Wednesday, December 1


It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.

1. Jose will be honest. The Mets’ offer to Sox ace Pedro Martinez has him worried…really, really worried. Jose is not particularly worried that Pedro will go to the Mets. He may well go to Queens, but that is not worrisome. If Pedro leaves for the Mets, it will make Jose sad, but not worried. (Note: Jose is getting paid today based on the number of times he uses the word “worry” or its derivatives.)

Pedro has been one of Jose’s favorite players since the moment he got here. He is a pitching genius, a joy to watch and apparently a genuinely nice human being. Still, in the game of baseball today, players move around, so there is no point in worrying about it. Jose would only genuinely worry about Pedro going to the Yankees, not because the Red Sox would face him regularly, but because then Jose would have to hate him, and Jose doesn’t want to hate Pedro Martinez. To Jose, watching Pedro pitch for the Yankees would be like watching Eliot Ness run scotch for Al Capone, Mick Jones jamming with Kenny G or Homer Simpson doing a guest spot on Joey. It is incongruous and too awful to even imagine. It would break Jose’s heart. (Note: In an uncharacteristically classy gesture, Jose did not compare it to Franklin Delano Roosevelt coming back to life and working to rebuild the Nazi Party. He thought that would be a bit much.) But it looks highly unlikely that Pedro will go to the Bronx, so nothing to worry about there.

No, what has Jose worried is the prospect that Pedro may stay. Jose had wanted the Red Sox to resign Pedro despite the fact that 2004 was his worst year in the majors, but then the Mets had to go and make him an offer. Jose’s worry is based on what the Mets’ offer says about Pedro. It is a baseball truism that the Mets only go after players whose best days are well behind them, Mo Vaughn, Cliff Floyd, Tom Glavine etc. (Note: Jose would not be surprised to hear that the Mets are preparing offers to Johnny Bench, Al Kaline and Cap Anson as we speak.) Therefore, if the Mets are offering Pedro a three-year deal, he must be approaching a frightening downturn.

Now, some may argue that the Mets’ long history of courting over-the-hill players is not evidence that Pedro is finished since the Mets have a new general manager. But teams have personalities and traditions and tendencies that transcend general managers. For instance, the Astros only go after guys whose last name begins with the letter “B” like Carlos Beltran, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Jeff Bkent. The Rockies only go after guys whose power numbers are way down and are too cheap to buy steroids so they need to get their artificial power boost from Coors Field. And the Yankees? The Yankees only go after players who hate America and hate freedom and aren’t too cheap to buy steroids. See, tendencies.

So wherever he goes, the evidence is that Pedro will no longer be Pedro. Jose want to be wrong, but boy is he worried.

2. This idea is probably null and void now that backup catcher Doug Mirabelli has signed a two-year, $3 million dollar deal, but Jose is going to float it anyway.

From time to time Mirabelli and Sox starter Jason Varitek have claimed that they are the best catching tandem in the league and should market themselves as a package. Jose thinks this is a great idea. Instead of signing each player individually the Sox should offer them a job sharing deal. You know job sharing, like with young mothers. Since neither woman wants to work full time, the two share a single job, one works tow days and the other three, or as former fringe congressional candidate Phil Hyde might call it “timesizing not downsizing.”

So here is Jose’s idea. The Red Sox offer a four-year $40 million deal to Varitek and Mirabelli combined with the stipulation that the $10 million per year is paid out on the percentage of outs caught. For instance if Varitek catches 80% of the games, he gets $8 million and Mirabelli gets $2 million. And you know what the best part is? If it’s only one job, they only take won roster spot.

Wait…that’s not true? Well that’s bullsh*t. Leave it to Major League Baseball to screw over working mothers.

3. Jose is absolutely ecstatic about the news that the Sox are aggressively pursuing a trade for Arizona lefty Randy Johnson. While many have suggested that Johnson would be a replacement for Pedro Martinez, Jose thinks that Johnson would really be a replacement for Derek Lowe.

Let’s be honest, with Lowe’s departure, the Red Sox desperately need to get taller in order to bolster their sagging rebounding, and at 6’10’’ Johnson would be an upgrade on the 6’ 6’’ Lowe. Pedro is great, but at 5’ 11’’, the guy is simply never going to have an impact on the glass, he’s more of a sparkplug guy.

On a slightly different note, if Johnson is acquired in return for Balki Arroyo, among others, will the Big Unit be expected to fill in for Balki on the next Dropkick Murphy’s single? What would Johnson play anyway? Jose guesses trombone. With those freakishly long arms, reaching seventh position would be a snap.

Also, what about Cousin Larry Appleton? Would he move to Arizona too?

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.

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