The Pittsburgh Pirates signed catcher Russell Martin Thursday night to a two-year, $17 million deal, pleasing some Pirates’ fans and angering plenty of others.
Personally I don’t have any problem with the deal. The club needed a catcher and Martin was one of the best in a thin market.
People will point to the fact that he hit .211 last season, but his overall line and power is much better than anything the Pirates had or currently have at the position. It was a hole that needed filled and Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington did his best to fill that glaring hole.
A hole that wouldn’t be there had the Pirates drafted Matt Wieters in 2007.
It’s been five years since then general manager Dave Littlefield made the cost saving move of drafting Daniel Moskos with the No. 4 overall pick, one spot ahead of Wieters who went to the Baltimore Orioles.
I hate to keep going back to this, but when you are a frugal team in terms of spending, you can’t afford mistakes like that. Many people said at the time that the Bucs would be paying for passing on Wieters for years and that’s certainly still the case.
The fourth year pro has made the American League All-Star team the past two seasons and has a pair of Gold Glove wards already on his resume.
In that span, the Pirates have had the likes of: Rod Barajas, Michael McKenry, Eric Fryer, Ryan Doumit, Matt Pagnozzi, Chris Snyder, Jason Jaramilio, Dusty Brown, Wyatt Toregas, Eric Kratz and Robinzon Diaz all catch games at the major league level.
That brings me to Martin who received the largest free agent contract that Huntington has shelled out in his six years on the job.
Passing on Wieters meant drafting Tony Sanchez with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 draft. Instead of having to draft Sanchez there, that draft was littered with talented up-and-coming arms, some of which who have already made an impact in the major leagues such as Mike Leake and Drew Storen. Mike Trout also went in that first round, but you can’t fault the Bucs there as 23 other teams also passed on him.
But that’s just to illustrate the domino effect that passing on Wieters has had.
Had they solidified the position when they had the chance, the Bucs wouldn’t be playing catch up with that move for the last five years.
Instead of throwing $17 million at Martin, who is an upgrade over the previous situation, how nice would it be to use that $17 million to upgrade another hole on this team?
How about a first baseman? A shortstop? A quality arm?
You see where I’m going with this.
I hate to bring up Wieters because the organization has moved on since then, but it just goes to show how team’s like the Pirates simply can’t make mistakes when it comes to the draft.
If they do, they end up paying for them years down the road.