PHILADELPHIA - As the Mets and Phillies slugged it out last night at Citizens Bank Park, with Johan Santana unable to protect a four-run lead and Jamie Moyer not generating much hope on the other side, one thought grew eminently clear:
Both teams will need some reinforcements.
The Phillies, who erupted for nine runs in the fourth to take an 11-5 lead, have the edge here, too. Joe Blanton (left oblique) will return to the starting rotation Monday night, and while J.A. Happ (left forearm) and Jimmy Rollins (right calf) aren't that close, they're good bets to return to action before Carlos Beltran (right knee) and Kelvim Escobar (right shoulder) do for the Mets.
So if the Mets really want to stay in the playoff conversation, they should strike the Phillies off the field, in the "expected reinforcements" department.
The Mets should reach out to Pedro Martinez.
You can cut Santana some slack, given that he essentially has clocked two bad innings - last night's fourth and the first-inning grand slam he surrendered to Washington's Josh Willingham on April 11 - for the season. Yet his lack of velocity remains a concern. And the fourth and fifth starters, 2007 favorites John Maine and Oliver Perez, remain anything but reliable.
The Mets' farm system is developing to a point where they could have trade chips available, should Seattle's Cliff Lee or another starting pitcher become available via trade. Yet Martinez would cost only money.
Now, the expectation throughout baseball is that Pedro will rejoin the Phillies at around the All-Star break, resuming his role as second-half gunslinger. Martinez and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. have been in regular communication, and the player and team greatly enjoyed working together last year.
Whereas it seemed that Martinez was absolutely cooked when he pitched for the 2008 Mets, the three-time Cy Young Award winner rewarded the Phillies' $2-million investment (plus another $550,000 in bonuses) with a solid 3.63 ERA in nine starts.
The Mets have no plans to go anywhere near Pedro. There's a sense on their end that too much water rests under that bridge. Pedro, for what it's worth, appears to have been hurt by the Mets' lack of interest a year ago. And who wouldn't have been turned off by some of the front-office shenanigans that Pedro witnessed during his four years at Shea Stadium?
These wounds can be healed with one face-to-face meeting between Pedro and upper management - perhaps even ownership - and one seven-figure commitment.
You know that Pedro loved his time in New York, the incompetence above him notwithstanding, and that he would relish playing the role of savior. Really, the notion of pitching half a season - following the precedent set by Roger Clemens in 2006 and 2007 - makes so much sense for the 38-year-old.
All the more reason why the Mets should try to reconcile with Pedro. They'd be strengthening their rotation - just move Perez to the bullpen, if everyone else is healthy and producing - and weakening the Phillies'.
Of course, if the Mets stumble out of contention the next few weeks, then you can consider this plea irrelevant. I don't think that'll happen, though. I think the Mets will hang in there.
And if they want to stay there, then they should call Pedro.