Thursday, November 29, 2012

Russell Martin and the New Money in Baseball

The Pirates just signed Russell Martin to a 2 year, $17 million deal.  That's $8.5 million a year for a 29 year old catcher who...  Well, let's compare his 2012 numbers to our very own catcher:

Salty: .222 BA, .288 OBP, 25 HR, 59 RBI, 17 2B, 55 R, 38 BB (448 plate appearances)
Martin: .211 BA, .311 OBP, 21 HR, 53 RBI, 18 2B, 50 R, 53 BB (485 plate appearances)

Fifteen more walks = A fuckton more cash.  Sickening proof enough that the Cult of Sabermetics is alive and well in the front offices of Major League teams.

Martin's contract would be ridiculous, if Brandon League hadn't been offered $22.5 million over 3 years by the Dodgers.  Ditto for the $75.25 million the Braves gave to an underachiever like BJ Upton for five years.  (Should that contract be called the "Theo/Drew Special"?)  Hell, let's throw the $10 million, 2 year contract the Red Sox just gave to Johnny Gomes -- a glorified backup outfielder -- into the ring. In light of the other contracts players are signing before the 2013 season, Martin's deal seems normal.

I still think the money is ridiculous, but I'm not one of the owner's looking at my general ledger and deciding who to cut a check to.  From reality's point of view, it is myself who must alter my views of what is now "normal" in regards to the contracts received by Major League ball players.

I feel like Red Sox fans are grappling with this new reality right now, as well.  We see other teams making big deals, while Ben Cherington seemingly has his hands stuffed in his pockets, looking around, whistling absently.  That's the impression we get after the Blue Jays just made a historic trade with the Marlins -- let me correct myself, a historically ridiculous trade.  A trade of such proportions that hasn't been seen before, and any General Manager would have jizzed their pants if it was offered to them.  I can't say why Toronto got so lucky.

Regardless, trades like this and the enormous amounts of money being thrown around in the free agent market right now for, well, shitty players, places Cherington in a bad position.  I feel bad for the guy, it's not his fault.  What should Ben do -- try to compete with a loaded Toronto Blue Jays team?  Baseball pundits will gripe about how the 5-9 positions in Toronto's batting order is full of question marks right now, but please...  Toronto is building around a superior 1-4 core of hitters at this point.  They have a starting rotation loaded with pitchers who can easily have a collective 4.00 ERA and 200 IP for the top four starters.  All the Blue Jays need to do is load the 5-9 portion of their batting order with competent big league players and their pitchers will rake in wins.  This is what is staring Ben in the face right now.

I wouldn't blame him if he loaded the 2013 Red Sox team with prospects.  Though I would, AHEM, made a 15% cut in ticket prices.  If Ben could engineer that, Red Sox fans would have less gripes about Mauro Gomez and Pedro Ciriaco being in the line up everyday.

The positive side of that line up, of course, is...

Martin: .211 BA, .311 OBP, 21 HR, 53 RBI, 18 2B, 50 R, 53 BB (485 plate appearances)

Do you really think Mauro Gomez is going to post worse stats than that over 500 plate appearances?  I mean, fucking really.  $8.5 million a year buys those stats in 2013, and Ben could pay Mauro Gomez league minimum to get the same fucking thing.  Personally, I'd give Gomez a two year, $4 million deal simply because he's been durable in the minors, he's spent so much time in the minors that a low contract like that would buy his undivided attention, and he seems like a nice guy who Red Sox fans would enjoy the presence of; seeing an underdog fight his way through the minors to become our starting first baseman.  An awesome baseball story.

Or.. Ben could give Napoli 4 years, $40 million, for slightly better numbers.  Pardon me while I think about that contract and vomit.

Not only do I want the Red Sox to field a competitive team next season, but I've staked the thesis of this blog on it being crucial that the Red Sox pretend to be competitive.  But this Blue Jays/Marlins trade changes the whole dynamic of the AL East, and now I'm wondering if you gotta know when to fold'em instead of hold'em.

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