Revisiting an old interview with Pedro Martínez


I know this isn't exactly news, but Monday night MLB Network re-ran the Bob Costas interview with Pedro Martinez from (I think) roughly a year ago, and I was taken by this exchange when Costas asked Martínez about his contract negotiations after the 2004 season, which ultimately led to him leaving the Red Sox and signing a four-year deal with the Mets ...

Martínez: What I was offered was not completely fair, for the job that I had done for the Red Sox. I'm not going to go into details about the negotiations. But it wasn't fair, to me. It wasn't fair, and I wasn't going to take it.

Costas: To simplify things, they wound up offering three years, the Mets offered four years, and more money-

Martínez: No, that's not it.

Costas: That's not it?

Martínez: That's not true. They waited 'til the last three minutes. Three minutes, before making a commitment. And I gave them 15 days, and I told them, at the Dominican airport, "I have four years, and guaranteed money, if I want it." I remember Lucchino, "Oh, that's b.s." He goes, "That's b.s. You don't have that." They didn't believe me.

But I had also expressed to Boston that my best interest was in Boston, and that I wanted to stay. And that was obviously a mistake. Because they didn't feel like they had to do too much to get me to stay. You know, I was too honest ... and Lucchino acknowledges now that I was being honest ... I told them, "Hey, I got four years, guaranteed money and everything I want. All I want you guys is to give me three years, guarantee me that money-

Costas: You would have taken three years from the Red Sox.

Martínez: Yes.

To Costas's credit, he plays Devil's Advocate and suggests that the Red Sox had to be thinking about the future, and really couldn't pay Martínez for his past accomplishments. Which has always been my position.

Pedro Martínez is both intelligent and articulate, though, and he does make a good point about pitching a ton of innings in postseason games, essentially taking the ball whenever asked, even if that meant pitching out of turn. As he put it, "I sacrificed myself."

Where do you draw the line, though? Even if the Red Sox had bargained with Martínez as he believes they should have, and made a solid three-year offer in good faith, they still would have gotten just one good season; after going 15-8 in his first year with the Mets, he went just 12-9 with a 4.15 in 28 starts over the next two seasons. Essentially, the Red Sox would have been giving Martínez something like a $25 million gift. Or if you prefer, a $25 million reward for everything he'd done for them before.

That seems like a lot to me. But I'm not him. I do believe that Pedro Martínez's long association with the Red Sox will, for most of the rest of his live, pay dividends that can't really be quantified, but will be quite welcome.

I honestly can't recall if I wrote about this a year ago, but this was just a wonderful interview. When Costas asked him if he'd like to be wearing a Red Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, Martínez said yes, of course, but that he'd considered expressing a preference for an Expos cap until Gary Carter went in wearing one.

And later, when Costas asked him to name the worst manager he'd played for, Martínez didn't punt like most players would. Instead he named Joe Kerrigan, who helmed the Red Sox for 43 games at the end of the 2001 season. What, Costas asked, made Kerrigan a bad manager?

Didn't know the rules, didn't understand the game, didn't understand completely what to do, and how to handle a team.

Pedro also claimed the "diva" label was a bad wrap. I don't know about that. I do know I miss him, though.

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