Russell Martin: Cubs vs. Dodgers?


I’ve been wanting to write about the Russell Martin situation. Just never had gotten a chance what with all the awards, being at Fall Ball, and Zito and Jose Canseco shooting his finger off? How am I supposed to do some sort of commentary on a catcher? 

Just kidding! I have been busy but I know that the catcher is probably the most important defensive position on the field. A catcher can see everything that is going on on the field at all times and must keep the team aware as well.

Personally that is why I think that a catcher like Russell Martin would be the perfect edition to the Chicago Cubs. A young team could greatly benefit from a veteran starting catcher who is coming off of a career year both offensively and defensively.

Martin hit .290 with 11 home runs, 67 RBI and 20 doubles in 2014. That’s insane coming from a position that isn’t usually expected to produce a ton of offense.

According to FanGraphs, Martin was ranked the fifth best defensive catcher in baseball. He led the league in 2014 in Defensive Runs Saved with 12. Martin ranked 5th again in all of baseball when it came to pitch framing.

Solid player, easily the best available catcher on the free agent market and a perfect fit for the Cubbies. There’s one little problem and that is the Los Angeles Dodgers and their seemingly endless stream of money.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes,

“The Dodgers, like the old Yankees, always seem to get what they want and now have a new president of baseball operations in Andrew Friedman with money to spend and a mandate to win the World Series now.”

The Dodgers could obviously use the upgrade at catcher offensively. A.J. Ellis hit just .191 last season. That said, the 2014 National League Cy Young Award winner and N.L. MVP Clayton Kershaw is said to have an affinity towards him.

A.J. Ellis. Getty Images.

A.J. Ellis. Getty Images.

Also, think about what Ellis did to encourage Josh Beckett use his curveball as his strikeout pitch and Beckett pitched his first career no-hitter at the age of 34 and just prior to being forced into early retirement due to injury.

There is a likely chance that the Dodgers may stick with Ellis. He’s had success and seriously, is president of baseball operations Andrew Freidman really going to argue with the current N.L. Cy Young Award winner and reigning MVP? 

According to new general manager Farhan Zaidi, the team is keeping Kershaw’s preferences in mind, as well as how important Ellis is to the other pitchers.

“He’s a leader on this team, he has relationships with his pitching staff and we’re very mindful of that,” Zaidi said, “That has been part of our process, understanding the dynamics of our relationship. He’s a big part of this team and a big part of the preparation and comfort level for the pitchers.”

Still if Freidman says, “go” and the Dodgers make Martin an offer he can’t refuse, then the Cubs could miss out on one of the few missing pieces it will take to complete their new contending team.

I guess we’ll all have to wait and see. Obviously I am on the Cubs side on this one. I think Martin is a better fit in Chicago and I think the Dodgers need Ellis’ leadership and expertise.

Hopefully the status quo will remain and there will be no battle between Los Angeles and Chicago.