Skipper: Yankees could use another starter

DALLAS -- New York Yankees manager Joe Torre would love to have Pedro Martinez in his rotation -- just like he'd love to have any great starting pitcher.

"Pedro's one of the elite pitchers in baseball," Torre said Thursday before a lecture sponsored by SMU. "As a manager, you want all the toys on the shelf, there's no question."

Adding Martinez would be different, though, because he's more than just a staff ace. He also just helped the rival Boston Red Sox win the World Series. And in September, he called the Yankees his "daddy" because of their success against him.

Last year, he shoved then-Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground during a playoff brawl between the teams.

Now a free agent, Martinez and his agents met Tuesday with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and several other team officials at the club's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.

"I don't know what's going to come of it," Torre said. "Having George meet with him -- he doesn't meet with people just for the sake of meeting them. He's certainly thinking in terms of helping our ballclub."

Martinez -- who met with the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., the following day -- was 117-37 for Boston from 1998 to 2004, winning the AL Cy Young Award in 1999 and 2000. After beating St. Louis in Game 3 of the World Series, he acknowledged it could have been his final appearance for Boston.

The Red Sox have 16 free agents in all, including catcher Jason Varitek, shortstop Orlando Cabrera and pitcher Derek Lowe. The Red Sox have balked at Varitek's request for a $55 million, five-year deal with a no-trade clause and are said to have offered Oakland's Damian Miller a two-year contract.

On Thursday, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein was expected to meet with free agent Carl Pavano at ace Curt Schilling's house. Red Sox spokesman Glenn Geffner said the team would not comment on free-agent negotiations.

The Red Sox beat the Yankees for the AL pennant, overcoming an 0-3 deficit to win the seven-game series, which Torre acknowledged could lead to changes this offseason.

"We won 101 games during the course of the season, we won three of four from Minnesota, we beat Boston the first three games and we were on the threshold of beating them four straight," he said. "(But) you're dealing with New York, and the only thing they look at is the bottom line, and we lost to Boston, so something must be wrong. I don't think we need anything drastic to happen to be in the same situation."

Torre said the Yankees could use another starter.

"Starting pitching has been probably an area this year where we really haven't had a lot of depth," Torre said. "In the nine years I've been here, this has probably been, I'm not going to say the weakest, but the thinnest staff, of what's usually our strength."