Feb 012011

Yours truly committed a sin of omission yesterday and forgot to include Russell Martin in my defense of the Yankee offseason, so here’s my apology to you (and Russell, on the off chance he’s reading this). Signing Russell Martin was a good move for the Yankees. He’ll be making just $4MM, which is affordable for the Yankees. He also has a year of team control left, so if the Yankees like what they get out of him in 2011, they can tender him a contract and keep him around for 2012.

On the field, he gives the Yankees a good defensive catcher and someone who can at least not embarrass himself at the plate. The .307 wOBA and his 86 wRC+ may belie my point a bit, but those numbers are a bit mundane because of a big drop in power–.081 IsoP over the last two years. In that time, though, Martin has had a 12.0% walk rate, leading to a .350 OBP. Essentially, that’s all Martin has to do for his time with the Yankees to be worth it: play good defense and avoid making outs. CAIRO projects Martin to have a .336 wOBA, which would be more than acceptable, considering Martin’s defense.

That’s where I want to take this post. What should we reasonably expect from Martin in 2011? I’m comfortable going with the .336 wOBA projection, though I could have us temper those expectations because his wOBA has been under .310 for the last two years. CAIRO assumes 547 PAs for Martin in 2011, so let’s run a quick WAR projection, assuming a league average wOBA of .327 (2010’s league average) and plus 4.5 defense (average of 2009-2010 DRS), we get a rather lofty 4.0267 WAR projection for Martin. That’s really high, but I think it comes from a few things: the nice positional adjustment (+12.5), good projected defense, and a lot of PAs. Despite this calculation, this is not a fair expectation of Martin.

As noted, he hasn’t hit that well lately and I doubt he gets that much playing time. Why not? Well, we all assume that at one point, Jesus Montero will be (once again) destroying the International League and he’ll be ready to join the big league club. At that point, I think we’ll say goodbye to Francisco Cervelli and we’ll see Mr. Martin shift to the back up catcher’s role. When Montero comes up, there’s no way he’s not going to be playing every day.

If Russell Martin can give the Yankees about half a season of competent play, keeping the seat warm for Jesus Montero, I’ll be happy. If he can do more than that, I’ll be even happier.

6 Responses to “Expectations: Russell Martin”

  1. I dotn disagree with what you said about playing time for Montero and Martin but I think there is a scenario under which Montero is called up and Martin is performing so well you simply can’t move him to simply being a backup especially with the defensive differences between Russell and Jesus. I can see the potential for Montero being called up and Posada not living up to expectations with the bat and they use Montero to come up and split ABs between catcher and DH, Brian did say that if Posada didn’t hit well enough he would look for other options and I don’t think it would be far fetched to end up with Martin and Posada each starting 3 games out of every 5 (Martin at C and Posada at DH) with Montero taking 2 games a week away from each essentially giving you a Martin/Montero platoon at C and a Posada/Montero Platoon at DH.

    This would allow Montero to slowly adjust to being a big league catcher and dealing with a big league staff as well as give him days to focus on purley hitting, it allows for maximum value out of Montero while not relegating Martin or Posada to the bench if they are doing well.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    Game 1: Martin/Posada
    Game 2: Martin/Montero
    Game 3: Montero/Posada
    Game 4: Martin/Montero
    Game 5: Montero/Posada

    Something along those lines for anyone who wanted a visual…. it gives you Posada for 3 games, Martin for 3 games and Montero for all 5 games with Frankie or Posada obviously catching a game here or there based on neccesity but I think this gives you the best mix of all 3 players (assuming they are all doing well and are justified in playing time) and you have Jesus’ bat in the lineup everyday without having to sacrafice behind the plate everyday.

    I believe this also solves the ego problem for any one player because in a simple breakdown Martin will catch more than Montero and Posada will DH more than Montero but Jesus would play more than either one of them.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    T.O. Chris Reply:

    FML! It’s early… Obviously Montero would be in 4 games not all 5.  (Quote)

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  2. Screw a half season, I would take 40 games of that type of production from Martin!

    Let’s be honest, Martin is nothing more than a placeholder for Montero or at best, a cheap contingency plan in the event that Montero gets hurt in Triple-A or, however unlikely it may be, stinks up the joint in 2011 in SWB.

    As soon as he starts mashing, the Yanks should, and probably will, call up Montero. He is the future, not Martin, and it’s in the team’s best interest to get Jesus as much Major League experience at the plate and behind it as they can. So whatever production they get from Martin before Jesus gets the call is gravy.

    And with the power in the rest of the lineup, even if Martin sucks it shouldn’t hurt the team too much.  (Quote)

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  3. I’m not dissing anyone here, but I think I will have a good laugh if Francisco Cervelli proves everyone wrong this coming season. Just my two cents:D  (Quote)

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