From what I understand, the trade was difficult for Victor Martinez, who has spent his entire adult life as an Indian – from the day of his signing as a 17-year-old kid in Venezuela to the day before he was scheduled to have a Victor Martinez bobblehead night. However, Boston wanted a bit more offense and some lineup flexibility – and the switch hitting Martinez offers that.
Boston Gets: Options, though I happen to agree with FoxSports Jon Paul Morosi – the biggest challenge will be how to mix and match Martinez among modern Boston legends Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, and David Ortiz – as well as the newly acquired defensive replacement Casey Kotchman. Martinez is under contract for another year and Varitek is no longer a productive hitter at the bottom of the lineup. Of course, Varitek is still more than sound behind the plate and his pitchers love him. Anyway – expect Varitek, Ortiz, and Lowell to lose at bats. However, if Victor can handle leaving his home and hits the way he is supposed to, winning will take care of sharing lineup spots.
Cleveland Gets: Pitching. Justin Masterson is already a successful reliever and spot starter – and Cleveland can use some live arms. With Lee leaving, Masterson may wind up in the rotation for a few weeks to see if he can handle the grind. If not, he’s still a valuable reliever – an option in the eighth inning and possibly a future closer. Nick Hagadone was a first round pick in 2007, and while he’s been the starting pitcher when used, he’s rarely making four innings in his starts. What is impressive is that his career ERA in the minors is under 2.00 and he has a 3:1 K/W ratio – with 75 Ks in 56.1 innings. Obviously, Hagadone is two to three years away, but you have to like first impressions. Bryan Price was a first round pick a year ago and has moved up to AA already – a sign that he has great stuff. Another pitcher with good control and a great K/9 rate, he hasn’t been as successul in the minors despite racing through A and A+ levels very quickly. Price is also a couple of years away, but he’s great.
Winner? Hard to say. Cleveland got two recent first round picks who are moving in the right direction and someone who can play now. Whether Masterson and the rest can have long enough (and successful enough) careers moving forward is still an open question, but I think that the sum total of the three is greater than Victor Martinez. Boston gets a little bit of long-term value in Martinez. He’s only 30, but at the end of the season will have about 900 games under his belt. I think he’s got four years left as a productive player – and if he does that, the Sox should be pretty happy. Still, I like what Cleveland done – even if it means accepting that the last two years were disappointing failures and admitting that it’s time to start over.