For the past few days, people have been speculating as to what is wrong with Russell Martin, whether he is finished, why is he so bad, etc., and so I am going weigh in with a couple of things:
- Some say it is overuse. PLEASE! This guy is in great shape and has played 122, 129, 144, 151 and 155 games over the past 5 years. He’s 26 – that’s Nothing! Jason Kendall had a stretch of 7 years where he played 143 to 157 games and was over 150 games 4 times in that span. Johnny Bench played the following number of games over a ten year span: 154, 148, 158, 149, 147, 152, 160, 152, 135, 142. Those who castigate Torre and Little for overuse of Martin are out of touch.
- Some say he has lost his speed and can’t catch up to a fastball. RUBBISH! At 26? I find that silly – no matter what the stats say.
- Some say his partying and lifestyle are part of the problem. Maybe last year – not this year!
- Some say he has a bad attitude and wants to “pull” everything. Again, he may be hard-headed, but he’s not that hard headed.
- Some say that maybe he was on steroids before. I have to admit, I did pause on that one. One thing I can say for sure, but can’t quantify is that there is an undercurrent of “knowing” about steroids and a “wink, wink, look the other way” attitude by insiders. I hope that’s not the case, but who knows these days – everyone is a suspect. I discount that with Martin, but that’s just me.
- Some have suggested that it is Mattingly’s coaching because Martin’s decline started last near the time Mattingly arrived as hitting coach. Again, this is not very plausible to me as we have 2 hitting coaches in Mattingly and Pentland. I think if you are a weak-minded olf, a good coach can help you (witness Andruw Jones), but Russ Martin is a big boy and can make decisions for himself. I don’t think you suddenly just forget how to hit. I can’t buy that either.
In 1970, Johnny Bench hit .293 with a .345 OB%. At this juncture of his career, he was already a star. The next year (1971) he hit .238 with a .299 OB%. Was he washed up? Hardly! He went on to have some of his best years after that. Unless Russ Martin has some loathsome disease, he will bounce back – maybe this year, maybe next, but a guy just doesn’t lose it at 26. By the way, in 1970, Johnny Bench was 23. Now, Russ Martin is no Johnny Bench offensively, but he is darn good defensively, and that defense, the fact that he is first in all of baseball in throwing out runners, and his handling of the pitching staff, is no small reason why we have the best ERA in baseball and the best record in baseball. RESPECT RUSS MARTIN!
Martin has been too good for too long that Joe Torre (who knows catchers) is giving him a lot of rope, and I still say he is one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball. Yes, when a guy is going bad it is easy to see everything he does that is bad and ignore the good, but in a lot of ways, he is our most important player.
Our pen just got stronger as the Dodgers recalled James McDonald from Triple-A Albuquerque to be a long reliever and sent right-handed reliever Travis Schlichting to Albuquerque. What took so long?
Mitch Jones FIRST Major League Start.
My Man Mitch!
- Pierre, LF
- Furcal, SS
- Hudson, 2B
- Blake, 3B
- Ethier, RF
- Kemp, CF
- Loney, 1B
- Martin, C
- Jones, DH