• How Much Longer With Russell Martin?

    Posted by on July 7th, 2012 · Comments (19)

    Via Joel Sherman -

    Russell Martin homered twice on June 10, finishing off a sweep of the Mets with a leadoff, game-ending blast in the ninth inning.

    That was four weeks, one humongous slump and — perhaps — many, many, many millions of dollars ago for the looming free agent.

    After that game, Martin actually proclaimed, “I am starting to feel dangerous at the plate.”

    He said he believed he had mended a glitch that had made him susceptible to being jammed. The two homers against the Mets gave him five homers, 11 RBIs and 1.092 OPS in his last 17 games. His overall .216 average did not look impressive, but was his season high.

    And then Martin began to hit like a pitcher — a particularly bad-hitting pitcher.

    Friday night, as the Yankees generated 14 hits in a 10-8 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Martin again had none. His 0-for-3 extended his hitless streak to 30 at-bats — the longest by a Yankees since Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi both had 0-for-32 stretches in 2004. Overall, Martin is in a 4-for-57 slump.

    His season average is down to .176 in 240 plate appearances. The worst average by a Yankee who came to the plate at least 450 times was the .193 of Jerry Kenney in 1970.

    In other words, Martin is in danger of making history, and not the kind any player wants to make — especially in his walk year.

    Martin turned down a Yankees overture in the offseason believed to be in the three-year, $24 million range and bet on himself.

    Now he has the second half to better cash in on that bet. There is a dearth of quality catching available and teams will appreciate many things about Martin: 1) How athletic he is behind the plate. 2) His reputation for really putting in the prep time to work well with pitchers. 3) That he doesn’t turn 30 until February.

    Nevertheless, it is going to be hard for Martin to even replicate the $24 million if he cannot get over the Mendoza Line, if he cannot rebound to hit for impact with more consistency in the second half of the season.

    “I really don’t think about that,” Martin said of his free agency. “I really am trying to concentrate on winning as many games as possible.”

    Still, Joe Girardi is concerned human nature being human nature, Martin will look up each at-bat, see his average on the scoreboard and overreact.

    “I worry about him trying to make up for what happened in the first 81 games,” the Yankees manager said.

    I don’t get the Martin thing – at all. On any other contending big league team, if you had a 29-year old catcher in the walk year of his contract who was batting .176 in 240 plate appearances, he would be benched, demoted, or cut.

    Why the Yankees continue to run Martin out there is beyond me…except for the fact that there’s no one in the organization to take his place that would be an upgrade. And, the General Manager has to be blamed for that fact. Then again, it was the Yankees G.M. who was comparing Martin to the late, great, Thurman Munson before the start of this season. Yikes.

    And, let’s not forget that Martin hit .225 from May 2nd through the end of the season last year (in 391 PA). So, it’s not like you needed to be a genius to figure out that he has a hole in his bat.

    If you’re the Cubs or Padres this year and you want to play a guy at catcher who bats like a bad-hitting pitcher, that’s fine. But, when you’re the Yankees, this is unacceptable.

    Comments on How Much Longer With Russell Martin?

    1. 77yankees
      July 7th, 2012 | 1:28 pm

      Who do you go with then behind the plate? Austin Romine is still not ready with his back issues – neither is Gary Sanchez.

      Do you really want to break the bank with Mike Napoli after this season as a FA?

    2. hallofamer2000
      July 7th, 2012 | 3:30 pm

      I’m sure they are looking around. The unfortunate truth is that they have no in-house options.

      Cervelli is OPS’ing .662 in Triple-A, which is only .025 higher than Martin, in an inferior league. Cervelli’s June OPS was .625. Gustavo Molina is the only other catcher they have and he is Gustavo Molina.

      Unfortunately, Romine has been injured this year.

      Who would be available and an upgrade, and not overly pricey? http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/sortable.jsp?c_id=mlb&tcid=mm_mlb_stats#elem=%5Bobject+Object%5D&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+hitting&sectionType=sp&statType=hitting&page=1&ts=1341689288329&position='2'&playerType=ALL&sortColumn=ab&sortOrder='desc'&extended=0

    3. hallofamer2000
      July 7th, 2012 | 3:32 pm

      David Ross?

    4. hallofamer2000
      July 7th, 2012 | 3:44 pm

      (Sorry for the multiple comments)

      Maybe the best move would be to make Martin go on the DL for his back injury. I’m sure that is having at least SOME impact on his play. Plus I’m sure the time off would help him mentally.

    5. Raf
      July 7th, 2012 | 4:31 pm

      If they wanted to replace Martin, they would. They can make a trade or they can call up Cervelli or whatever.

      Hysterics aside, this really isn’t a big deal. The team is in 1st place with the best record in MLB, I’m sure Cashman will figure something out ;)

    6. LMJ229
      July 7th, 2012 | 11:48 pm

      Why not just go with Stewart and make Martin the back-up? Stewart is just as good defensively and he’s hitting nearly 100 points higher than Martin. I just don’t get it.

    7. redbug
      July 8th, 2012 | 7:17 am

      @ LMJ229:

      I agree. Even if it’s a couple of weeks to see if Stewart can do better. If not, martin has had time to rest his body and mind.

    8. July 8th, 2012 | 11:56 am

      Cashman dodged a bullet on this guy, second offseason in a row he has been saved from his blundering. Remember going into the 2011 season he was against signing Soriano. Martin’s 2011 season was a bit of a mirage, take his first month in a new league, and three big games against second tier teams in August out of the equation, and you’re left wondering what Cashman was thinking.

    9. MJ Recanati
      July 9th, 2012 | 9:17 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      Why not just go with Stewart and make Martin the back-up? Stewart is just as good defensively and he’s hitting nearly 100 points higher than Martin. I just don’t get it.

      Stewart isn’t cut out to be a starter. Martin is underperforming badly thus far but starting the backup five times a week isn’t the answer.

    10. MJ Recanati
      July 9th, 2012 | 9:19 am

      Joseph Maloney wrote:

      second offseason in a row he has been saved from his blundering. Remember going into the 2011 season he was against signing Soriano.

      So you’re suggesting that signing Soriano was a good move and that the higher-ups “saved” Cashman from “blundering” by agreeing to pay a one-inning reliever for mediocre work? Interesting theory.

    11. LMJ229
      July 9th, 2012 | 4:41 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:
      Stewart isn’t cut out to be a starter. Martin is underperforming badly thus far but starting the backup five times a week isn’t the answer.

      It might not be the answer but what other options are there?

    12. MJ Recanati
      July 9th, 2012 | 4:46 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      It might not be the answer but what other options are there?

      None on the current roster/minor league roster other than Frankie Cervelli who, like Stewart, is not cut out for full-time duty. A trade may present itself, however, as it did in 2008 when the Yanks acquired Pudge Rodriguez for nothing special (Kyle Farnsworth).

      Alternatively you can look at it this way: as long as Martin’s defense is good (which, admittedly, it hasn’t been this past week with three costly throwing errors), his wet noodle of a bat isn’t hurting the team one iota.

      The Yankees are in a good place if their fans’ chief complaint is getting no offense from their 8- or 9-hole hitter.

    13. G.I. Joey
      July 9th, 2012 | 4:51 pm

      Russell Martin should be hounding K Long for more time in his bat lab to straighten him out. I think Martin prematurely thought he figured it all out during the Mets series by backing off the plate more than he normally does so he can get the fat part of the bat through the inner third of the plate.

    14. MJ Recanati
      July 9th, 2012 | 5:06 pm

      The weird thing with Martin is that, although his K% is up, his BB% is up too and his swing percentages (both in and out of the zone) are both much lower.

      Seems like he’s actually too timid/selective at the dish and, what he’s making contact with, he’s either hitting right at fielders (bad luck) or making weak contact on.

      Martin BABIP/xBABIP (2012): .193/~.320

      Looks like Martin is suffering from some horrendous luck, coupled with timidity at the plate. It may be counterintuitve for the remedy to be more aggressive when in a horrible slump but it just might help a bit.

    15. Raf
      July 9th, 2012 | 5:49 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      So you’re suggesting that signing Soriano was a good move and that the higher-ups “saved” Cashman from “blundering” by agreeing to pay a one-inning reliever for mediocre work? Interesting theory.

      To be fair, I believe he advocated the signing because he was afraid that Mo was going to be done (or something like that)

    16. July 9th, 2012 | 7:14 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:

      Where would the Yankee season be without Soriano? How could Cashman be expected to know that something might go wrong with a 41 year old closer (2011)? We were in no man’s land with Mo, how many closers were still effective at his age? The team makes money hand over fist this was an insurance policy.

    17. MJ Recanati
      July 10th, 2012 | 8:45 am

      Joseph Maloney wrote:

      Where would the Yankee season be without Soriano?

      It would be in the same place as it is now, with some other person occupying the 9th inning role. The “who” is unimportant.

      Joseph Maloney wrote:

      We were in no man’s land with Mo, how many closers were still effective at his age?

      That’s besides the point. Look around baseball and ask yourself how many teams have gotten good return on investment on relievers paid eight-figure salaries. The answer is really quite simple.

      Joseph Maloney wrote:

      The team makes money hand over fist this was an insurance policy.

      An expensive one at that. The Yankees could’ve “insured” against losing Rivera with a cheaper alternative. In fact, they had several internal options at the time the higher-ups chose to overrule Cashman.

    18. MJ Recanati
      July 10th, 2012 | 8:46 am

      Raf wrote:

      To be fair, I believe he advocated the signing because he was afraid that Mo was going to be done (or something like that)

      Certainl. I haven’t accused Joseph Maloney of being inconsistent, merely of being illogical as it pertains to this topic.

    19. MJ Recanati
      July 10th, 2012 | 8:46 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Certainl.

      *Certainly.

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