Russell Martin: A Fit For The Mets?

At this point, I’m sure everybody is aware that Russell Martin has been non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Russell Martin, for a short while, was a highly respected catcher down in LA where he posted strong offensive numbers from the C position. Considering, in a humorous regard, that the Mets do have a recent tendency to take successful Dodger Catchers – Lo Duca and Piazza, and the possibility of a fit was discussed within the Mets fan base. Would Martin be a fit for the Mets? …Probably not.

First off, the last reported offer to the young backstop, who’s merely 27, was about 5 MM with 1 MM in incentives. That alone is probably more than the Mets plan to spend on a catcher since they plan to start Thole this season anyway. If they are going to find any money in the budget to sign a catcher, they are going to sign a veteran catcher like a Henry Blanco or Gregg Zaun to mentor Thole as he grows in the C position.

In addition to the fact that Martin does not fit what the Mets are looking for anyway – there’s no clear cut reason that Martin would be an improvement over what we have in the system already. Thole is by far not a HR hitter but Martin has fallen from his previous All-Star selections. In 2007, Martin posted his best year: 19 HR/87 RBI/21 SB/.374 OBP/.843 OPS. I’d sign up for that from the C position any day. Of course, Martin is no longer at that level of production. In 2009, Martin fell to a mere .680 OPS over 588 PA and posted a similar .679 OPS last year – albeit limited by injury. In an even smaller sample size, Thole’s OPS was .723 last year.

And there in lies another problem – Martin’s coming off a serious hip injury. He has yet to start running nor sit in a catcher’s crouch so there’s no reason to believe he’ll even be ready for next season. With or without injury, Martin has not come close to lighting the world on fire in a long time.

So there it is. Dispel the rumors, kill the idea – Russell Martin should not be a Met.