cares? They are making money hand-over-fist because of the 37 sellouts and the merchadise sales that came from the title. Granted, they probably assumed this increased income when they upped the payroll to $135 million in the offseason, but still, a million here or there should not affect this all-of-a-sudden big market club.
- Clubhouse morale
- I have heard this argument several times–that Pedro is not the type of guy who would fit into this hard-nosed, hard-working, quiet clubhouse because of his diva-ish personality. I do not buy this one AT ALL. Since when has a fifth-starter ever affected a clubhouse? You have to have some on-field presence to have any impact on a clubhouse, so I think this is a non-issue. Furthermore, if it seems like he is upsetting the morale, you cut him loose–no harm done, except a million bucks.
- Relief innings
- This is the one concern that I think is legitimate and ought to be taken into consideration. He is probably not going to pitch more than 5 or 6 innings (on a good day), so every time he goes out there, the bullpen is going to take a beating. And, as we have seen time and time again in this sport, exhausted bullpens often show up in September and October and they often sink entire seasons (see: ’08 Mets, ’07 Mets, ’93 Phillies).
- Then again, the 5-inning Pedro notion is based on last September after he had pitched for an entire season. Who knows if this Pedro is rested and ready to go 7 strong innings every fifth day? I am not saying I expect it or even that it wouldn’t shock me, all I’m saying is that it is a possibility.
So, the costs are rather small, if you think about it. What about the benefits?
- An experienced fifth-starter
- In June and July, and maybe even August, it is perfectly fine to run out the Rodrigo Lopez’s and Antonio Bastardo’s of the world for spot starts or even temporary spots in the rotation. But, when the games start to mean more than just random Major League Debuts, it is a very scary proposition to send these kids out there. In Turner Field in mid-September, I would much rather see an experienced pitcher at the end of his career than an inexperienced one and the beginning of his. If this signing has dividends, they will be realized in September and, dare I say it, October.
- Lightning in a bottle
- Who knows? Maybe Pedro has his old stuff back. He did look dominant in the WBC–albeit in relief appearances against The Netherlands. He is a former Cy Young winner who will probably be enshrined in Cooperstown one day. Maybe there is just enough left in the tank for 2 months (hell, even 2 starts) of shades of the old Pedro. It may be far-fetched, but there it has to be considered a possibility.
- His motivation
- Pedro, for all of his flaws, has never lacked confidence and, certainly, never lacked pride. In fact, I would argue that his over-developed sense of pride has actually been a detriment to him, at various points in his career. But, right now, I love it. I welcome it. Be prideful, Pedro. Show the other 29 teams that they are stupid for not signing you earlier. Give the Pedro fans one last thrill. But, specifically, and even more importantly…
- Stick it to the Mets. I have heard from various sources that Pedro was standing firm on his $5 million demand for every team out there…except the Phillies? Why? Because he is overcome with a desire to spurn the Mets for not resigning him. Is it rational? Of course not. It is possible? Of course it is–it is, after all, Pedro Martinez. Would it surprise anyone if this were true? Now, this, alone, is not going to get outs. Honestly, my hatred for the Mets is probably right on par with Pedro’s, but I’m not out there striking out David Wright. But, every little bit helps. And, if Pedro just needs a little extra to fire him up and get us three September wins, then it was all worth it.
So, all in all, I say: WHY NOT?