Friday, July 31, 2009
THE PRICE IS RIGHT FOR VICTOR MARTINEZ
The Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians for Justin Masterson and a pair of minor leaguers. The switch hitting Venezuelan catcher/first baseman supplements an offense that has been struggling to remain consistent.
The price the Sox paid is what makes me like this deal. I'm not too enthused about getting Martinez, because the biggest offensive holes have been at short-stop and in the outfield. Justin Masterson has good stuff and good potential, but he's struggled as Major Leaguers have gotten to know him better. The two minor leaguers - Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price - are good A level prospects, but their upside is so far down the road and such an unknown that they are a relatively small price to pay for a hitter like Martinez.
In 99 games this season, Martinez is hitting .284, with a .368 OBP, and a .464 SLG. He's hit 15 homeruns, and knocked in 67 RBI. He's walked and struck out 51 times.
Martinez will play every day. He's too good to be platooned. He'll fill the role LaRoche filled, spelling Lowell, with Youkilis shifting to third. But he'll also spend a lot of time behind the plate, giving Varitek some time off. Kotteras can go down to AAA Pawtucket and return in September when rosters expand.
Jason Varitek, just like he did last year, has fallen off. That's to be expected from a 37 year old catcher. His OPS in July is .121 lower than his OPS in April. He's hitting .220 on the road.
In a theoretical stretch of 10 games, expect Martinez to play about 9 times. He can give Ortiz and Lowell 2 days off each, give Youkilis 1 day off, and give Varitek 4 days off.
After completing the Martinez deal, the Sox traded the superfluous Adam LaRoche to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman, who is also a first baseman, but it more of a bench-type of player. The Sox are also getting $1 million in cash along with Kotchman. Not too shabby.