Who do YOU choose?
I posted this question on My Summer Family's facebook fan page (join here!) about who Mets would rather have. Of course, this is strictly hypothetical, but I got to thinking that if these two pitchers are on the market...who would you rather have on the Mets? John Smoltz or Pedro Martinez?
I know who I would choose (I'll get to that in a minute) but what I wasn't expecting was the emotional responses the question would elicit. The vote was at a dead-heat (with a jokester suggesting "Mike Hampton" in lieu of Smoltz or Pedro, heh heh). But the power in the reasoning behind the choices really surprised me.
Some said Smoltz, because he was a "class act," more "durable" and "right now" it would be Smoltz. Some of the others just chose Pedro for "Pedro," some were more emotional in their responses, saying that Smoltz represented an "Evil Team from Another Era."
What was interesting to me was that no one distinctly said they would choose Pedro because of his skills, his durability or because he was perceived as "better" than Smoltzie. Mostly, the fans (judging by what they wrote in a tiny comment on a Facebook page) were choosing Pedro for nostalgia reasons, for the swagger he brought in 2005, and because he wasn't tainted with the Brave ick. Nothing, however, on performance and durability issues between the two, which was really what I was looking for.
For me, the answer is simple (unfortunately). It was clear, from this piece here in 2008, that I was through with Pedro for a while. He looked "good" (according to many fans) in the postseason last year, but keep in mind a few things. He didn't pitch the whole season, starting his first game in AUGUST for pete's sakes. He was pitching for a 1st place team, so there was less pressure to perform (plus HE HADN'T BEEN PITCHING IN PRESSURE SITUATIONS ALL YEAR), but they could rely on the bullpen to come in to clean up once he was out.
If you point to his postseason performance, keep in mind once he got to pitch in New York, he was still calling the Yankees his "daddy," but when he did perform well, it was in optimal weather conditions (in Los Angeles, a place he used to pitch at regularly), and the Phillies didn't even win the game he started anyway.
Smoltz to me is the obvious answer. Just remember: strictly hypothetical, I am not endorsing Smoltzie coming to the Mets EVER, but if we had to choose between the lesser of two evils, he is clearly the less evil of the two. The Mets need depth in the rotation, and he can spot-start, but also pitch out of the 'pen, which clearly is something the Mets also need. He has also proven he is durable, and to limit damage to his previously injured shoulder, he could be relegated to 'pen duty, and he won't whine about it like certain other pitchers on the team (Looking at you, John Maine).
Smoltz is also a class-act, with how he handles himself on and off the field, and could be a mentor to the young pitching staff. Please don't get started on how "Well, Pedro could do that too." It's hard to be a mentor when you get a contract mid-season, go on the DL, then pitch to look brilliant on a 1st place team when you didn't contribute an ounce to that previous success. Let's not kid ourselves: Pedro Martinez was not like the rug in the "Big Lebowski." He hardly tied the Phillies together.
And so what that Smoltz was a Brave? I never got that rivalry, Mets vs Braves. Geographically, it never made sense to me, but yes they always won when it counted and the Mets were limited to being bumbling idiots at Turner Field for well over a decade. So what? How many years did we look at their pitching staff, look at players and say -- dang, wish they were on our side?
Not that Smoltz is a shadow of his former self but he can still bring it and has an amazing work ethic, more than I could say Prima Donna Petey who, back before he got hurt in 2008, I saw him showing up late to practice, goofing off during open workouts, but given a dispensation because "Hey, it's Pedro." Given that the team dynamic was a little messed up then, I found it massively inappropriate that he wasn't taking things seriously. Then of course, I wasn't surprised when he injured himself his very first regular season game that year. I just don't see the value he can bring, besides swagga'.
I am no Smoltz fan girl, but I would have to vote for Smoltz right now. Not always. But gun-to-back, I'd have to say he'd be my choice.