Free Agent Additions Russell Martin and Mark Prior Will Save the Yankees
In an off-season arms race to load up with the best possible talent, you can’t help but get the feeling the New York Yankees are getting lapped worse than the fat kid in P.E. class. We said they had to respond to the Red Sox’s brilliant moves by signing Cliff Lee but the Phillies stepped in and pulled off the shocker. While the Phils have loaded up with Lee and the Red Sox are stocked with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Yankees reportedly have packaged the likes of Russell Martin and Mark Prior under the Christmas trees of Yankees fans. Yay, I guess?
Russell Martin is a 27-year-old catcher who can also serve as a utility man in the infield. He’s a two-time All-Star who was a dynamo his first three years with the Dodgers making fans forget about Paul Lo something or other, but he dropped off significantly after that. Demanding to catch more games than is typical for a catcher, Martin burnt himself out in the second half of every single season. It finally caught up to him the past two years as he posted a pedestrian .680 OPS.
As if his humongous dropoffs aren’t bad enough, Martin is also coming back from hip surgery. That must be comforting news for a guy whose job is to crouch and get back up 150 times a night. And for this assortment of problems, the Yankees reportedly are planning to pay slightly over $4 million.
The only thing overshadowing the $4 million the Yankees are about to waste on Martin is the money they’ve thrown to Mark Prior. Yes, that Mark Prior. As I learned through MLB Trade Rumors, the Yanks have extended Prior a Spring Training invitation and the pitcher will earn $750,000 if he makes the team. The Padres recently tried the same experiment but ran out of glue to put Humpty Dumpty back together and quickly realized they were wasting their money.
As dominant as Prior was with the Cubs, and to a greater extent in college at USC, the guy simply is ineffective because of too many injuries. It’s sad but it’s true — Prior never sustained the brilliance we saw from him early on because he kept getting hurt. That’s not changing anytime too soon.