The Pedro Martinez saga, if it’s worth calling a saga, reveals a whole host of issues. I think I should put a few things on the record, as both a Sox fan and a Pedro-lover. So here goes:
1. Pedro is an artist. He may be in decline, and all circumstantial evidence shows that to be the truth. Nonetheless, Pedro is still a master and one of the few people I would show up to see, regardless of the team surrounding him and regardless of the competition. He is, in my mind, the best pitcher of the last 20 years (to take nothing away from the Rocket, Maddux, et. al).
2. Pedro was a free agent. He earned the right to go anywhere he felt. He had every right to play off one team against another, to get the most money, to do what he wanted. That was the reward for performing like he has, for being in the league for as long he has been, and for being a member of the Player’s Association. His past riches gained don’t preclude him from getting top dollar for his services, and us fans shouldn’t expect him, or any other player, for that matter, to take less as a "hometown discount" (I hate that term, by the way).
3. Pedro is an egomaniac. It’s part of why he is so great (the other part has to do with a freakish body, shoulder, arm, and long fingers, and a unique ability to coordinate those parts). Let’s not underestimate the importance of egomania in contributing to the performance of great athletes.
4. Pedro was leaving, probably. The Red Sox had to see this coming. Their front office has proven to be at least semi-competent, and they had to know that there was a good chance that Pedro was leaving, no matter what they offered. There’s always the Mets and their inferiority complex lurking out there, right? Any hand-wringing about how there’s a RSN that feels victimization that Pedro left the Sox holding the bag (see Harvey Araton in the Times today) is ridiculous – if this is the case, it’s only the case with a handful of fans; we had to steel ourselves for this possibility, and I imagine JWH, Theo, Larry, et. al did the same.
5. Pedro is not a liar – I’ll retract my earlier statement. He is, as Bob Ryan says today in an excellent reality-check column in the Boston Globe, a mercenary. I never should have held Pedro to his "respect" line – clearly "respect" means money, and I was naive to read more into that.
6. The Red Sox will be fine. The loss of Pedro is significant, but what team wins the World Series with their December 15th roster? Remember what people were predicting when A-Rod made the leap to the Yankees. The Sox’ front office isn’t done working (and they do have lots of work to do), and we should expect that the pitchers and catchers on the 40-man roster today will be different from those that show up in Florida and will be different from those who are on the team at the ASB and are different from those who will be playing after call-ups on September 1st. There’s a long way to go.
7. Most importantly, we should all remember, at least those of us in RSN, that Pedro threw the 7 prime years of his career in a Sox uniform, that he threw some of the most memorable games, and was involved in some of the most memorable moments in our team’s history. And he left a champion and left us a championship. For that, at the very least, he earned this move. Good luck to him, and heartfelt thanks.