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Queens Chronicle

Joiner’s Journal

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Posted: Thursday, December 2, 2004 12:00 am

Cole Brothers has tigers. The Mets would have a man who said this offseason that he loves baseball so much that he would pitch, for free, “in a goat’s den.”

A goat’s den?

Pedro may not be one of the best three players in the game anymore, but he is the funniest. Laughs and smiles, though, don’t go hand in hand in baseball. Smiles and wins do.

The general consensus is that the Mets would be better off not signing Pedro because he has a likely shelf life of three years, maximum, and the Mets are unlikely to compete for a championship during those three years. It is a solid argument, but there is a counterargument.

It is not my counterargument, however. I’m calling in some reserves today.

Nate Silver is an author and statistician for Baseball Prospectus, the most influential independent baseball analysis company around. In simple terms, he’s wicked smart.

I know Nate because he lived next door to me in college. Since we graduated, he has developed the most widely read predictor of baseball performance in the world. It is the crux of his company’s biggest annual publication. He also has a weekly column online where he discusses baseball and where he, like his colleagues, challenges traditional notions of how organizations should run their teams.

On August 25th, he wrote a column that challenged even his peers. The column, “The Tiger Plan,” outlined how the Detroit Tigers had increased attendance significantly despite a losing record by signing well-known free agents, most notably Ivan Rodriguez. The Tigers were not title contenders, but they weren’t doormats either.

The result was an increase in attendance of over 8,000 people per game. Nate estimated that the Tigers stood to earn at least $15 million more last year than in 2003. More importantly, he concluded that “the idea that fans need to see a ‘meaningful’ baseball game in order to bother showing up at the park is incomplete at best…first and foremost, fans want to see a competitive baseball game that the home team has a reasonable chance at winning.”

Pedro Martinez makes the Mets competitive. He does not make them title contenders. Even now, every time he takes the mound his team should win. Pedro’s enormous skill, not to mention his Dominican roots, will keep Shea packed for as long as he stays healthy if he comes here. Sometimes, Nate suggests, you have to spend money to make money.

Personally, I would love to see Pedro on the Mets as much as I would love to see him stay on the Red Sox. It would be a tragedy if he joined the Yankees, not because it would be the same-old, same-old mega free agent signing, but because he and George Steinbrenner need to play off each other to be at their tabloid best. The straight-edge convicted felon versus the long-haired boy under the mango tree. They’re a perfect pair.

Pedro could lead the Mets back to respectability. It’s possible that he could be a colossal failure, too. The Mets are banking on the former, and if it doesn’t work out, management will be unfairly blamed for making the move. We don’t know what’s going on in Pedro’s head now (like we ever do), but at least we know Mets GM Omar Minaya isn’t afraid to be the goat.

Welcome to the discussion.