Russell Martin Rumors: Thursday

A few updates on Russell Martin today.

**Yesterday we heard a report that the Pirates offered $25 M over three years. Later we heard that amount was high. George A. King III of The New York Post says that the Pirates offered two years initially, then moved to a three year, $22 M offer.

**Daniel Rathman of Baseball Prospectus looks at Russell Martin’s value (subscription required). He notes that Martin’s value really comes down to whether you believe in pitch framing statistics. He points out Martin’s success in the area, and notes that Martin would be a bargain at his original asking price of $10 M a year if those numbers were to be believed.

**Speaking of the pitch framing study, here it is. Between 2007-2011, Martin ranked second in total runs. The difference between him and Rod Barajas in runs per 120 games was 20 runs.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • John Dreker

    I don’t believe in pitch framing as much as I believe in name pitchers getting better strike zones. Put a catcher on the Yankees and he is probably going to get more calls catching CC Sabathia than a catcher on the Pirates trying to frame pitches for Kevin Correia. If he comes to the Pirates, I see those numbers dropping and people will blame it on declining skills.

    I think for defense, you learn a lot more by watching the players than any stat can tell you and having seen Martin catch hundreds of times. I don’t see him as a true strong defense catcher. Lets face it, he won his Gold Glove the old-fashioned way, having a strong offensive season too. I see him as solid, with a declining bat and three years would be a mistake, even at the $22mil price tag instead of $25mil like we first heard

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      i too believe in your pitch framing theory. however, i think Martin is a league “average” defensive player.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I think that’s a good argument against pitch framing.

      • Blue Bomber

        Jorge Posada is on the list at -25. It can’t all be who Martin was catching. Lucroy is +24. Ryan Doumit at -66 makes sense to me, he is the worst at pitch framing I’ve ever seen. The ranking of the list makes sense to me based on what I’ve seen from these catchers. I’m not sure about the amount of runs saved they are attributing to it.

  • zabrucky

    Just sign Drew already, when will they stop signing washed up bums?

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      what has Drew done the last few years, besides get hurt I mean? Barmes might not hit well, but his glove is far superior to Drew, and Drew isnt bad.

      the pirates will go as far as its pitching well allow them. blaming Barmes for anything is so June 2012.

      use the money for Drew on pitching help.

      • zabrucky

        The dude can’t hit who cares about his “superior” glove. Drew’s been hurt, if he’s healthy he’ll be a huge upgrade.

        • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

          his “superior” glove saves more runs than Drew’s bat can generate. and Drew isnt that good of a hitter anyway, so what are we arguing about???

    • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

      There is some humor to that considering Drew’s career path…but he has been hurt…then again, he is a Drew and JD was not known for his toughness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vince.riedy Vince Riedy

    The only way this would make sense to overpay for Martin is if he is the final piece or one of the final pieces to make the postseason. So unless there are other moves on the works this does not make sense at this cost.

    • michaelbro8

      Bada Bing ! Nail on the Head

  • http://twitter.com/beatembuccos21 beatembuccos21

    I think there is a lot of logic behind what you have written, John. When Barajas was signed last year (http://www.piratesprospects.com/2011/11/pirates-get-their-starting-catcher-in-rod-barajas.html), the front office touted his ‘game calling, receiving, blocking, and veteran leadership with the pitching staff as strengths’

    So, is the FO now saying that none of what Barajas brought to the table matters? Or does Martin bring the same attributes plus the pitch framing?

    In other words, we were told Barajas was good defensively. He wasn’t. When it was obvious he wasn’t good defensively, we were told he was a master at calling games. When the pitching fell apart in the second half, it became obvious that either that skill was absent or it was fleeting or it was inconsequential. At any rate, it sounds like the FO is trying to sell the fans on a solid defensive catcher again this year. Not sure if I’m buying.

    • https://profiles.google.com/116255365477483987850 jalcorn

      The difference is that by traditional measures Martin is an average defender and derives his value on offense. He has put up 7.4 WAR the last three years and will be 30 opening day. Comparing that to Rod last offseason who had put up 3.7 WAR his previous three years and was 36 on opening day.

      Martin is twice the player (even without considering framing which is pretty clear to have some value in the BP articles), thus twice the cost.

      BTW, for anyone who hasn’t read it, go back to that BP article in 2011 on framing. The stuff on Doumit is awesome, they show 12 pitches down and in and on 11 of them he dips his head as he catches it, all 11 are called balls, the One that he stays steady with his head gets called a strike.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

        You have to factor in Martin’s homers which will decrease 20-30% at least in pittsburgh. I feel like he is a 1.5-2.0 WAR player in Pittsburgh and as the rigors of catching take its toll after 30.

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          I thought that too. Then I looked at his homers from last year. 10/13 homers at Yankee Stadium were opposite field and all were over the fence at PNC. I’ll have more in an article tonight.

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          Actually, scratch that last comment. After further review, it looks like you’re right.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

        That is interesting on the framing. Not surprising though with Doumit. I’d like to see stats on how many balls fouled off his mask he went down and acted hurt on compared to other C’s. I know it is more. Way more than Barajas. I didn’t call him “Glass Dough” for nothing.

        • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

          ..or was it “Glass Dome”?

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      i’ll give Barajas some credit here: he was once a very good defensive catcher. his stats show it.

      unfortunately the pirates signed him and he had his worst overall season by far. meh.

      • zabrucky

        Seems to be a common theme

        • michaelbro8

          Agreed; that could warrant a lengthy post all by itself: “Why so many Bucs free agent signings completely bomb when they become a Buc ?” I do get that some of the signings were questionable anyway, but the degree to which they “bomb” is amazing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

        Catchers past 33-34 are a timebomb. Especially with PED testing. Barajas was an extreme example of gamblingon a players age. He is ancient for a starting catcher.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.graham.773 Bryan Graham

    My question is, why? Martin’s batting average has been only getting worse the last couple years, he hit a not so solid .211 last season although the last 2 seasons he hit 18 and 21 home runs respectively. So by the looks of it we would be getting a .220 hitter with 15-20 HR’s/year. I don’t know about you, but I feel that even the Fort could accomplish this. As for the defense, when it comes to catching base stealers, I can’t see Martin being much better than Fort or Barajas was unless the pitchers completely change their philosophy about holding them on base and maybe developing a slide step here or there. As far as the “pitch framing” argument goes, I can’t agree more that a huge variable of that is who is actually pitching. The Pirates have 2 legitimate pitchers and neither are exactly Cy Young award winning candidates, pitch framing may help them slightly, but none of the other pitchers are getting anything than any other pitcher in the league wouldn’t get. I will take the Fort for now, last year this kind of money would have got you Josh Willingham, I’m not sure if there is a guy like him out there this year, but if there is I would much rather have that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

      What if umpires read up and realize he is a great pitch framer and quit giving him calls because it is in the back of their head. You cant put millions of dollars of value on a skill that is difficult to quantify.