Wednesday, March 3, 2010

3. Victor Martinez, C and sometimes 1B and DH

Baseball Prospectus' 2010 Projection:

31 582 67 29 1 20 90 58 72 1 0 .283 .361 .459 3.3

Baseball Prospectus' Take:

"Martinez made a full recovery from his injury-plagued 2008 season...Curiously his production at Fenway, both career and in '09, is a tick below that (.302/.377/.483)...The Sox want Martinez to spend most of his time behind the plate in 2010...Just 14 percent of opposing basestealers caught in '09."

X-Mark's Take:

As I discussed with Pedroia in my last post, it is really fortunate to have an above average to very good player at a premium position, and Martinez is just that. At 3.3 WARP projected, Martinez is certainly a very good player and probably the back up AL catcher in the All Star game this year (even the Nation can't propel V-Mart over Joe Mauer...or maybe we can, but I hope we don't, Joe is the best player in baseball and he deserves the start).

So why am I not really a fan?

For one, V-Mart is a free agent after this season which really puts the onus on the Sox to make a pretty serious decision on yet another aging veteran. If they plan to keep him around it will not come at a discount and as is very common with signing any player in his 30's to a long-term deal, the last couple years of the contract will probably look bad or even ugly.

For two, even though Victor is underrated as a catcher (he is not terrible as is mistakenly reported, he is much closer to average as a receiver), he is still not long for the position. 50+ extra base hits is great for a full time catcher, even Hall of Fame worthy, but if he has to shift to first base in a year or two, which I fully expect, he becomes merely average or below that making his likely $13-17 million dollar salary a bad contract.

For three, those caught stealing rates are truly alarming. As a former catcher I know that a huge part of catching would-be-base-stealers is having a pitcher who can hold the runner on. But 14% is really f'n bad. And from scouting reports I've seen, it does not seem that this is likely to change unless the Sox pitching staff revolutionizes the slide step move (unlikely as long as Beckett and Paps are around).

For four, well I've got nothing really else bad to say about the guy. He seems like a good teammate and he really is a great hitter for a catcher. I'm just really scared about the long-term contract we will probably throw at him because we don't have any really good catching prospects in the minors (the Yankees have 3...I guess their transition from Posada to the next wave will be rather smooth...basterds). So I guess we will have to see how the season turns out. Maybe Victor will get used to pounding balls off the Monster and maybe the pitching staff will help a brother out with some quicker moves to the plate and maybe some extra time at DH against lefties will allow him to stay fresh for years to come. It sure is fun to dream.

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