Category: Russell Martin

The Yankees will regret not making an offer to Russell Martin

Russell Martin

Russell Martin

Even though Russell Martin (29) signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates two days ago, the Yankees can be blamed for not bringing him back because they should have offered him a similar contract earlier. He obviously took the offer from the Pirates because he did not feel wanted in the Bronx.

He was the best available option at catcher for the Yankees as the possible free agent catchers don’t provide what Martin does defensively and offensively. A.J. Pierzynski has attitude issues, is old for a catcher (36 as of Dec. 30) and is not as reliable with the pitching staff as Martin. However, he can be relied upon to post a solid average. The other talked about free agent catcher is Mike Napoli. He is more of a part-time player who is more known for his offense.

Pierzynski would be the better option than Napoli, but the Yankees front office has said that they don’t have much interest in signing the veteran catcher who was born on Long Island. Pierzynski would be the better immediate option, but as it stands, it seems like the Yankees will wait to trade for a catcher in July.

Martin only hit .211 last season, which is not what it should have been, but he did slug a career high 21 homers. That is a high number from the catcher position and the Yankees will miss that offensive output behind the plate in 2013. They will also miss his speed on the bases, as he swiped six bases last season, but had a career high of 21 in 2007, which he could possibly come close to again.

Additionally, the Pirates have usually been the team that players from the Yankees have gone to after they could not help the Yankees anymore, like Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and more recently A.J. Burnett, but Martin was necessary for the Yankees to keep. Martin was a finalist for the Gold Glove award, which went to Matt Wieters, and Martin is better than any of the catchers currently on the roster who will be competing for the starting spot.

The four candidates that will attempt to seize the catcher position that are on the roster are Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, Eli Whiteside and Austin Romine. None of the four offer the combination of offense and defense that Martin does.

Cervelli has enthusiasm while being solid behind the plate, but has not shown the ability to produce on offense. He is mainly a singles hitter. Romine is known for his defense and is one of the higher regarded catching prospects in the organization, but he not ready to be the starter. Whiteside is old and is essentially an unknown. Stewart spent time as the catcher last season while Martin was injured.

The Yankees would have a decent defensive catcher and one that is very productive with the bat if they did not make the Jesus Montero trade with the Mariners last off-season. (That trade has not been a success for the Yankees since Pineda has not pitched an inning for the team while Montero hit .260, with 15 homers and 62 RBI as a rookie.)

Unfortunately, Montero is not an option, so it seems like it could be a combination of Cervelli and Stewart, which I did not expect to see. They will need Cervelli to be able to hit in the clutch like he has at times in the past.

UPDATE: Eli Whiteside is no longer an option because the Blue Jays have claimed him off of waivers.

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>Lineups, pitchers and analysis for Game 3 against the Red Sox

>Freddy Garcia (2-2, 2.61) vs. Jon Lester (4-1, 2.96)

Yankees 20-17, 13-10 at home
Derek Jeter SS .267
Curtis Granderson CF .281
Mark Teixeira 1B .252
Alex Rodriguez 3B .254
Robinson Cano 2B .252
Nick Swisher RF C .222
Andruw Jones DH .229
Russell Martin C .245
Brett Gardner LF .259
Red Sox 19-20, 8-11 on the road
Jacoby Ellsbury CF .301
Dustin Pedroia 2B .253
Adrian Gonzalez 1B .325
Kevin Youkilis 3B .240
David Ortiz DH .284
J.D. Drew SS .238
Jed Lowrie RF .325
Carl Crawford LF .213
Jarod Saltamacchia C .203
One through five in the Yankees order is status quo but Posada is out of the lineup a day after he said he needed a “mental day”.  It is unclear if Posada has the night off because of his horrible stats against Lester or because of his actions from Saturday.  At least Posada has handled himself better today than yesterday since he said all the right things to Girardi today.
“I just talked to Girardi, and I kind of apologized to him. Just had a bad day.  Had a bad day yesterday.  Reflecting on it and stuff, everything, all the frustration just came out.”
 
Swisher and Jones move up from the bottom of the order, but it is somewhat confusing that Martin is batting eighth because he should be hitting sixth based on his stats compared to Swisher.  The Red Sox will have Saltamacchia doing the catching instead of Varitek who was behind the plate last night.  The Yankees failure with the runners in scoring position has continued in the first two games against the Red Sox, so hopefully they will be able to flip the switch against Lester.  This will be a challenge against Lester, but maybe he will pitch more like he did in his last start against Toronto, where he gave up five runs, than his six dominating starts before that.  Also, Garcia will need to hold the Red Sox to three runs or less and the Yankees must play fundamental baseball in the field.

>Tackling Athletes and Social Media

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There are many athletes on twitter and the open filter that twitter allows can increase their brand and give their fans further insight into who they are off the court or playing field, but it can also tarnish their image. 
A true benefit of twitter can be raising awareness for ones personal foundation or charity, letting fans know what movies, music, or restaurants they like or describing the places that they travel in the offseason.  Various players on New York teams use twitter is a positive way to inform fans about their lives, interact with people that they choose, in addition to promoting their worthwhile foundations. 
Athletes should be able to speak their minds and what is going on within reason and some of the local ones to be highlighted are Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera, Russell Martin, Landry Fields, Amar’e Stoudemire, Roger Mason Jr. and Mark Sanchez.  This is because they don’t post anything to controversial and realize that everybody, including ESPN and the rest of the media, can see what they are tweeting. 
Recently Sanchez has been conducting his second annual JETS West camp at his high school in Mission Viejo, California.  This year the training out west is even more crucial because the NFL is in a lockout again and players are unable to train and their teams facilities.  Some of the Jets that have participated include Mark Brunell, Kevin O’Connell, Dustin Keller, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, Patrick Turner, Jeff Comberland, John Conner and Joe McKnight.  He has given followers access to what they have been eating (In-N-Out Burger among others) as well as pictures and videos of their training.  They have been watching film at the high school and they have even been holding contests for fans.  He has designed JETS West T-Shirts and said that the proceeds would go to charity.  Sanchez is getting in much needed off season repetitions with his receivers and running backs while giving to charity in the process.
Another player that has giving back to the community on his mind is the Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson.  He tweets updates on his Grand Kids Foundation to let followers know what he is doing to help the community.  He deserves praise for donating 300 bats to the New York Public School Athletic League, half wood for baseball, and half aluminum for softball, that the schools teams desperately need.  He also gave followers the opportunity to support his Grand Kids Foundation during the New York City Marathon.  He has posted pictures of himself practicing as well as stating notable achievements of African Americans during Black History Month.
Landry Fields did not have a lot of followers at the beginning of the year but once he started to prove himself in summer league, and was named a starter to begin the season he began to get many more.  He was a fan favorite this season for his fundamental play since he is able to succeed at many facets of the game.  His “Andy and Landry Show” brought many laughs, and he updated followers on different restaurants he was trying as well as how he was adapting to life in New York and being a rookie in the NBA.  Fields has even done creative contests where fans can win prizes.  He has been successful at not being controversial on twitter while informing followers of what is going on in his life.  
Yankees first baseman Teixeira recently joined twitter, and he largely uses it as a way to promote his foundation, Dreamteam25.  He partnered with the Harlem RBI association and made a sizable donation to benefit the kids.  Teixeira also let fans know that they have extra incentive to make a small donation to his foundation because they would have a chance to win a lunch TEX, a behind the scenes tour of Yankees Stadium, watching the game from a luxury box and other benefits.  Russell Martin took about an hour out of his off day, about two weeks ago, to answer questions from fans.  
Mason Jr. has used his twitter account to promote his foundation “The Roger Mason Jr. Foundation” as well as giving predictions on the playoffs and asking for museum suggestions from his followers.    He has successfully furthered his brand because he has interacted with fans while also staying away from controversial issues.  Stoudemire has promoted his recent sponsorship deals, TV appearances and even gave his followers a sneak peek into his trip to Israel last summer.
Overall, it is important, in this era of increased media scrutiny, that athletes realize that the world has access to what they post on twitter.  They should have the freedom to post what they want because it is unfiltered and a way to let their true personality out, but they shouldn’t touch on many offensive subjects that would ruin their image like Reshard Mendenhall did. Mendenhall, lost his sponsorship with Champion because he tweeted, among other things that he has “a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style”.  He posted this after the news of Bin Laden’s death was announced.  He should think twice before posting something controversial and insensitive like this.
It would not make sense to teams or certain athletes from using twitter because it can be a beneficial tool, but they should learn what is appropriate to post and what is not.  Some athletes don’t display any opinion, so at least here he was speaking what was on his mind, but I think next time he will learn to keep this to himself.  

>Cashman’s Acquisitions Were on the Money

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There is no way to tell if a players encouraging or underachieving start to the season will continue or not but so far Brian Cashman’s offseason signings have been a resounding success, overall.  He deserves praise for his strategy of signing many low risk high reward veteran players hoping that many of them would capitalize.

Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez are both hitting above .300 in limited action with Jones even adding a home run as one of his six hits.  An added benefit of signing Chavez is that he gives the team versatility since he can play first base and third base.  Freddy Garcia has only allowed one run in three appearances, two starts.  They will need him to continue this dominance.  Russell Martin has played like the All Star he was a few years ago before his injuries.  He is hitting .292, with six home runs, 16 RBI and has shown the speed from earlier in his career with two stolen bases.  Martin is constantly hustling and has proven to cause havoc on the base-paths.  

The off-season signing who has surprised the most is none other than Bartolo Colon. He has likely been the Yankees most dominating pitcher so far.  He has proven that his excellent numbers from winter league and Spring Training were not a fluke.  Most probably doubted Colon in Spring Training because he showed up out of shape and did not even pitch in the major leagues last season but so far he looks the pitcher who won 21 games for the Angles in 2005.  So far, in five appearances and two starts, he has 26 strikeouts, six walks and has recorded a stellar 2.77 ERA.

Cashman’s most expensive offseason signing was Rafael Soriano who was coming off an All Star season with the Tampa Bay Rays.  He was signed to a three-year, $35 million contract after recording a 1.73 ERA, 45 saves and 57 strikeouts with Tampa Bay.  So far this season he has allowed nine earned runs which is only three less than he surrendered all of last season.

Soriano came to the Yankees with a lot of hype because it seemed like he would be the perfect bridge to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning, and be a suitable replacement for Rivera when he does retire.  However, as stated above he has not produced on the field, in addition to having meltdowns as well as refusing to talk to the press after ruining a CC Sebathia win against the Twins.  He has even used the cold weather as an excuse for giving up runs earlier in the season.

It is possible that he is one of the players that just can’t handle the media and everything that comes with playing in New York City but based on his performance that last few years it seems like he will bounce back.   In 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 he pitched in at least 53 games and his ERA was always 3.00 or below.  His previous track record surely suggests that he will have many more shut down performances than not the rest of the season.

The other pitcher that Cashman signed that was going to be counted on as being a reliable lefty out of the bullpen was Pedro Felicano.  He was somewhat of a risky signing coming into the season because over the last three years he led the majors in appearances.  He suffered a torn capsule in his left shoulder in Spring Training and is now likely out for the season.  This is not the end of the world because relief pitchers are so hard to predict before the season anyway.  Cashman could not predict that this injury was coming and if needed the Yankees can sign another lefty in July.    

Jones and Chavez offer reliable bats off the bench that the Yankees did not have last season and the team will need the stellar pitching from Colon and Garcia to continue.  Hughes will be out for an extended period of time so if Colon can continue to “turn back the clock” it will surely be an added bonus.  The bullpen can still be a strength of the team when Soriano lives up to his past performance.