Detroit Tigers – What’s Wrong With Victor Martinez?
By Steve Mitzel
What’s wrong with one of our favorite Detroit Tigers – Victor Martinez (aptly subtitled Brad Ausmus are you listening?)
I love Victor Martinez and absolutely agreed with Dave Dombrowski’s resigning of the big hitter. The pundits say we shouldn’t have signed him because of his age, his injury history and Nelson Cruz was available. I completely and totally disagree.
BUT, this is NOT your grandfather’s Victor Martinez. This is a hobbled, injured version of our five time All Star, 2014 second place MVP candidate.
Last year he was superman and was completely unstoppable. He hit .335, 33 home runs, 103 RBI’s. In 2013 after recovering from his season off he hit .301, 14 home runs and 83 RBI’s.
But who remembers 2013? With our gnat like attention spans, Twitter feed personalities we are always off to the next thing.
I’ll remind you of the Victor Martinez in 2013. It was the tale of two halves – the best of times and the worst of times. He started off SO SLOW! He hit .232 through June. In his first 44 appearances in 2013 he hit .132 with 3 RBI’s. Much like now, the sports talk show hosts and the fans are screaming to bench V Mart, he’s old, our money’s being wasted.
What’s different about his resurrection in 2013? A LOT!
First, Victor Martinez had an entire season at 34 years old to recover from his ACL reconstruction surgery. It could be argued that he was shaking off the cobwebs of not playing competitively for an entire year and once his engine started to fire, he was rolling.
Second, his manager was Jim Leyland. Leyland was a master at protecting his players and putting them in positions to succeed. He rested them when needed and he would mix it up if it was necessary. Brad Ausmus is showing signs that he not only is afraid to challenge his veterans but he could be the most stubborn leader since Colonel Klink. The message he is sending to the team and V Mart is “stick it out and it will be fine” Ausmus is dead set on keeping him where he is in the lineup and confident he’ll just come around. Sound a little like how he treated Joe Nathan? We all know how that worked out.
Third, Victor Martinez rushed back quickly from a significant injury. He tore the meniscus in his knee in February and was playing in April. Ever tear a meniscus? I have. And while I may not be a professional baseball player, it takes a while to recover. With so much pressure to win this season, the Tigers just might be doing not only Victor a disservice in rushing him back but the entire team.
In analyzing Martinez’s stats, there’s nothing that sticks out much more than he is striking out a bit more than average and his power seems to be lacking. These are indicators that he is having a hard time with the injury. There is clearly something off with Victor He looks uncomfortable and if it were at all possible, he is moving slower.
Victor needs his manager to help him right now instead of pressuring him. Give him a break in the lineup. As the MCB staff has written tweeted and talked about on podcasts – let someone else take the burden of cleanup until Victor can get his swing back. Victor also needs some time off. He should not be a day to day player. The obvious lack of depth in the bench is forcing this, but this is a team effort and sometimes this is when you find a young player that steps up and can participate.
4 years, $68 million. Is that what this is about? Squeezing the asset of Victor Martinez. I certainly hope not. It doesn’t take much of an expert to know that our beloved slugger needs some help.
Can he pull the resurrection of 2013 off again? The Tigers need him to, but he needs help getting there this time.