By Mike Steffanos
By now, you've already heard that Pedro Martinez has told the Associated Press that he would consider retiring if his shoulder does not return to full strength. Needless to say this is being treated as a major news story, given the hold that Pedro has on Mets fans and around the league. When you think about it though, there is nothing really earth-shattering here. There is no telling how well any pitcher can bounce back from shoulder surgery, much less a smallish 35-year-old.
If you read the actual quote, it wasn't really pessimistic as much as realistic:
It's getting better and progress is above all what is hoped for. To go back I have to recover. I have to be healthy. But if God doesn't want that, then I would have to think about giving it all up.
Pedro is also well aware that he has a long, painful and difficult rehab in front of him:
It's going to be a bitter winter because I am going to have to do a lot of work. The pain I feel was one of the worst I have felt with any injury in my career.
There really isn't much doubt that Pedro can pitch again. With modern medical techniques, I have no doubt that at some point late next spring Pedro will be able to take the mound and begin to throw pitches again. What is a complete mystery to Pedro, me and anyone else is how well he can pitch. Pedro has proved that he can pitch effectively without the velocity required by mere mortal pitchers, but he needs to have something to build on. He needs enough velocity and movement on his fastball to effectively set up his other pitches. He's not going to come back and impair his legacy by trying to hang on for a couple of years as a below-average major league starter.
I won't count Pedro out, but I've said all along that any plans the Mets make for next year should not take Pedro into account at all. There really is no way of telling what he might be able to do. I always try to maintain an optimistic viewpoint in this space because I get tired of how often the extreme negative approach is taken by the media just to pull in a few more eyes. That doesn't mean that I force myself to wear rose-colored glasses.
I mentioned a couple of days ago why I thought that the Mets would aggressively pursue at least one solid veteran pitcher through free agency or via a trade. I love the Mets up-and-coming young pitchers as much as anyone, but I also understand what Omar has to think about in preparing for next year. I love both Pelfrey and Humber for the future, but feel the absolute best-case scenario would be for both to come along slowly next season. In any case, when you read something over the next few days full of doom and gloom about Pedro Martinez, ignore it. Omar and company are already deeply into plans that take into account the very real possibility Pedro may not successfully return from shoulder surgery. They are looking at the top guys like Zito and Matsuzaka, and the outside-of-the-box guys like Mark Mulder. We'll be fine.
Faith and Fear in Flushing: Season Recap
This is from Thursday, so you most likely have seen it. If not, don't miss the first half of Greg's terrific season recap.
Daily News: John Maine
Adam Rubin has a nice feature on the young pitcher who is currently part of that Japanese tour. I especially love this quote from Maine on next season:
I'd like to think I put myself in a situation where they'd have to think long and hard to say, "No, we don't want this guy." I've still got to work hard this offseason. I'm not taking anything for granted. My goal now is just to make the team out of spring training in any capacity - whether it's reliever or starter. They're going to need another top-tier guy. But hopefully I can fill out the back end of the rotation. That's fine.
I actually believe Maine has middle-of-the-rotation potential. For him it's going to be all about developing a consistent delivery and improving his secondary pitches. He's already made nice progress in both areas this season, and seems to have a great attitude that will serve him well in the future. He's an easy kid to root for.
Mets.com: Beltran earns a Gold Glove
As Bryan Hoch reports, the Mets centerfielder has earned his first career Gold Glove award.
Eric Justic updates us on the dynamic Fernando Martinez and the other Mets prospects playing fall baseball.
NY Post: D-Mat
Yes, he already has a catchy knickname, and as Mark Hale reports, the Mets will put in a bid for the Japanese right-hander and his legendary (and perhaps mythological) gyro ball.
Crosstown Rivals: Or not...
Schuyla' is less than thrilled with the prospect of the Mets landing the aforementioned D-Mat.