After five seasons behind the dish for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Russell Martin signed a lucrative one-year contract to suit up as the catcher for the New York Yankees.
Martin became the face of the franchise over the past few seasons for the Dodgers. Though injuries plagued him in 2010, Martin still established himself as one of the top backstops in the game.
Here are 10 reasons why the Dodgers will miss Martin in 2011.
It’s tough to call a player who only has five years of experience a veteran. But Martin has played in so many games and has seen so many different things, that he qualifies.
Besides Casey Blake, the Dodgers will lack a long-term veteran presence in their lineup. Yes they have Andre Either, Matt Kemp, and James Loney, but these youngsters have only scratched the surface of their potential.
Martin, coupled with Blake, would have been good influences over this still developing team.
I’m sure Martin is itching to get back on the field this spring training after playing in a career-low 97 games last season.
Martin has always brought passion and fire to his game. He wasn’t afraid to barrel over a catcher, even though he was a catcher. He also let the umpires have a piece of his mind on several occasions.
He’s the type of player that would play with a broken leg if the doctors didn’t hold him back. This energy will be sorely missed by LA.
If you throw out last season, Martin caught at least 135+ games in three straight seasons. Not too many catchers in the game today can say that.
In 2008, he caught a remarkable 149 games. With the way some of the players are babied these days, that number is unheard of.
The Dodgers will rely more on a catcher-by-committee scheme, rather than simply penciling in Martin's name to the lineup everyday.
Martin will be 28 heading into this season.
At the trade deadline last season, the Dodgers picked up 35-year-old Rod Barajas off waivers from the New York Mets. Barajas actually played well for LA, hitting .297 down the stretch.
However, the reason Barajas was even available was due to a horrific stint with the Mets. Barajas was the team’s best hitter in April and May, but completely tanked in June and July.
Martin at least gave the Dodgers some consistency at the plate.
Martin was a wall behind the plate for the Dodgers.
He won a Gold Glove in 2007 and threw out 33 percent of would-be base stealers.
His defense was as important a part of his game as his offense.
In addition to Barajas, the Dodgers brought in Dioner Navarro, and already had youngster A.J. Ellis, both of whom should see some time behind the plate this year.
Over the last few seasons, the Dodgers have had one of the better pitching staffs in baseball.
This year they will boast a starting rotation featuring Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, and Jon Garland, all of whom posted double-digit wins last season.
Part of the reason for their success was Martin’s ability to call a game. He always seemed to be on the same page as his pitcher, and thus they were able to work efficiently together.
Martin’s career OBP is .365.
Most games, Martin batted second in the Dodgers’ lineup, so having a high OBP allowed the Dodgers to create many scoring changes for the middle of their lineup.
This season, it is likely that newly-signed second baseman Juan Uribe will assume the No. 2 spot in the order. Uribe is notorious for swinging for the fences, which is not something a No. 2 hitter should be concerned with.
Uribe has posted a .300 career OBP, which is a huge drop-off from Martin.
The Dodgers would be wise to use James Loney in the two-hole. He at least has a .348 career OBP.
Most often, speed is not exactly an attribute that describes many catchers.
However, when healthy, Martin’s above-average speed allowed him to make things happen on the base paths.
He averaged 16 stolen bases per season. Believe me, the Dodgers will not be getting that out of Barajas.
Martin is the rare breed of catcher who can steal as many bases as he prevents throughout the course of a season.
Martin started in both the 2007 and 2008 All-Star games for the National League.
Only Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier have been selected to an All-Star game out of the position players on the Dodgers’ roster.
In Martin’s five year career, the Dodgers have made the playoffs three times.
In back-to-back years, the team reached the NLCS, but lost both times to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Some important cogs still remain from those playoff teams, but none as important as Martin.