Updating my blog from the other day: People continue to ask me whether the Cubs' interest in Pedro Martinez is real. The answer is yes -- and then again -- no.
Watching right-handed pitcher Rich Harden struggle with his command has made the team's management group a little nervous as of late. Harden has given up 11 home runs already this season, matching his 2008 total with Oakland and the Cubs combined. If Harden continues to waver from start to start, the need for another starter or a bullpen pitcher will become more and more a reality.
The Cubs have had a scout in the Dominican Republic watch a couple of Pedro's workouts. The quality of the individual is almost as important to the team as his stuff. Martinez at his best now is a five-innings-and-fly guy. Throwing at 83 or 84 miles an hour with his variety of off-speed pitches might get Pedro by a majority of big league hitters for a couple of months.
One theory would have him go to the bullpen and set up or close if the back end of the Cubs' staff begins to falter in the dog days of the season. Martinez is smart enough to be able to reinvent himself as a reliever and outfox hitters for one or two innings. The young Latin American pitchers on the staff would benefit from having an outstanding person and a future Hall of Famer as a mentor. Martinez, if healthy, might be a linchpin for a contender like the Cubs in their second-half pursuit of a pennant.
At some point, someone in the Tribune ownership family will have to give general manager Jim Hendry a few more dollars to add a player like Martinez to the mix. The Red Sox and Yankees never stop adding players when injuries or bad performances affect the individual's effect on the team. The Cubs, in their marketplace, with their resources, should be no different.