There isn’t all that much new I could tell you about Russell Martin. We have all been lucky enough to get to watch him, over the last couple of years.
As noted during Sunday’s GameThread, Martin was second in the AL for innings caught. He caught 1069 innings, Salvador Perez led AL catchers with 1106 innings (there were four NL catchers who also caught more innings than Martin). I thought that we were giving Martin a fair bit of time off, but apparently not more than anyone else got, and less time than most.
One of the ways that baseball has changed, in my lifetime, is they are smarter about giving catchers days off. They realize how tough it is on a person’s knees to catch every day. My Expos would play Gary Carter 155 games a year, and, of course, by the time he was the age Russell is now, his knees were so bad he was pretty much finished as a full-time catcher. Of course, by then the Expos no longer owned him, so saving him his knees for future wasn’t in their self-interest.
Martin looks like he has come into camp a fair bit lighter than last year,which is a good thing. Squatting a couple of hundred times a game, taking any stress off his knees is a good thing.
Last year, Martin’s ability to throw out base stealers seemed to disappear. After throwing out 44% in 2015, he only threw out 15% last year. He had a very impressive throw to catch a runner Sunday. Russell seems like the sort that would work hard to fix something like that. I don’t know why he was having so much more trouble with base stealers. Maybe it had something to do with his knees. If you have knee troubles, it would be harder to pop up out of the squat and make a strong throw.
Russell’s other change, between 2015 and 2016, is his strikeout rate. It took a huge jump, going from 20.9% to 27.7. That might be harder to fix, but, perhaps that had something to do with his knee troubles too.
PECOTA figures Martin to have 558 PA and a .236/.337/.407 line with 19 home runs. ZiPS 462 PA and a .233/.334/.410 line with 18 home runs. Russell had 535 PA last year, I have a hard time believing he’ll get up to 558 PA,
Martin is 34 now and we owe him $20 million for this season and each of the next two after that. Odds are we’ll be overpaying for at least one of those seasons.
Martin is taking a few days away from the Jays camp to help with the Canada’s WBC team. I think it is a good idea to limit his spring training innings. It isn’t like he’s trying to make the team. I have a feeling he would make a good coach or manager, after his playing days are done. But, with all the money he’ll have in the bank, I don’t know if how much incentive he would have to take a huge pay cut to coach.