The news hit me hard, real hard.
How could a baseball team suffer this much pain? Would the sport of baseball ever be able to recover from this? Will the integrity of the game be tarnished for good?
Days earlier, Ryan Braun, a rising young star in MLB was suspended for the remaining 65 games of the season for “unspecified violations of baseball’s drug rules and labor contract.”
Wait. You thought I was talking about him? No, no, no. I’m talking about the news that Michael “Babe Ruth” Martinez had his contract selected by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro and is now a member of the 25-man roster … again! What’s the big deal, you ask? I’ve come up with a brief FAQ sheet that should help clear up why this is such a poor (yet not surprising) decision by the former 1993 Philadelphia Phillies’ utility player (aka Ruin Tomorrow – tip of the hat to Philly.com for that one).
Q: Who is Michael Martinez?
A: He’s 31 years old, holds a career .186 batting average, and is by Major League Baseball standards a below-average fielder.
Q: The Phillies aren’t going anywhere this year. Aren’t there younger players in the Phillies’ minor league system that could benefit from some extra playing time?
A: There sure are. Freddy Galvis (23 years old) and Cesar Hernandez (22 years old) are both playing second base for the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Cesar Hernandez has also stolen 30 bases in 36 attempts while hitting .316 in 89 games. In 2012, he hit 12 triples at Lehigh Valley in 133 games while batting .291. But who wants an infielder on a major league team with that kind of crappy production.
Q: Michael Martinez made the majors via the Rule V draft. Wasn’t former Phils’ All Star Shane Victorino a Rule V draft selection too?
A: So was David Herndon. I rest my case.
Q: Martinez is an infielder. So why was he playing CF against St. Louis?
A: Excellent question. Because the team is missing Ben Revere in centerfield for the foreseeable future, Amaro could have done the smart thing and brought up centerfielder Jermaine Mitchell. Sure he’s only hitting .258, but he does have 17 stolen bases in 23 attempts. What’s the worst that happens? He stinks and you send him back down. What’s the best that happens? He performs so well that he earns a spot on the big club when rosters expand in September, and maybe he gets an invite to Spring Training next season.
The Phillies are not making the postseason this year, even in a weak National League East, even with two wild card spots up for grabs. If they don’t start bringing up the young guys, guys like Galvis, Hernandez, Mitchell, and third baseman Cody Asche, astute fans like myself are going to think the organization is trying to cover up just how bad the minor league talent really is. The Philies’ minor league talent might not be that bad, but that’s how Phillies’ fans will perceive this situation.
Bottom line: I don’t trust Ruben Amaro to accurately judge the talent for a high school talent show, let alone to discern a team’s strengths from its weaknesses, or the wants from the needs of a multi-billion-dollar major league franchise. He got us into this mess and he’s surely not the one to get us out of it.