Thursday, September 15, 2011

Russell Martin, Happy Barnicle

The Canadian media (Postmedia News) just did a profile piece on Russell Martin, the Yankees catcher who seems to be quite happy to have left the Dodgers. In order to drive your rage and get the taste of vomit in the back of your throat, here's an excerpt (no link):

The Dodgers offered Martin a one-year, $4.2 million US deal in December. But Martin wouldn't sign with the Dodgers for less than the $5 million he earned in 2010. When the Dodgers refused to give him that, Martin became a non-tendered free agent.

Nine months later, he says things could not have worked out better after signing a one-year, $4-million deal with the New York Yankees.

"Looking back, there definitely was a silver lining in everything that happened," Martin said from the visitor's dugout at Baltimore's Camden Yards in late August. "Getting hurt and not really knowing how I'd bounce back or how my body would react to the injuries wasn't easy. But then being put in a situation to play with one of the best organizations in all of sports - it's something special."

Barring a September collapse, the Yankees are headed to the playoffs for the 16th time in 17 years. And the 28-year-old Martin, who is hitting .240 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs, enters the final few weeks of the season feeling both healthy and comfortable with a pitching staff he had never worked with until February.

For the record, Martin batted .248 in his truncated 2010 season with the Dodgers. So although he may be heading toward a post-season berth, it's not necessarily due to upgraded contributions from the sourpuss backstop. He's just hanging on like a barnicle, thankful to be relatively healthier than the 9,000-year-old Jorge Posada.

But I digress. Cue vomit:

"I just feel like I can drive the ball out of the park to all fields," Martin said. "It's a comfort level that I didn't have the last couple of years. I think I'm a little stronger, a little bit more explosive and obviously working with (Kevin Long) one of the best hitting coaches in the game has helped a lot." [...]

"I'm very comfortable here," Martin said. "It's a great group of guys, a great staff, great coaches, we're all winners, we're all pulling on the same side of the rope. . . . Who wouldn't want to stay here?"

Well, there's one other thing to consider, Russell:

Martin is arbitration-eligible this off-season, and while he says he would "absolutely" like to return in pinstripes, the Yankees' strongest position within the organization is behind the plate.

New York's top-rated prospect, 21-year-old catcher Jesus Montero, made his major-league debut on Sept. 1 after spending the past two years in triple-A. He homered twice in his Yankee Stadium debut on Sept. 5 and is viewed within the organization as the team's catcher of the future.

Through Monday, Montero had played in eight games and was hitting .308 with three home runs and six RBIs.

When Martin originally signed with New York for one year, it was widely seen as a rental move to bridge the gap between Posada and Montero. Catchers Austin Romnie, the Yankees minor league player of the year in 2009, and Gary Sanchez, New York's No. 2 rated prospect according to Baseball America, could also factor into management's decision on Russell's future with the club.

I really hope A.J. Ellis (or even Tim Federowicz, for that matter) can help turn Martin into a distant memory on this coast.


Greg Hao said...

I sincerely hope something heavy falls on Russell Martin.

Josh S. said...

If Santana wasn't traded, Russ would have been phased out here anyway. Sounds like the same thing might happen to him with Montero. And I say huzzah to that.

(Though, if the other 7 playoff teams can keep this joker from getting a ring, I'd appreciate it.)

spank said...

I hate that guy.

QuadSevens said...

With our luck, we'll sign him again when he's 36 and can barely hit .220.

Greg Hao said...

@quad - more like .190. He's already close to .220.

DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy said...

Moving to a hitter's park would do that, but now the Yanker fans will bash him just watch, if he continues to start in the postseason and doesn't come up big like you are expected to.

QuadSevens said...

Good point Greg. He'll hit .220. Then we'll sign him. Then he'll suck.