• Martin: Letting Me Go Was An Expensive Mistake

    Posted by on March 17th, 2014 · Comments (9)

    Via Dan Martin

    The Yankees’ offseason spending spree caught the attention of just about everyone in baseball — including Russell Martin.

    The catcher was among the first casualties of ownership’s desire to avoid paying the luxury tax this season and keep the 2014 payroll under $189 million.

    That led to the Yankees being in the unusual situation of being outbid by the Pirates. After landing in Pittsburgh on a two-year deal worth $17 million prior to last season, Martin saw the Yankees ink Brian McCann this winter to finally replace him behind the plate for five years and $85 million.

    “It becomes an expensive mistake, no question,” Martin told The Post before the Pirates-Yankees game at McKechnie Field was canceled by rain on Monday. “They can’t turn back the clock. They went and got a good guy who, offensively, puts up better numbers than I have and so costs a lot of money. I love McCann. They got a good one.”

    McCann’s numbers slipped last year, but the Yankees are confident his left-handed swing will fit perfectly at Yankee Stadium. The 30-year-old catcher had an OPS of .796 with Atlanta a year ago, while Martin finished at .703.

    And while Martin, 31, says he doesn’t dwell on his departure from the Yankees, he can’t help but think of what might have been.

    “Personally, I thought it was a mistake,” Martin said. “There are no hard feelings. I definitely didn’t feel like it was in the general manager’s hands at that point. I always believed [Brian] Cashman and [assistant GM Billy] Eppler and the coaching staff did want me back. I had some presence and a good impact on the team. But the money doesn’t come from them and I felt at the time, they had different priorities and I wasn’t at the top of the list.”

    Any hope the Yankees had of reaching ownership’s goal of $189 million was foiled by the failure of any of the organization’s young talent to perform at the major league level. That forced them to go after costly free agents to replenish their lineup and pitching staff this past offseason — additions Martin applauded.

    “I think the smart move is not to repeat a mistake,” Martin said. “I think they paid the price for not acquiring an everyday catcher — or keeping one — and they went and got a good one this year.”

    Actually, drafting Andrew Brackman instead of Jonathan Lucroy or Derek Norris was the expensive mistake…

    Comments on Martin: Letting Me Go Was An Expensive Mistake

    1. KPOcala
      March 18th, 2014 | 1:29 am

      “There are no hard feelings. I definitely didn’t feel like it was in the general manager’s hands at that point. I always believed [Brian] Cashman and [assistant GM Billy] Eppler and the coaching staff did want me back. I had some presence and a good impact on the team. But the money doesn’t come from them and I felt at the time, they had different priorities and I wasn’t at the top of the list.”

      Could be….

    2. Raf
      March 18th, 2014 | 8:37 am

      @ KPOcala:
      Not sure if the article mentions JR Murphy. The Yankees could’ve allowed him to become the starting catcher, with Cervelli and Romine backing him up (or start Cervelli having Murphy and Romine as backups), or they could’ve gone with a lower tier free agent.

    3. KPOcala
      March 18th, 2014 | 12:13 pm

      @ Raf: True. And in fairness, had they kept Martin, then transitioned to Murphy, maybe then to Sanchez. Well then they could have signed Shoo, and/or Ellsbury, with money to fill the infield with better options. But last off-season, Murphy was “promising” Sanchez still “iffy” about becoming a catcher (yes, a few argue he still is a question, but no matter, he’s going to be a “Star” with the bat, and has a cannon arm). And hell, they probably could have pursued a “Greinke-quality FA. My final verdict on Cashman will boil down over the next year or two. What he does with the catching depth, and how they fill the minors with international talent. If he fails, then I’ll tip my hat to Steve. No, I’ll get down on my knees, tip my hat, and call him “Mr. Rickey” ;)

    4. Raf
      March 18th, 2014 | 1:01 pm

      @ KPOcala: Don’t forget that Montero was on the team as a late season callup in 2011. It’s possible that he could’ve made the team in 2012, splitting catching duties with Martin and Cervelli with designs of making Montero the primary catcher in 2013.

      There are many different ways that this situation could’ve gone.

    5. Ben M.
      March 18th, 2014 | 7:22 pm

      SteveL wrote:

      Actually, drafting Andrew Brackman instead of Jonathan Lucroy or Derek Norris was the expensive mistake…

      How about bypassing Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie in the 2005 draft in favor of the immortal C.J. Henry?

    6. Mr. October
      March 18th, 2014 | 8:47 pm

      It would have been nice to have Josh Donaldson’s right-handed bat from the 2007 amateur draft in the lineup last year when offense was desperately needed with the “massive injury pandemic” and loss of Alex Rodriguez. Or Craig Kimbrel’s arm from the 2008 draft (3rd round), or Trevor Rosenthal’s arm from the 2009 draft, in the bullpen this year – a bullpen Cashman called “volatile;” in an interview today. The bullpen is “volatile” because Mariano Rivera’s retirement at the age of 44 last year took Cashman a bit by surprise…

    7. KPOcala
      March 19th, 2014 | 1:40 am

      @ Raf: Interesting. But I’d venture to guess that the brass knew that Montero couldn’t catch then, or if ever.

    8. KPOcala
      March 20th, 2014 | 1:23 am

      @ Mr. October:Obviously Kimbrel was a “sure thing”, that’s why he made it into the third round. And let’s not include the fact that Kimbrel was picked in the third round TEN picks earlier than the Yankees. Oh, and the amazing Tampa Bay organization, the team with the first pick of the draft took the incomparable, HOF-bound, “Tim Beckham”. You know, the darling of all the “experts”, the next can’t miss Tampa draftees. Included in their successes were such successes as Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Delmon Young. “Their” last player drafted at number one to make it as a “star” is David Price, ’07, and Evan Longoria, ’07. It would seem that GM’s get really smart when they inherent crap teams. Later, not so much…….

    9. Evan3457
      March 20th, 2014 | 3:57 am

      The Cubs were so impressed with their selection of Josh Donaldson, 3rd baseman, that 45 picks earlier in that round, they took David Vitters, 3rd baseman. If Donaldson was such an obvious winner, why did they take Vitters, who has yet to make it in the majors, and is finally moving off 3rd to the outfield, ahead of Donaldson? The A’s took a pitcher named James Simmons (hasn’t made the majors yet, either) 4 picks before the Yanks took Brackman. If Beane is such a genius to recognize how valuable Donaldson was, why didn’t he just draft him, 22 picks ahead of the Cubs?

      The Braves were so sure that Kimbrel was going to become the best closer in baseball that they took 3 pitchers ahead of him in 2008, 2 of whom (Brett DeVall, and Tyler Stovall) haven’t pitched an inning in the majors yet, and one of whom (DeVall) is already out of baseball. The 3rd pitcher, Zeke Spruill, has pitched all of 11 innings in the majors after having been traded to Arizona in the Justin Upton deal. Spruill has a halfway decent minor league record, but a very low K rate, so he’s not likely to become anything significant.

      The Cards took 20 players ahead of Rosenthal. Some of them are already valuable players (Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Matt Carpenter). Most of them are not. If Rosenthal was such an obvious choice, why’d the Cards let him go for 20 rounds?

      But perhaps the point is: why didn’t the Yankees draft him in the 1st 20 rounds? They didn’t, but they did draft J.R. Murphy in the 2nd round, and Adam Warren in the 4th, and both of those guys look like they’ll turn out to have some reasonable value, don’t they?

      Not enough; the Cards’ draft is much better? True; but let’s look at how another team did with their draft in 2009. Let’s take the current ProspectMeisters, the Boston Red Sox. How’d they do in 2009? In the 1st round, they drafted Raymond Fuentes, who looks like a decent 4th outfielder, and they traded him away in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. In the 2nd round, they got Alex Wilson, a reliever of modest ability (converted to the pen from starting 2 years ago); he doesn’t appear to be very valuable. And they got a 1st baseman named Chris McGuiness who was one of three prospects they traded to Texas for Saltalamacchia. He doesn’t appear to have much of a future, either. What else? Outfield prospect Brandon Jacobs, who was #46 in the 2012 Baseball America Top 100, but has since played his way out of significant prospect status; they got him in the 10th round.

      Looking down the list of their remaining top 20 picks, I don’t see a single familiar name; not one player regarded as a significant prospect. I think Murphy and Warren are more valuable than all 4 of those guys put together, and that doesn’t count players like Slade Heathcott or Shane Greene, who might contribute in the majors before all is said and done with their careers.

      So…what? They were dummies in 2009, but they’re geniuses in other years? No, not really. They’re a good organization, they just had a bad draft year in 2009. Or an unlucky one. Or both.

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