With the Astros signing Ivan Rodriguez this morning, it appears as though GM Ed Wade believes that the group he has assembled could be good enough to compete. Wade would not have made a push for the future hall of famer if he did not believe that this team was good enough to make some noise in the National League. However, as we talked about earlier today, the reality is that the Astros probably will not compete because their starting pitching stinks outside of Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez.
Usually in March, there is not much available on the free agent market as far as quality major league starting pitchers are concerned. However, several aging big name starting pitchers are still unsigned. The most recognizable of which is Pedro Martinez.
Martinez struggled big time with the Mets last season and looked like a shell of his former self. Pedro could no longer strike out hitters or even rely on his smarts and baseball instincts to get hitters out. His 5.60 ERA does not come close to underscoring just how much Pedro struggled in 2008. Bottom line, Pedro's performance was ugly.
Pedro has made it known that he wants to play in 2009. He still believes that he can be an effective starting pitcher. Two quality performances by Martinez against the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic might signify that yes, Pedro Martinez can still be an effective pitcher. I think Pedro showed enough in the tournament to at least turn some heads amongst baseball executives.
Pedro may be nothing more than a fifth starter these days, but I still think the Astros should make a push for him. Pedro is a welcome addition to any clubhouse and quite honestly, he would be a better option than Russ Ortiz even at his diminished state. And who knows, Pedro would probably help fill the seats in the Juice Box because trust me folks, Pedro still carries a buzz. People want to see this guy pitch.
And who knows, maybe Pedro will discover the fountain of youth an put together a big season. There is always the hope that Pedro can put it all together once again because well, he has done it so many times before. Maybe Pedro can be an effective third or fourth starter for the Astros if all goes well and he stays healthy...I would take my chances on Pedro over Brian Moehler anyday.
This makes logistical sense for Pedro as well. He has stated that he wants a major league contract and the Astros are probably one of the only teams willing to give that to him. A one year deal with lots of incentives would mitigate any risk for the Astros in this deal and keep Pedro very motivated. The Astros have no starting pitching depth and it would be worth it for the Astros, both economically and baseball wise, to bring Pedro aboard for 2009.
I can tell you this much, Pedro would be much more exciting to watch for Astros fans than Brandon Backe.