November 17, 2004

When Pedro Met George. When I heard that Pedro Martinez and George Steinbrenner met in Tampa yesterday, I got a queasy feeling in my stomach. I know a large reason for the meeting is to squeeze the Red Sox and I honestly cannot see Martinez ever wearing pinstripes, but just the mere idea of a meeting seems wrong.

The Boston and New York papers are all over it, of course, but there is little consistency in the key parts of reporting. Some say Pedro asked for the meeting, some say Steinbrenner did. Some say Pedro told Steinbrenner he really wants to be a Yankee, others say it is merely a negotiating ploy acted out in front of the Red Sox. What remains true is that anything the Yankees do with Pedro will be because of Steinbrenner. Most people in the Yankees front office want little to do with Martinez. In fact, Steinbrenner didn't even let GM Brian Cashman know about the meeting beforehand.

So there isn't much to discuss at this point. The meeting happened. I want Pedro to stay in Boston. And I believe he will stay in Boston. ... I didn't look everywhere today, but here's some press:

From Boston:

Globe: "Nineteen days after he issued an informal promise to never sign with the New York Yankees, Pedro Martinez yesterday listened as George Steinbrenner tried to persuade him otherwise. ... 'We had a good meeting, Steinbrenner said, without elaborating. ... Several other teams are expected to court Martinez, including the Angels and Cardinals."

Herald: "It is believed that the afternoon meeting, which wasn't the first between Martinez and a Yankees official this offseason, was arranged by [Pedro's agent Fernando] Cuza, but Steinbrenner was a more-than-willing participant. There was no indication, however, that salary figures were discussed. ... A source close to Martinez said last night, however, that the Yankees' interest was 'very, very genuine.' ... A Martinez departure wouldn't lead to mourning on Yawkey Way. Many in the organization have been fed up by his late arrivals, a frequent diva attitude, mood swings and his thin skin when it comes to dealing with criticism."

From New York:

Newsday: "The two sides didn't conduct serious negotiations, according to multiple sources, instead treating the day as a 'Get to know you' session. The Yankees' first pitching target, the sources said, is still Arizona's Randy Johnson. ... Martinez told The Boss how much he wanted to be a Yankee, according to one source ..."

Newsday (again): "Eventually, all children looking for a bigger allowance are told to ask their daddy. So it comes as no surprise to learn that Pedro Martinez, a free agent looking to score, is suddenly the biggest George Steinbrenner and Yankees fan on earth. The Boss met with Pedro for a late lunch yesterday, and they immediately struck a deal. Both agreed: Let's make this as public as possible. It would serve them right, since they share the same goal: to squeeze the Red Sox."

Post: "Don't do this, George. ... Whenever those titillating images of Pedro Martinez in pinstripes start filling your imagination, open your eyes. Shake away the madness. ... His act wouldn't work here, George. Those jags he goes on when he won't speak to the press, when he won't come to the ballpark on time, when he leaves the stadium early ... all that stuff was tolerated in Boston. That's who the Red Sox are."

Daily News: "[F]or now anyway, it sounds as if Steinbrenner isn't ready to throw money at Pedro and make him a Yankee. People close to the situation say he's obsessed with getting Randy Johnson, and granted Pedro an audience yesterday only because the Red Sox righthander requested one with him. ... People who know Pedro believe he is really just trying to jack up his price with the Red Sox by meeting with the Yankees. ... [T]he fact [is] that Yankee players hate him, no matter what Jorge Posada was saying last week ... No matter what he says publicly, Terry Francona has told people close to him that he can't stand Pedro, and is hoping he does take his shenanigans elsewhere so the Sox manager can begin to restore some order in the clubhouse."

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