Well, it’s official. The Phillies have signed future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez to a reported $1 million contract with another $1.5 million in incentives.
The 37-year old was immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list and will head out on a rehab assignment dedicated to getting him into the Phillies rotation in early August.
“Petey” had been holding out for a $5 million pro-rated offer all season (and off-season) but wasn’t getting anything. Pedro opted to continue his rehabilitation and wait until a need opened up, which it did with the Phillies. The Phillies could certainly use some help, as they have the fifth-worst starters’ ERA in all of baseball at 4.98.
Pedro impressed viewers of the World Baseball Classic when he struck out six and walked none in six total innings for the Dominican Republic. He gave up just one walk, but his fastball velocity still wasn’t up to snuff. In a recent simulated game, his fastball hit 93 mph — probably not as fast as he can throw it consistently once he hits the bigs, but the fact he was able to goose it up to that speed was encouraging, given that he has not averaged higher than 90.7 on his fastball speed since 2002.
Is Pedro going to pitch to All-Star caliber status for the Phillies? Probably not. But can he help a pitching staff decimated by injuries and attrition? Absolutely. Pedro may not have much left in the tank, but he has enough to make a difference.
The National League has only known him as a 88-mph fastball pitcher who started a transition to a junkballer by increasingly relying on his slider, changeup and curveball. This won’t change in Philadelphia, but what might help Petey is the half-season off, a regimen first popularized by Roger Clemens. Aging pitchers are opting to use this concepts more and more recently: David Wells and Kenny Rogers expressed interest in the idea, but found no bites. John Smoltz just recently returned from an extended road from rehab (he says he could have opened the season in the bigs, but opted to wait).
If Pedro can keep batters honest by flashing a fastball consistently around 89-90, he can gain appropriate separation from his impeccable 75-77 mph changeup to get swings and misses.
Pedro also mentioned in his press conference with the Phillies that he was “too brave sometimes” in his last two years in a Mets uniform. Given the news that he’s flashing a fastball in the 91-93 mph range, plus the fact that he completely scrapped his slider the last two years, the evidence seems to back up Pedro’s contention of pitching hurt.