On Tigers and Victor Martinez

The Tigers haven’t had the Major League portion of their end-of-season meetings, the part where they go over their potential roster moves for the offseason and flesh out their wish list. That will come next week here in Detroit. And even then, the Tigers fear tampering accusations enough that they won’t say a whole lot on specific players before free agency gets going and players officially hit the open market. Still, it isn’t difficult to look at the roster as it is now and see a fit for Victor Martinez.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post wasn’t reporting that the Tigers would make a “strong push” for Martinez so much as he was tweeting what he has heard. His name had popped up in someone else’s prose as well earlier this month. But in a market where there are few impact bats and the prices for the top ones are expected to go big, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if the Tigers went after Martinez, so long as he’s willing to fit into the openings the Tigers have.

If he is, he would essentially fill two holes with one signing. The Tigers need a run-producing bat in the middle of the lineup, but they also need a right-handed hitting catcher to back up and/or share at-bats with Alex Avila. The switch-hitting Martinez fits both, having batted .300 with an .846 OPS since 2004 while averaging better than 20 home runs and just under 100 RBIs over a healthy season.

The Tigers are a known commodity for Martinez. He knows the AL Central from his years in Cleveland, and he knows Tigers players both from Venezuela and beyond. And assuming the Tigers end up re-signing Jhonny Peralta, Martinez knows at least one Tiger really well.

The big question, possibly the one that makes or breaks any interest, is how attached Martinez is to catching every day. If it’s a deal-breaker for him, then it could be interesting, not just catching him now at age 32 but down the road in a long-term deal. While Martinez had solid numbers this year catching 110 games in Boston, his reputation as a catcher isn’t all that strong. Tigers pitchers have had the benefit of standout defensive catchers for several years now, and as this past season showed, they’re not used to having to hold runners to give their catcher a chance to throw out a would-be basestealer.

Catching transitions haven’t gone well recently in Detroit. Ivan Rodriguez’s situation turned ugly two years ago once the Tigers talked about splitting starts with Brandon Inge, who didn’t really want to catch anymore in the first place but wanted to play. Simply getting Pudge to take days off was a chore for Alan Trammell and Jim Leyland. Gerald Laird was kind of a forgotten man by season’s end once the Tigers decided to see how Avila would handle everyday duty and were impressed. Dusty Ryan’s late-season audition in 2008 didn’t go well.

The ideal scenario for the Tigers would be to have Martinez catch part-time and DH when he isn’t behind the plate. It gives the Tigers some flexibility next year if Avila struggles, and it fills their DH needs while also leaving some games open there for other guys — maybe Ryan Raburn, maybe Magglio Ordonez if he’s re-signed. But then, with Ordonez coming off ankle surgery, there’s plenty of question how much he can be counted on to play outfield next year. I don’t think the Tigers have the roster flexibility to sign both Martinez and Adam Dunn, more like one or the other. Considering Dunn doesn’t want to be a DH, and reportedly is serious about it (not just a negotiating ploy), it could be a matter of which one is most willing to DH. But can they fit Martinez and Ordonez?

11 Comments

I hope I am wrong but talk thus far on improving offense seems to revolve around the DH position or moving Raburn if something better comes along as happened this year with Damons late acquisition.
Is Carlos already gone or has he become the 25th player on $13m? To be treated like Zoom, plan for no contribution and see what eventuates?
DD has been downright terrible in off loading unwanted players on large dud contracts. Every player can be moved provided you are big enough to bring to account your mistake by continuing to pay salary after the trade. Surely there will be interest for Carlos in the $2-5m range once he is fit early next year.
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It will be interesting whether DD tries and is able to score a big name offensive player. I hope he doesn’t try and goes for players with some MLB experience on the way up, not already there and in their 30’s.
However, when it comes to pitching, we need experience to go with all the greeness. Under no circumstances should 2011 be planned on the basis of Oliver or Coke being in the rotation on opening day. They are your insurance needed for the injuries that will eventuate.
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A Rangers/Giants WS would be a buzz and you can’t count the Rangers out of todays game even 5-0 down. Unreal with their bullpen being shaky all year apart from Feliz. Funny cheering for a couple of players at the same time hoping their NYY loses.

Wow Jason, “re-sign Jhonny Peralta”? Seriously? The Tigers declined the team option on October 4 and he’s now a free agent. Please try to keep up.

With 50 or so million available next year for free agents do you see the Tigers making a run at Cliff Lee? Thanks.
KB
NY

It sure would be nice to have a veteran catcher who can hit. No offense to Alex, but would he be willing to get with the program and let Victor do the majority of catching? I can’t imagine another scenario for a high priced, and highly prized catcher like VM. Already, I’m dreaming of him behind the plate and hitting for power. Where would he bat in the lineup?
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Benjie Molina says he might retire after this year and he’s 35. A Molina brother behind the plate for a year or two wouldn’ be such a bad thing, either.
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OMG, I hate the Yankees.

Jason’s ALWAYS ‘keeps up’. Of course we declined the 7 Mil. option. He was not/is not getting that kind of money ANYWHERE. Seems everyone (but you) knew/knows, we will try to re-sigh Peralta for far less, and make him our starting SS.

Maybe I’m the one that doesn’t keep up, but I don’t recall Peralta’s option being settled one way or the other.
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On Martinez: Victor had always been my favorite Cleveland player before he moved to Boston. That said, I’m not sure how this would work out. My guess is that he’d want more years than we should risk. I’d rather pay him more for a shorter contract. Him wanting to catch a lot and nearly everyone else wanting him to DH a lot could become a big issue. On the other hand, I do remember him playing some firstbase for Cleveland, although I’m not sure how well he played the position. What I’m thinking here is that Cabrera CAN do some DHing himself if it helps the club. In fact, JL might have tried some of that in 2009 when Aubrey Huff was here. But anyway…………I like Victor’s bat, but he’s never hit well at Comerica, although I suspect that would change if this was his home field.
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It’s one of a number of options. If I had to choose between Dunn and Martinez, all things being equal, I’d take Victor. He brings more to the table.
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–Rich

Cry me a river, Aubrey Huff. Like Jekyll & Hyde.

Pretty neat watching these SF Giant players in that dugout, Texas too. The camraderie is undeniable—it’s called CHEMISTRY. Something JL admits his team doesn’t have by saying it “doesn’t exist”
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My feeling for the team next year at this point is they will make some attempts to improve the roster but will fall short of “going for it”. There will be a major signing (let’s face it the called Damon major) and a couple of stop gap hope & dream ones.
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I still say keeping Inge means they are deluding themselves once again. His position is an opportunity to really come up with an offensive stalwart.
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Getting Martinez would be OK but it does cause other concerns. He is injury prone, pricey, and will obviously retard Avila’s development.
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Dunn would be a big acquisition, literally. But they need more than 2 thumpers . I still say they should adjust the fences in left center. I like CF and right center. They seem to have a “personality” and a uniqueness that differentiates them from other parks. Left Center has rendered our RHB home run type hitters a little impotent.
I think Cab would benefit, Raburn and Maggs too. Trust your pitching to keep the opposition hitting to the big part of the park.
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Dunn can hit them out of anywhere.
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I still maintain that Crawford would be a better acquisition than Dunn. But then we need to acquire power still.
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As to VMart–I don’t think he fits that well here. The injuries, the playing time, the defense and as Rich says, his history at Comerica too.
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I’d be keeping an eye on Rasmus especially given they will likely not go after Crawford.
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I’d actually like to see Jeter here. Especially if they are able to actually improve this club elsewhere where it is sorely needed. LHP starter, tier 1 reliever, power hitter. His leadership would be real, not phony like Damon’s.
Maybe then Worth or Iorg will be ready the following year.
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I know I’m getting a little far-fetched here. Can’t help myself!

I’m really hoping this is pure talk. We don’t need another slow & below average defensive player. This guy will be a DH by 2012 and maybe as early as next year. Sure he is a good hitter but has only average power. This would be a tremendous waste of money.
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Signing these limited tool players has to stop. The Tigers play at Comerica Park not Tiger Stadium. The slug & trot theme may have worked at the old Tiger Stadium but pitching, speed, & defense will win at Comerica. This team needs an overhaul in it’s philosophy. They need natural athletes with speed and above average defensive skills.
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Carl Crawford is the spitting image of exactly the type of player the Tigers should be courting. I realize he won’t come cheap and they still need a basher but a “game changer” is sorely needed. He would change the entire offense as him along with Jackson & Rhymes could wreak havoc on the basepaths despite JL.
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On that note. How many of Jackson’s steals from last year do you think JL called for? I’m guessing 5 or less. The rest was simply AJax reading the pitcher & reacting. Not bad for a rookie. We need more players like AJax and less players like Guillen.
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Oh and we need to bring back Maggs too. Assuming we have enough money left. I don’t like Raburn as an everday player. I would much prefer we trade the guy before other teams realize that Ryan isn’t that good. Plus JL would have to find another player to have a “man crush” on.
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Joe

The Tigers declined the option on Magglio Ordonez. They haven’t said anything final on Jhonny Peralta’s option, though there are rumblings they will not pick up if they can’t work out a deal. They have until three days after the World Series ends to decide that, and it might go down to that last day.

i think that it was unreasonable to resign inge because of his lack of offense. therefore i believe prellota would be a better fit at shortstop with rymes at second base of course big cabbie at first base. in the outfield i think we should have jackson crawford in left with raburn in right. Get rid of guillen and ordenez there to injury prone and go for marteniz for catcher and dunn or berkmann at Dh. and get some pitching. bondermann and giargia need to go there to inconsistant make coke a starter and get the bullpenn revamped with more experience. some of these young guys are not anwser for holding leads for velderde

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