Since becoming the Dodgers' full-time catcher, Russell Martin has started nearly 90% of Los Angeles' games. Yet the 27-year-old fixture behind the plate may have played his last game as a Dodger last week, something completely inconceivable just three years ago.
At just 24 years old in his first year in the league, Martin was an All-Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner while posting an .843 OPS in 2007. He was a top draft choice in fantasy leagues and thought of as a guy to build a franchise around. So it would be surreal to see a different backstop at Dodger Stadium while Martin plays what should be his prime years elsewhere.
Part one to the story is Martin's steady decline from All-World performance to a below average major league hitter. While his batted ball profile and walk rate has been almost constant for four seasons, his power has mostly disappeared, with his ISO being cut in half from his huge 2007 season. That has helped him drop from 3rd in MLB (1st in NL) in wOBA in 2007 to 18th (with 200IP) in 2010.
Part two is the financial issues facing the Dodgers in light of the McCourt divorce, of course. Martin's excessive playing time led to his standing as a Super Two player in his third year of arbitration. That means pay raise from his over $5million salary in 2010, probably between $7-8million. With Matt Kemp, Jonathan Broxton, Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier combining for $35million next year and James Loney, Hong-Chih Kuo and Russell Martin looking to increase their collective $10mil salary sizably through arbitration, the Dodgers may have to cut ties with someone somewhere. Thus, Martin has been bandied about as a potential non-tender or trade candidate.
The final aspect of the storm came together this week, as Russell Martin suffered a hip subluxation hip trying to score on a play at the plate. The injury will necessitate surgery, keeping Martin out the rest of the season and perhaps into next year.
Jon Weisman of ESPNLosAngeles points out how difficult it might be to replace Martin despite his career downslope. The tone of Sarah Morris' article after Martin's injury seems to suggest Martin may have played his last game in Dodger blue.
With Brad Ausmus retiring and Martin possibly leaving, the backstop position could see an overhaul in Los Angeles. A.J. Ellis is the only viable internal candidate, a 29-year-old with a career .200 wOBA in 32 games. We might see Ned Colletti try to follow Dan O'Dowd's blueprint of hitting the lottery with a veteran catcher in free agency.
I'll leave you with this commentary from Jon Weisman:
What a sad, unexpected ending that would be. Inside of two years ago, Martin was so important to the Dodgers in my mind that he was the only active player to get a separate chapter in my book - a great catcher, and a great Dodger. Even though he hasn't been the same the past two years, this might be the end of an era, and it shouldn't pass without notice.
Team capsules after the jump.
NL West Report
Arizona (43-69, 5th, L1, 22 GB)
Last Week: 4-3. 2-2 vs. Nationals. 2-1 vs. Padres. The Diamondbacks were in position to hand the Padres just their second series sweep of the season and first since May 14-16 against the Dodgers at Petco Park. But Mat Latos dominated while Joe Saunders failed to reprise the effectiveness from his Arizona debut.
Divisional Change: Gained one game on 1st place San Diego.
This Week: 4 game road series @ Brewers. 3 game road series @ Nationals.
News: It turns out Arizona's first round pick didn't just fail his physical. He outright flunked it at historic levels. According to Jeff Passan, Barret Loux will not only need surgery to fix a torn shoulder labrum, but there are indications he will need Tommy John surgery as well. I don't think the D-Backs will want the injuries to Brandon Webb and Jarrod Parker rolled into one arm. Yikes.
Nick Piecoro discusses the tough-sign draft picks this year that the club can allocate Loux's reported $2million bonus to. For the main SBNation site, Jim McLennan asks the question in all of this: Who is the bigger victim - Loux or the Diamondbacks?
#41 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks
Mar 09, 1987
|2010 - Dan Hudson||2-0||2||2||0||0||0||0||15.2||6||2||2||1||3||8||1.15||.57|
Daniel Hudson followed up his dominant Arizona debut with another fantastic start last week. Certainly, the D-Backs are having trouble missing Edwin Jackson, but if Hudson continues to pitch this well, he could make the fans feel fine about missing that other Dan.
Brandon Webb has officially given up on returning as a starter this year. If we see Webb in sedona red, it will be as a reliever.
As long suspected, LHP Tyler Skaggs was officially the PTBNL in the Dan Haren trade.
AZSnakePit posted their rankings of most hated teams, as voted on by the community. The Rockies are the least hated of the division rivals, while the Rays and Reds are the community's favorite AL and NL teams outside of Arizona.
The Diamondbacks retired Luis Gonzalez' #20 jersey last week, beating the Rockies to the punch of retiring a number. Interesting fact: the only Dback other than Gonzo to wear the two-oh was Jeff Suppan.
Diamondbacks' president and CEO Derrick Hall answers questions from fans in his monthly web chat. This would certainly be an excellent feature for Dan O'Dowd to consider.
Transactions: Activated OF Ryan Church, optioned IF Tony Abreu to AAA Reno and called up RHP Rafael Rodriguez.
Injuries: Reliever Juan Gutierrez was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation last Tuesday. He will be out 2-3 weeks. Brandon Webb still has no timetable for his return.
Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries
Los Angeles (58-54, 4th, W2, 7.0 GB, 5.0 GB WC)
Last Week: 4-3. 2-2 vs. Padres. 2-1 vs. Nationals.
Divisional Change: Gained one game on first-place San Diego. Gained 1.5 games in the Wild Card.
News MLBTR had a poll asking whether the Dodgers were still legitimately in the playoff race. 40% of respondents believe Los Angeles still has a shot. That would seem to suggest 40% of voters would advocate waiver trades, which the Dodgers are exploring. Paul Maholm please?
#44 / First Base / Washington Nationals
Nov 09, 1979
|2010 - Adam Dunn||111||401||65||110||28||2||30||77||50||138||0||0||.274||.362||.579|
Andre Ethier played at first base last week.
Scott Podsednik needs 41 PA to void a $2mil club option for 2011.
Ned Colletti claims he never made a call to trade Manny Ramirez, and he only talked to one team (the White Sox) on a possible Manny deal. It supposedly was not a "real offer."
Check out Eric Stephen's always excellent Week in Review if you're feeling blue.
Transactions: Optioned RHP Travis Schlichting to AAA Albuquerque. Activated and recalled RHP Ramon Troncoso. Optioned OF Xavier Paul and recalled C A.J. Ellis. LHP Jack Taschner filed for free agency. Designated OF Garrett Anderson for assignment and purchased the contract of OF Jay Gibbons. Steve Dilbeck wonders why it took so long, and Gibbons is excited for the opportunity.
Injuries: Activated OF Reed Johnson from the 15-day DL. Rafael Furcal is day-to-day with a sore back. He should be fine to return tomorrow. Russell Martin tore a labrum in his right hip. That sounds PAINFUL. He will require surgery and will be out until at least Spring Training next year, potentially throwing a wrench in Ned Colletti's budget-slashing plans this offseason. Manny Ramirez returned to baseball activities Friday and could return in 2-3 weeks, while Jeff Weaver was placed on the 15-day DL last Tuesday with left knee tendinitis.
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
San Diego (64-46, 1st, W1)
Last Week: 3-4. 2-2 @ Dodgers. 1-2 @ Diamondbacks.
Divisional Change: Despite their subpar week, the Padres extended their division lead by 0.5 games to two full games. The Rockies are in third, 6.5 games behind.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Pirates. 3 game road series @ Giants.
News: Chris Denorfia hit an "inside-the-park" home run that bounced about eight feet from home plate. It was the third inside-the-park home run by the Padres this year. It has just been that kind of year.
Ryan Ludwick was the big get at the trading deadline, but Ludwick has struggled considerably in the first eight games in a Padre uniform.
|2010 - Ryan Ludwick||8||28||4||5||1||0||0||2||3||7||0||0||.179||.250||.214|
According to Jayson Stark, the Padres initially attempted to acquire Jake Westbrook for themselves.
Paul DePodesta talks about the Padres' deadline acquisitions in his blog, adding that he believes Wynn Pelzer and Corey Kluber could pitch in the big leagues next season. Ken Rosenthal examines the trade in depth, pointing out that the Padres repeatedly pursued Ludwick after backing off Westbrook. Their early pursuits of Westbrook likely paid off in setting up a three-way deal, given Cleveland ended up receiving Padres' prospect Corey Kluber for Westbrook.
Speaking of DePodesta, he is being played by Jonah Hill in the movie version of Moneyball. The casting choice is hilarious given their respective physical appearances, but DePodesta found that of "little significance." Instead, he found the character portayed "was inaccurate and (he was) unable to convince the filmmakers to alter the depiction, DePodesta requested his name be removed from the character."
San Francisco (63-49, 2nd, L2, 2.0 GB Div, Lead WC by 0.5 Gm)
Last Week: 2-4. 1-1 @ Rockies. 1-3 @ Braves. I'm thrilled with the Giants dropping three of four in Atlanta, though it's hard not to have wanted more. After all, they "came back" without virtue of a hit in the one game they won.
Divisional Change: Lost 0.5 games to San Diego. Wild card lead has shrunk to 0.5 games. Philadelphia and St. Louis are within one game..
This Week: 4 game home series vs. Cubs. 3 game home series vs. Padres.
"We're going to play San Diego, and we're going to beat them three times. If we're going to be in first place, we're not going to look back..."
The fact that the Giants lost three of four to the Braves while scoring just eight runs didn't deter Sanchez, who added, "We are definitely going to make the playoffs."
Of course, Sanchez only has so much control playing every fifth day.
#57 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants
Nov 19, 1982
|2010 - Jonathan Sanchez||8-7||24||23||0||0||0||0||132.0||106||58||52||15||68||140||3.55||1.32|
Injuries: Dan Runzler threw a simulated game on Saturday. Activated RHP Todd Wellemeyer from the 15-day DL.