Catch of the Off Season

Originally published in The Tigers Den Blog | 25 November 2010


Now that Victor Martinez has passed his physical and is officially a member of the Detroit Tigers I feel it’s appropriate to put down a few comments on the signing and the state it leaves the Tigers in going into next season. Plus, I’m doing it because I’m finally able to sit down and write now that the pre Black Friday preparations have finally ended at work.

  1. As we know Martinez is a fantastic offensive player. He’s a four time all-star and he’s a player who can potentially slug 40+ doubles in Comerica. We’re not going to get into the statistical aspect of his successes and failures at the plate, nor are we going to look at WAR or his defensive liability, because that’s for another time and place (for example, when the season is about to begin). In this article we are going to look at Martinez’s impact on the team as it currently stands since there looks like Dave Dombrowski is dead serious about signing multiple free agents this winter.
  2. One of the best ways to gage a free agent’s value is to look at the reaction from the writers of the team that he left. So, that’s what I did, and this is from Dan Shaughnessy (yes, the same guy who calls the Lions America’s Turkey Team) of the Boston Globe:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “This is one giant turkey,” Shaughnessy (the guy who likes to call stuff he doesn’t like “turkey”) wrote to begin his Wednesday column. “The Red Sox just lost their 31-year-old, middle-of-the-order, switch-hitting catcher. Losing Martinez makes little sense. The Sox are willing to pay David Ortiz (who can’t hit lefties) more than $12.5 million to do a job that pays $6 million tops. They’re going to wind up paying Jonathan Papelbon almost $12 million. J.D. Drew is still cashing checks for $14 million. And Martinez — your switch-hitter who crushes the Yankees and Rays — is not worth $12.5 million per year for the next four years? Why are the Sox acting like they are a small-market team? They sell out every game. They have the second-highest-priced tickets in baseball. Their payroll is exceeded only by the Yankees’. And now they won’t pay the going rate for their starting catcher? How often do the Yankees lose a player they want to keep? The answer is that probably the Sox did not really want to keep Martinez. Only Epstein knows for sure, but my belief is that they simply decided Martinez was not a good everyday catcher. They were willing to go to four years but drew a line on dollars, and ultimately were outbid.”
  3. So what does this actually mean? To me, it reinforces my initial thought that this was a good sign by the Tigers. As fans and writers we can criticize what a player makes all day long if we want, but really, when it comes to play on the field it doesn’t matter if the player positively helps the team. Expensive contracts like the ones gifted to Bonderman, Willis, and Robertson are deadly to your team’s immediate future. Expensive contracts to All-Star, Silver-Slugger Catchers are not deadly contracts.
  4. The fact that the Red Sox may not think Martinez is a “good everyday catcher” is true. I don’t think he’s a good everyday catcher either, but that’s not why I want him. For a price that is less than Adam Dunn is going to inevitably get from the Cubs or someone willing to pay $15-$17 million a year, the Tiger’s got their 1B/DH option to pair with Miguel Cabrera and a player who can catch as well, when Alex Avila needs his weekly day off. It’s really a perfect setup, especially since the Tigers like to field Venezuelan born players (Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Armando Galarraga, Martinez, and if they bring him back, Magglio Ordonez – which would be an absolutely fantastic 3-4-5-6 batting order) who understand each other and will most likely form a valuable bond. Although, the extremely loud and obnoxious Latin music in the clubhouse and dugout is kind of annoying at times, we’ll gladly take that with some wins.
  5. Now that the Tigers have signed an impact relief pitcher, and an impact infielder where will they go next? Personally, I would like to see Jayson Werth man right field for the Tigers for the next four or five years, and hopefully Dombrowski does to. Whatever the case, I think there is one more big impact bat in the Tigers future and it will not simply be Magglio Ordonez

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