In a way, Martinez represents the Mets perfectly. Signed during the much-maligned Omar Minaya era, Martinez inked a $1.4 million contract as a 16-year-old despite not being eligible to play until he turned 18.
The club signed Martinez at the same time as fellow teen Deolis Guerra, living up to the promise that they would be active in the international market. The two players were regarded as the top Latin American prospects on the market. Neither made it big.
F-Mart was considered among the team's elite young "can't miss" stars. A Newsday report from back in 2006 had a Mets insider saying there was "no way" the club would move Martinez—or Jose Reyes, David Wright, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, Aaron Heilman, Mike Pelfrey or Phil Humber—for a front-end starter like Dontrelle Willis or Barry Zito.
Only David Wright and Mike Pelfrey now remain from this group, although some people have speculated that Wright will soon be on his way out, too, and that Pelfrey doesn't deserve a job in anybody's rotation.
Martinez was considered a five-tool prospect, but his star began to lack luster almost immediately and failed to shine at all by the end of 2011. There are only so many second chances you can give a guy, even someone who is still only 23.
Part of me wanted the club to hold onto Martinez, especially with the Mets officially in rebuilding mode. But the more realistic side of me knew that this was an inevitability, if not this winter then early in the season once he went down again.
As a pro, Martinez was hampered by injuries that ultimately led to his fall from grace. He played just 60 games with the Double-A Binghamton Mets in 2007 because of a hand injury, and he made only 86 appearances in the Eastern League the following year because of a problem with his right hamstring.
In 2009, it was a right knee injury that sent him to the disabled list. In 2010, it was back pain and the other hamstring. Last year a sprained wrist shut him down.
In six seasons of pro ball, Martinez never managed more than 90 games in any one year. That is almost all you need to know.
That five-tool prospect the Mets thought they had on their hands never hit .300 over the course of a season, never stole more than eight bases and only hit more than 10 homers once. In his major league career, he hit .183 with 24 hits and 26 strikeouts in 47 games over three different years.
I wish you well, Fernando, but it wasn't meant to be.
It's fitting, perhaps, that one of the most inept GMs in franchise history overpaid for a player who was ineligible to play, only to watch this player become so banged up that he was nearly always unable to play. The GM then gets fired and, never living up to any of the hype, the player gets waived 15 months later to make room for backup minor league infield depth.
So many players in Mets history have not lived up to the hype: Barry Lyons, Grant Roberts, Steve Chilcott, Alex Escobar, Gregg Jeffries...now a new generation can add Martinez to that list.