Omar Minaya wants the Mets to have more starting pitching depth than they had last year.  And if Minaya wants depth, he should re-sign Pedro Martinez and see if he can get over his first inning blues and recapture some of his past glory.

Depending upon how you feel about Tim Redding – and the health of the other pitchers on the staff – the Mets have four of their five starters for the season set.  The Mets have turned their attention to re-signing Oliver Perez or checking on the health of Ben Sheets.  I believe either of these pitchers would be a good investment for the team.

But I’d also like it if the Mets would bring back Pedro Martinez.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – he’s old, injury prone and not very good anymore.  And all of those things are true to varying degrees.  But the beauty of bringing back Martinez now is that it would be in a support role and not as one of the club’s top pitchers.

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Last year, the Mets enjoyed very good health from their starters and still had 11 different pitchers start a game for them.  No team over 162-game season has their top five or six guys make all of their starts.  And with Johan Santana and John Maine coming back from surgery and Mike Pelfrey coming off a career-high in innings pitched, it’s not likely the Mets will get 30-plus starts from each of them this year.

Okay, maybe you’re convinced that the Mets need depth in starting pitching but still are not convinced that Martinez is the guy to provide that.  After all, he had a 5.61 ERA and was just terrible in the first inning of a game, as he gave up seven home runs and 23 runs in the initial inning of his 20 games pitched.

But, if Martinez can still get guys out in innings two through six, isn’t that an indication that he still has what it takes to get major league hitters out?  Isn’t it likely that the first inning was either a fluke or some flaw that can be corrected?  After the first inning, Martinez had a 4.55 ERA last year.  Another thing to keep in mind is that Martinez had a .382 BABIP in the first inning last year.

Martinez has drawn minimal interest in the free agent market.  The Marlins and Pirates are the only two teams that have been linked publicly and Florida has already backed off.  Plus, Martinez himself as expressed his desire to return to the Mets.  While after the 2008 season ended it seemed unlikely that Martinez would come back on an incentive-heavy one-year deal, now that appears all he would get regardless of where he signs.

So, why not have that be in New York?

If Martinez has nothing left or gets injured again, Redding or Jon Niese or recently-acquired Casey Fossum can replace him in the rotation.  He’s basically a low-risk option at this point.  Throw him out there and if he performs well, great.  And if he stinks you move on with no hard feelings on either side.

But in 2009, Martinez will be further out from the rotator cuff surgery he had in 2007.  We all know about his tremendous wealth of knowledge on pitching.  I believe he still has the stuff to be a successful pitcher in the majors and I’d rather see him thrive with the Mets than to regain some of his past glory in another uniform.

And be honest, who would you rather see start a game – Pedro Martinez or Nelson Figueroa?

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