Michael Martinez is a 28 year old utility type player who came to the Phillies this year via the Rule 5 Draft from the Washington Nationals. That alone should tell you everything you need to know about him. He's no spring chicken by baseball standards, and he wasn't even worthy enough to be protected by the basement dwelling Washington Nationals.
The Rule 5 Draft was created with guys like Michael Martinez in mind. It prevents a team from stock-piling too many fringe major league players that could otherwise find playing time with another team. It's a way for a lesser team to snipe top talent from a competitor that is reluctant to put them on their 40 man roster. 1% of the time you find yourself with the next Shane Victorino or Johan Santana (both former Rule 5 picks). 99% of the time, Rule 5 guys flame out. In fact, aside from the 2008 Phillies, no team in the past decade has won a World Series with a Rule 5 guy on their roster. The 2011 Phillies... well they currently have 3 former Rule 5ers.
Coming out of Spring Training, the Phillies had a conundrum on their hand: keep their Rule 5 guy Martinez, or move on with Delwyn Young. With one of the best pitching staffs in history, they had the luxury of giving the untested Martinez a shot. And as injuries piled up, his shot came. And he failed. Writers called for his head, fans booed mercilessly, and Charlie Manuel used him sparingly. And every one of you (read: both) that read this blog know that I hated him with the power of 10,000 suns when John Mayberry Jr was held in the minors while Martinez flopped like a fish.
So now that he's strung together a few solid games, I'm hearing it: "What do you think about Michael Martinez now?" one twitter message said following his first homerun. "Michael Martinez > Placido Polanco" said a text message following his 2nd homerun. I even heard the guys from the CBS Fantasy Sports podcast questioning whether Martinez was worth a free agent pickup in mixed league formats...
So let's set the record straight once and for all:
.237 BA, .281 OBP, .339 SLG
2 HR, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 GIDP, 3 SB ( I offered to eat my sandal if he had more than 2 SBs so technically I still need to chew on my reefs, but I'm still underwhelmed.)
He's played 5 positions with only 1 error and only makes $414K.
If that's better than Placido Polanco, then I'll wash down my flip flop by sticking my hat in a blender and drinking it. He's had a cute little 7 game hitting streak (only 2 of which were multi-hit games). He's raised his BA almost 50 points this month, but that's not really that impressive when you start around .180. For the better part of the season his OBP outpaced his SLG%. Take a second to think about just how sad that statement is... Truth be told, you can shake a tree in any Midwestern baseball junior college and find a guy that can replicate what Michael Martinez does. He's Wilson Valdez 5 years younger. He has no power. He can't hit gaps (only 6 XBH). He's not particularly quick. He plays admirable defense with a plus arm from a number of positions on the diamond. Name me one other major league team that has two Wilson Valdez-es. Michael Martinez IS a lesser player than Tadahito Iguchi, Miguel Cairo, Eric Bruntlett, and the whole host of utility guys the Phillies have rode to 4 straight division championships. All of them have been reliable defenders, all of them cost pennies on the dollar, and all of them had their moments. But none of them held a roster position that was as heavily contested as Martinez's. His place on this team is protected only by injuries to infielders. Should Placido Polanco come back and the infield remain healthy, Martinez will go back to being the 4th or 5th option off the bench. And that's a perfect job for him... on another team.
Michael Martinez is a great role player, but we already have a Wilson Valdez and he can when in a bind. What can you do Mini-Mart?