Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Relevance Check

Massarotti and Andy Gresh were making a good point on the radio today: Why isn't anyone talking about the Red Sox trying to extend Victor Martinez? The homeboy's at the end of his contract this year and the team's plans of signing Joe Mauer have obviously become even more remote than the chances trading Gil Velazquez for Adrian Gonzalez like every Red Sox fan thinks is going to happen. At the catcher position, prospects have fallen off the board (Dusty Brown, Mark Wagner) or aren't ready (Luis Exposito). Captain K isn't going to regain a starting role, and I don't anticipate any serviceable catchers on next year's free agent market. So where is all the chatter about this?

Maybe it's because it's a foregone conclusion that the player will be back. Maybe because the Red Sox' fanbase, including their embarrassingly-subjective media, are having a collective wet dream about a trade with San Diego that makes no sense for either team. But they should probably get on this, because it would be a pretty darn good move.

Here's why. Let's talk about the numbers. Though like many catcher, he is better in the first half of the season, Martinez will probably put up the second-best (I know, I know) offensive numbers of all AL catchers. Maybe third if Matt Weiters really is the second coming. He had 57 extra-base hits and over 100 RBIs last year, and his career OPS+ for all those pretentious statheads is 122. Not bad for a catcher. What's even cooler is that most of those OBP points don't come from walks, but from hits. Yes, he sucks defensively. But his offensive prowess outweighs the defensive liability considerably, and would contribute more on the aggregate than probably any other catcher on the market. On a team with this many offensive midgets over the next two years, I'd prefer a catcher who can hit but can't throw anyone out. Hopefully the hyped-up pitching staff can keep opponents off base in the first place.

Now, let's talk about cost. Andy Gresh was in for Felger today on the radio, and he speaks as if there were always number-ones at the end of his series of exclamation points. But Gresh and Varisuckup Tony Massarotti estimated Martinez going for $18 million a year on the free agent market. Really? Yeah, I know that Mauer got $23 million, but he's 26. Martinez is 31 Venezuelan years old, and is not as good of a baseball player. Who the hell would pay that much for a 31-year-old catcher whose time at the position is limited? The Yankees? Doubt it. If you're cutting Johnny Damon loose, you're not going to have Jorge Posada and his half-marathon contract on the bench. I just don't see a market developing here. No more than 5/$70, and that's what the Red Sox should give him. Yes, $14 million when he's 37 is a lot of money. But that brings me to my next point:

Roster flexibility. Lowell, Varisuck, and Santa Claus are all leaving after 2010. Beckett might be either gone or pricey, but here's the idea. Put Martinez at catcher for 2011 and keep the Youkilis/Beltre corners for a year. Keep Martinez there until the rise of the Minor League Catcher to be Named Later. When Beltre's gone, sign Gonzalez for the free agent money without the prospect posting fee. Put him at first. And then DH Martinez for a better ROI on the contract. Doesn't look like a bad team for Year 1 A.D. (after Drew, of course).


Patrick said...

to respond to your razzing from yesterday regarding my writing about the 5th starter again after razzing you about writing about drew's ops and PED's too much, a few points:

- as i explained to you on the phone last night - and you agreed - the yankees' 5th starter spot has season/al east implications. just check out rotation performance compared to the previous season after a world series run. i'm not saying it will happen to the yankees - and i hope it won't - but the numbers are the numbers. they need rotation depth and therefore vazquez and the 5th starter become important. it's a relevant baseball discussion presently.

- i have not written remotely close to the number of posts about this topic as you have about other two said issues. in relation to how much it's covered down here, i've barely talked about it at all.

- i'm glad the yankees had a quiet winter and are having a quiet camp in terms of any controversy. that's the way you want it to be, and that's the way you hope it is after a world series. but that means less things to write about here. i'd prefer it that way, but i'm just saying it limits material.

Patrick said...

regarding your post, i think the red sox should re-sign martinez too, for many of the reasons you outlined. most importantly is his bat. if you sign him for 4-5 years and he can't catch the last 2 years of that, hopefully he can still hit at an elite level and can DH. however, i don't think it will approach $18 a year. not unless baseball returns to a marketplace similar to the mid 2000s. i would think 4-5 years in the $14-15 range should be enough. think somewhere between jorge posada and jason bay.

as for numbers among AL catchers, no doubt martinez could be second best, and no doubt weiters could supplant him. but let's not leave posada out of the equation. his 2009 season ops+ of 133 bettered martinez's 127, and was equal to the 133 martinez put up when he started going bananas in boston the second half. 22 homers for posada to 23 for martinez. certainly martinez had him in rbi, and certainly martinez is younger and has less of a chance of regressing, but i think posada has continued to play at a level that has to have him firmly in the conversation for 2010.

TimC said...

This is an absurd post because the defense-first Theo Administration will not sign a player who a) hits at an above-average level and b) does not provide value through an underestimated ability to play defense that only his complex formulas are capable of determining. Look for the Sox to sign a .225 catcher from the Japanese league next winter who has played exceptional defense throughout his entire career for a few yen.

Patrick said...

"This is an absurd post because the defense-first Theo Administration will not sign a player who a) hits at an above-average level and b) does not provide value through an underestimated ability to play defense that only his complex formulas are capable of determining."


jason said...

the sox have had varitek for awhile as a defensive liability so i am sure they can get along with martinez, who actually provides offense along with his defensive liability right?

Anonymous said...


Check out ESPN Boston. There's an article by Gordon Edes about JD Drew. You'll find the ending particularly interesting.

--the Gunn