The biggest question mark this offseason is not the McCourt divorce fiasco, the Dodgers new manager, which free agents they sign or what trades
they make. The biggest and most difficult question facing the Dodgers is:
“What do we do with Russell Martin?”
It’s a simple question, but the answers are complex. At first blush, it’s easy to say “Look, he’s gotten worse over the past three years and now he’s coming off a serious injury which could eventually require surgery or maybe he won’t ever be able to catch again.” Those are valid points, but it’s still not that simple.
When Russ Martin burst onto the scene in 2006, he looked like a very solid hitter and in 2007 (his first full season) he put up very credible offensive numbers. While not the second-coming of Johnny Bench, he looked like a player who would be the cornerstone of the Dodgers for years. However his batting averages have dropped every year since his breakout season in 2007. He has dropped from .292 to ,280 to .250 to .248 in his injury-shortened 2010 season. Some people say that he is trying to pull everything, but his hitting charts do not bear that out. It’s not that simple. They are trying to give a simplistic answer to a complex question.
Russ Martin could easily be the Dodgers’ captain, or an ex-Dodger. Russell’s work ethic is legendary and he is beloved by his teammates. He is a solid, if not spectacular, defensive catcher. He has a good on-base percentage, but has been in a downward hitting spiral for three years. Can he turn it around, or is he a lost cause? Russell has very good speed for a catcher, can steal a base and has never been hurt until last year. He bring intangibles to the position, but that said, Russ needs to be what he should be and that is a #2 hitter. He should be able to hit .285 with a .380 OB% while doing all the things a solid number two hitter can do.
Here’s the complicating factor: Russ Martin could get $5 to $6 mil a year in arbitration. Is he worth that?
Can he be that take-charge Captain guy who leads by example? Or does he get the Hook? What’s your take?
Yorvit Torrealba is available, Bengie Molina is available, AJ Ellis looks serviceable and Rod Barajas would like to stay a Dodger.