Best fit for Pedro, latest on Manny Derby and notes around majors
Pedro makes sense for the Dodgers for at least three big reasons
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A rejuvenated Pedro Martinez probably could help a lot of teams. But the best fit just might be the Dodgers, the organization that must still regret trading the future Hall of Famer 16 years ago.
Putting aside the nostalgic aspect of a Pedro reunion, Martinez makes sense for the Dodgers for at least three big reasons ...
1. The Dodgers need starting pitchers. Presumably, they'll land at least one solid, in-his-prime pitcher for their rotation after losing Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux and Brad Penny this winter, and that will probably be either Randy Wolf or Braden Looper. However, the Dodgers may need more than one pitcher after suffering so many losses. While they are hopeful that talented youngster Chad Billingsley will come back quickly after breaking his leg slipping on ice in his home state of Pennsylvania, Billingsley's injury is yet another issue for a young, talented team that has a number of them.
2. The Dodgers need someone like Martinez to tutor their staff. Maddux was that guy in recent seasons, and Martinez could ably fill that role. He is a sage and stable veteran.
3. Martinez could help if any Manny Ramirez issues come up (that's if Ramirez returns, of course). There were never any major problems with Manny in Boston when his buddies Martinez and Kevin Millar were there, and while there's no certainty Martinez could have saved Manny from himself last summer in Boston, he couldn't have hurt.
Martinez didn't jump at inquiries from the Indians or Pirates, as he's looking for the right place and right fit for him. By now, one of the greatest pitchers ever can afford to do that.
"At this stage of his career, he's waiting for the right opportunity," Martinez's longtime agent Fern Cuza said without addressing any of the offers rejected.
Martinez told the New York Post he'd love to return to the Mets, and it's no secret that Mets general manager Omar Minaya reciprocates that love. However, since Martinez made those comments to the Post, the Mets have signed Oliver Perez, Freddy Garcia and Tim Redding, lessening the need for another starter. Meanwhile, the Marlins, who'd be perfect as well, are telling folks they have no money for Pedro, a Miami resident, or anyone else.
The Dodgers have a few promising starters, led by talented left-hander Clayton Kershaw, but they need more. Wolf and Looper are the ones the Dodgers are discussing now, but one competitor says it seems like Wolf just isn't as anxious to go to the Dodgers are he was two years ago.
"We'd like to add at least one pitcher," Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said.
By late March, after Martinez can re-prove himself in the World Baseball Classic, the Dodgers might well consider a return for the pitcher who built his Hall of Fame career after they infamously traded him for second baseman Delino DeShields. Colletti has more pressing issues on his plate now, like Manny and the other starters, but in a phone conversation he didn't rule out a run at Pedro when the time is right.
Martinez was hampered last year by an early hamstring injury and hurt more than anyone knows by the death of his beloved father.
He is ready to start anew. Said Cuza, "He feels the best he's ever felt."
Manny happy returns?
The Dodgers' decision to actually lower their offer to superstar Manny Ramirez -- from $45 million over two years to $25 million for one year -- could look from afar like either 1) a billion-to-one shot, 2) an insult, or 3) an attempt to rally public support in hard economic times while simultaneously driving Manny away.
However, while it was undoubtedly a long shot that Ramirez would accept an offer that was worth only $5 million more than the original option figure that he had with Boston, and while Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is quite cost conscious, indications are that the Dodgers were merely looking for a solution in an increasingly rough market and are still trying hard to retain Ramirez following his quick rejection of that $25 million offer (he didn't even wait for the deadline to reject that one).
While the Dodgers aren't giving away their negotiating strategy, the belief is that they'd still be willing to talk about a two-year deal. But until there's evidence of a three-year deal elsewhere, the Dodgers would like to avoid going past two years. If they do get to three years, it will be a coup.
"Scott and I are continuing to talk a lot," Colletti said by phone, referring to Ramirez's agent Scott Boras. "We want Manny. We want to be able to bridge the two gaps [over dollars and years]. There's a lot of communicating. We probably both know each other's phone numbers by heart."
There's only 10 days to go before pitchers and catchers start reporting. "He's not a pitcher, and he's not a catcher," pointed out Colletti, who's well aware of the countdown to spring.
While the Dodgers have attached deadlines to specific offers, they aren't setting a drop-dead date on the negotiations.
"Not right now," Colletti said. "We'll play it out, and see what happens. We don't have a deadline right now. We're still patient, and we're still talking."
Meanwhile, Dodgers manager Joe Torre and third-base coach Larry Bowa are also chiming in on the subject. Both have spoken out publicly about their desire to re-sign Ramirez. The Dodgers were .500 when Ramirez was acquired at the trade deadline last summer, and thanks to Ramirez's heroics (following a shameful couple months in Boston), the Dodgers went all the way to the NLCS.
The Dodgers have weighed as backup plans Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn, with Torre said by associates to prefer the consistently productive Abreu, by far the better contact hitter (not to mention a player Torrre had in New York).
"We've talked to a handful of players this winter," Colletti said. "But we're focused on Manny for the time being, while keeping our options open if need be."
Sources tell SI.com Dunn received an offer weeks ago from the Nationals, but he must be hoping for the Dodgers or someone else, as he hasn't yet taken it. "He's showing no indication he wants to go," said one person familiar with their talks.