Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mark? This is Theo...

My written response to this rumor is a bit late, as I first heard it on Sunday... from the very end of Nick Cafardo's lengthy Sunday column...
At this time of year, one takes trade information with a grain of salt, but according to one NL scout, after the Indians turned down Buchholz for Victor Martinez, the Sox countered with a package of Masterson, Michael Bowden, and an outfield prospect. The Indians turned it down.
After waiting a couple of days, I'm just as appalled as I was initially. I cannot imagine passing on an offer of one player (even one as great as Martinez) for two promising young arms like Justin Masterson and Michale Bowden.

From the little that I've seen, these two pitchers have ground ball and strikeout tendencies that lead to long, successful careers. Perhaps neither of them will be on All Star teams, but they would both be valuable, dependable parts of the Indians rotation for years. Normally you don't want to trade stars for depth because of how rare stars are, but pitching is also the name of the game. I think if you can snag two successful, young starters for a hitter who will be a free agent after next season you pretty much have to go for it.

In fact, my reaction to this rumor makes me feel that the Red Sox never extended such an offer. I really cannot believe that Mark Shapiro would reject such an offer from Theo Epstein.

Please understand, I am a huge fan of Victor Martinez. He was on my roto team for the first few years of his career. The biggest Indians fan is a friend of a friend, named Tractor. He got me excited about Martinez during his rookie year by telling my friend, Weino, something to like: "He's been a batting champion at every level of the minor leagues."

Unlike most people, I love hyperbole when it comes to scouting prospects. I remember hearing about the Andrew Miller's exploding slider, Mike Pelfrey's heavy fastball, and of course I'm a sucker for the poise of Rick Porcello. There is something about how exaggerated people can get when touting prospects that just seems like fun to me. Have you seen a minor leaguer or amateur player succeed on a field? Why not envision that the player can transfer those skills at the major league level, to even greater success? Heck, I remember seeing Alex Ochoa in A ball, for the Kane County Cougars, and his outfield arm was probably showcased as a hybrid of Roberto Clemente and Andre Dawson.

Anyway, my point is that this was not hyperbole. Tractor wasn't saying that Martinez was a switch-hitting Johnny Bench, or that he had the balanced swing of Mike Piazza, or that he was the Venezuelan Carlton Fisk. Tractor made a factual claim that sounded a bit exaggerated, yet somewhat believable. Sure, I didn't think he won a batting title at every level, but he must've been a top hitter. By consulting the Baseball Cube, we can that Victor Martinez's Batting Averages in the minors included numbers like this...

2001, High-A, 420 AB's, .329
2002, Double-A, 443 AB's, .336
2003, Triple-A, 274 AB's, .328

His career slash numbers are...

Minor Leagues: .319/.392/.488
Major Leagues: .297/.369/.463

Both of those lines are impressive for any hitter. For a catcher, they are to be treasured and protected. So, I can see the Indians do whatever they can to keep this guy away from the winning organizations that are trying to pry him out of Cleveland. They need to sign him to an extension, and keep him as a cornerstone of their franchise. If they decide to finally trade him while the can, in the next 13 months, I would be very surprised if they get an offer better than Masterson, Bowden, and an outfield prospect.

I guess that's why they play the games, errr I mean follow the rumors?

A few more notes before signing off...

- It was upsetting to see Roy Oswalt take himself out of tonight's game in the second inning. We are hoping for a good diagnosis and quick recovery from whatever was bothering him.

- According to the Astros' TV announcers, tonight is the eighteenth consecutive Cubs game that Koyie Hill has started at catcher. Are they thinking he can start every game until Soto comes back? I don't think he's due back for another two weeks, at least.

- John Danks, of the White Sox, had a great quote in today's Sun Times: ''It would be kind of cool if we got Halladay and to have him here, that would be special,'' Floyd said Monday, ''but if it was for me that would kind of suck.''

- Astros' relief pitcher, Jeff Fulchino, just lost a Kosuke Fukudome ground ball in his jersey.

1 comment:

  1. sorry you are stuck with the Astros announcers (they are equally as corny as Lynn and Bob)...then again, if I hear one more story about Brenly in his days managing back in AZ....