Why JD Martinez matters


Over the years I have obviously spent my fair share of time lampooning this organization for moves they have made and other moves they haven’t made. Some would say that my time spent doing that has been more than my fair share. I pride myself in being a very good armchair general manager – probably not unlike quite a few of you others out there. But I’d like to think that after following – religiously – baseball for years – and not just this team but baseball in general – that at least I’ve earned the right to be a little critical at times and have that criticism met with not just abject disdain but an open mind by my readers.

What that in mind I’d like to bring up JD Martinez again.

JD Martinez is currently a part-time outfielder for the Detroit Tigers. JD Martinez was a right fielder for the Houston Astros last season until for some reason the team just up and released him during spring training. While it’s not uncommon for teams to drop players from their rosters, I think it’s quite strange that a team that’s acquiring young talent to just let a 26-year old go that came up through their minor league system and hit the ball very well for them. In fact in 336 minor league games Martinez hit .330/.390/.550 with 44 home runs. In 252 games in the majors for the Astros he hit .251/.300/.387 with 24 home runs and 44 doubles. That’s not exactly impressive but as a Royals fan we’ve seen far worse and let’s remember that he isn’t exactly ancient either.

Unlike Nori Aoki – the 32-year old that Dayton Moore acquired this off-season to man right field for the Royals this season. Nori was touted as being an Ichiro clone (or at least Ichiro-lite) – I guess because he comes from Japan as well. Unfortunately Nori came over here on the backside of his career and despite putting up decent numbers in Milwaukee he’s never come close to putting up Ichiro numbers here in the US so any comparisons – by my estimation – are made by people trying to make a point without a point being there to be made.

Nori was also touted by the Royals as being the leadoff hitter that they’ve been looking for – the one guy that would put every other offensive piece in place – a superb outfielder and a gifted base-stealer. The problem is Nori hasn’t been any of those things. The Royals should have known since it was widely reported that Nori had already lost a step before we acquired him and that he wasn’t really the defender that we were told he was, nor has he been very successful at base-stealing.

So that brings us back around to Martinez. The same Martinez that this season – in limited play for the Tigers – has hit .317/.347/.612 in 42 games with 9 home runs and 32 driven in. Nori Aoki has hit .263/.326/.324 in 68 games for the Royals. He has stolen 7 bases while being caught 4 times and he’s been a highlight reel out in the field… and not in a good way.

So why does this matter? It matters because as I have said many times over the years that as a small-market club we have to be smarter than other teams – especially larger market teams and even more especially over teams in our own division. The problem is how smart does one have to be to see a 26-year old power hitter just sitting there for the taking and not take him? How does he escape to another club when we are in such desperate need of power hitters here? How does Dayton not pick up the phone the second that he sees him available and take a chance on a guy that put up those numbers in the minors?

There is no answer. But it does matter. It matters because this is our team. It matters because we are tired of losing. We are tired of being laughed at. This once proud franchise has been ridiculed and forgotten. This once proud franchise has gone a generation without winning.

Would JD Martinez have made us great again? Would he by himself have lead us to the playoffs? No. But it sure would have been a step in the right direction.

So it mattered.  It will always matter.

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  1. I’m not disagreeing that JD Martinez hasn’t been good this year. But, how is JD Martinez different than Mike Moustakas circa Spring Training this year? Say Moose was on another team, would you make the same case you just made without this years numbers three months ago to go get him?

  2. I would imagine that you remember in spring training when he was cut that I said to pick him up immediately… so yes the same argument was made then. It wasn’t so much even a matter of thinking that he’d be this ‘good’ this season as much as it was that he was only 26-years old and put up good minor league numbers. When a guy like that is just dropped by his former club I think it’s not even a matter of being that smart to acquire him as it is sort of common sense. Even if we had grabbed him and he had a season like last year for us it would have been the right move to make in my mind.

    And as far as Moose goes, yes I would have said to go get him as well if he had been in the same situation and dropped by another club. I’m not even solidly in the ‘get rid of Moose’ camp anyway as I think he does have qualities that fit this team and I’d hate to just let him go and then see him – as he’s still young – flourish elsewhere.

  3. I know you said to get him in ST – part of why I was a smartass to you when he hit us in Detroit. That is why I picked that time out specifically to if there was some consistency in your approach. Enjoyed the post.

    We are in the same camp with Moose. I think the saving grace for him and how he is buying extra leash with me is that he can field his position. Granted you want your 3B to hit, but at least he isn’t a butcher with the glove over there as well.

  4. Moose is also showing some signs of power as well. If he can field – which he can – and he can hit 25-30 home runs and drive in 80+ then it doesn’t really much matter if he’s only going to hit .250 (which I know is a stretch from what he is right now). That’s the biggest reason I’m not quite ready to give up on him personally.

    The biggest point about Martinez isn’t necessarily Martinez himself but that it just irks me to no ends that he was there to get and instead of grabbing him and seeing what he could do Dayton was arrogant and assumed that his selecton of Aoki was going to work out and there was no reason to even acquire Martinez.

    At least that’s my assumption because it’s never even been asked if we inquired about obtaining him.

  5. I’m with Rich on this. I posted about it, too. In any case, he was a better option than Justin Maxwell, and he’s four years younger. But oh well, nothing to be done about it now. What pisses me off the most is that the Tigers got him.

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