Victor Martinez Rumors

Quick Hits: Johnson, Tigers, Kouzmanoff

With the first round of the 2011 draft in the rear view mirror, let's take a look at a few links..

  • Slugger Nick Johnson was in the Indians' clubhouse before tonight's game against the Twins, but skipper Manny Acta says that it doesn't mean that we'll see the veteran promoted to the majors, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.  Instead, the first baseman will be promoted from Double-A Akron to Triple-A Columbus.
  • Because of their signing of Victor Martinez, the Tigers were without a first round pick tonight.  Six months later, Tigers VP David Chadd has no regrets, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck.  The club wound up surrendering the No. 19 overall pick to the Red Sox, who used the pick to take UConn pitcher Matt Barnes.
  • Athletics third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was shocked to learn of his demotion to Triple-A tonight, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com.  

AL East Notes: Orioles, Martinez, Lowe, Posada

Hector Noesi got his first MLB win in unconventional fashion yesterday, pitching in and out of trouble through four innings of scoreless relief against the Orioles. Here’s the latest on the Yankees, the O’s and their division rivals after a bizarre game in Baltimore…


Red Sox Notes: Matsuzaka, Lackey, Martinez

On this date nine years ago, Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez disposed of the Mariners in the first inning by striking out the side on nine pitches. Today, the outlook isn't nearly as rosy for Boston, which is above .500 for the first time this year. Here's the latest: 

  • The Red Sox announced that Daisuke Matsuzaka experienced elbow tightness during his last start. An MRI confirmed that the right-hander appears to have a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strain to his common flexor mass. The Red Sox will re-examine him in two weeks.
  • Boston's other injured starter, John Lackey, received a cortisone shot in his right pitching elbow, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (on Twitter). 
  • Tonight, Victor Martinez returns to Fenway Park for the first time this season. Back in March, Alex Speier of WEEI.com explained that the Red Sox didn't offer V-Mart more than $42MM in guaranteed money, but believed he would have returned if they had matched the Tigers' $50MM offer.
  • Peter Gammons weighed in on all things Red Sox earlier today.


Quick Hits: D’Backs, Martinez, Killebrew

Links for Tuesday night, after a memorable two-homer day for Brian McCann…  

  • Former D'Backs manager Bob Melvin has returned to the organization as a special baseball advisor, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
  • Patrick Newman of FanGraphs checks in on some former Major Leaguers who are now playing in Japan.
  • Victor Martinez told MLB.com's Jason Beck that he has no hard feelings toward his former team, the Red Sox. "I have nothing but great things to say about the organization, the city, the fans," Martinez said. "It was one of my great experiences in my big league career." Tomorrow Martinez returns to Boston for the first time since signing with the Tigers.
  • Paul Molitor told Jim Caple of ESPN.com that he grew up idolizing fellow Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who passed away today. For more reflections on the popular "lumberjack type" slugger, check out Caple's piece.

Avila’s Hot Start Gives Tigers Depth At Catcher

Whether you look at home runs (6) and RBI (23) or wins above replacement (1.0) and wOBA (.387) you’ll see Alex Avila’s name all over early season leaderboards. He has thrown out 12 of 33 would-be base stealers so far this year (36%) and the most recent of his six home runs came when he was navigating Justin Verlander through nine no-hit innings on Saturday.

“That was definitely nice. It’s the best of both worlds,” Avila told MLBTR this weekend. “I was joking with Justin that four of my six home runs are when he’s pitching. It seems that when he’s pitching, I’m going to hit one out.”

Avila

A 5th round pick in 2008, Avila is the son of Tigers assistant GM Al Avila. He hit .228/.316/.340 and threw out 32% of would-be base stealers as Detroit's primary catcher in 2010. This year, he’s feeling more comfortable as a hitter and as a defender.

“When you first come up, there’s always an adjustment period, a time when you’ve got to learn and figure out how to not only catch, but hit in the big leagues and the experience definitely helps,” Avila said. “You learn more about yourself and the league and make adjustments from there.”

The Tigers aren’t expecting Avila to continue at his current 28-homer pace, but the front office believes he can continue to be a valuable everyday catcher – and his father’s not the only one who thinks so.

“He has a nice left-handed swing,” GM Dave Dombrowski said. “We think he can hit.”

Avila’s new teammate, Victor Martinez, is one of baseball’s best hitting catchers, having reached the 20-homer plateau five times in the past seven seasons. Though the Tigers don’t plan on asking Martinez to catch more than a couple times per week, he has still helped Avila develop as a backstop.

“Absolutely,” Avila said. “Victor has helped me a ton with both aspects of my game. He’s such a positive person and generous with his time. He’s just fantastic.”

It's still too early to assume the 24-year-old Avila will continue hitting at this rate. But at this point, it appears that the Tigers have a pair of quality catchers thanks to his development.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Tigers Notes: Leyland, Martinez, Boesch

Max Scherzer led the Tigers past the Yankees with eight innings of shutout ball yesterday, striking out nine along the way. It was the second consecutive win for the Tigers, who already trail the Indians by 7.0 games in the AL Central. Here's the latest out of Detroit…


Orioles Notes: Martinez, Wieters, Jones

The Orioles will attempt to recover from their first loss of the season tonight when they face Brad Penny and the Tigers. In the meantime, here are some links…

  • Victor Martinez tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he appreciated the Orioles' interest in him this offseason, when they offered $48MM over four years to become their first baseman. "It was a pretty tough decision," Martinez said. Instead, he signed with the Tigers for $50MM.
  • Orioles pitching coach Mark Connor told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that catcher Matt Wieters is "by far the most amazing 'feel' guy at that age" he has ever seen. Wieters' tempo and game-calling are impressing the Orioles. Those skills were a big reason the Orioles weren't interested in Martinez as a catcher.
  • Peter Schmuck of the Sun isn't looking to nitpick, but he says Adam Jones' approach at the plate is one potential area of concern for the Orioles early on.
  • After a surprising 4-1 start thanks to their impressive pitching, the Orioles are 15th on WEEI.com's power rankings.

AL East Notes: Martinez, Crawford, Sanchez

Daisuke Matsuzaka had his best outing of the spring against the Tigers today, allowing two hits and a walk in five scoreless innings, striking out five. Here's the latest on the AL East, as the Red Sox and their fans gain a little confidence in the back of their rotation…

  • Victor Martinez, who was playing against his former team this afternoon, told the Boston Herald that he "loved" Boston and has no hard feelings toward the Red Sox. V-Mart added that he thinks the Red Sox are offseason winners because they improved their pitching and offense.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com wonders what might have happened if the Red Sox had re-signed Martinez. A team source tells Speier that the Red Sox thought there was a chance the backstop would return. But as we heard earlier in the offseason, the Red Sox had doubts about Martinez's ability to catch long-term.
  • If Martinez had returned, Speier hears that the Red Sox would have had the resources to pursue either Carl Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez, but not both.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Yankees right-hander Romulo Sanchez has been impressing scouts (Twitter link). The out-of-options 26-year-old could fit on a team looking for relief help, according to Rosenthal.

Two Carl Crawford Deals That Could Have Been

Boston offered Victor Martinez to Tampa Bay for Carl Crawford before the 2010 season, according to Tom Verducci of SI.com. Though the Rays were open to the deal, they told the Red Sox they’d have to pursue other trades to make the swap work. Tampa Bay’s secondary moves fell through, so Crawford and Martinez stayed put.

The Red Sox weren't the only AL East team with interest in Crawford, but they showed considerably more interest than the Yankees. Crawford told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he doesn't think the Yankees were seriously interested in his services last winter when he hit free agency. “If the Yankees want somebody they go out and get them, don’t they?,” Crawford asked. Cliff Lee notwithstanding, he has a point.


Cafardo On Gonzalez, V-Mart, Rangers, Nishioka

Let's take a look at the latest from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe….

  • Cafardo suggests the money the Red Sox could have spent on Victor Martinez may be used to make a bigger splash. He speculates that splash could involve trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing him to an extension, but ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider-only link) still expects the Padres to begin the 2011 season with Gonzalez on their roster.
  • One National League GM on Boston deciding not to match the Tigers' offer for Martinez: "He really rakes lefthanded pitching. That was the strange thing about the Red Sox for me — that in a division where there are so many good lefthanded pitchers, Martinez hit them at a .400 clip [in 2010]. Big, big loss for the Red Sox."
  • One option the Rangers are discussing internally, in the event they can't sign Cliff Lee, is moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation and signing a closer such as Rafael Soriano.
  • Olney reported earlier this week that rival executives view the Rangers as the team with the best shot at acquiring Zack Greinke. Cafardo hears the same thing, noting that Engel Beltre is "often mentioned as trade bait."
  • As we heard when the Twins won the bidding for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Red Sox were also involved. According to Cafardo, Boston's bid was about $2.3MM, and their interest in the Japanese shortstop was "marginal." With Jed Lowrie and Jose Iglesias already in the organization, Nishioka didn't make a ton of sense for the club.
  • Cafardo expects the Padres, Red Sox, or Indians to hire Josh Byrnes in the near future.