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Should the A’s Put a Claim on Fernando Martinez?

January 11, 2012

I strongly opposed the Coco Crisp signing. I felt that Oakland was better off investing in 4A type players who could fill the void should a prospect fall flat and need to regain confidence via a trip to Sacramento. Furthermore the advance of a 4A type player is that some actually break out and become useful pieces to an MLB club. Recently the Mets placed one such player on waivers. While not quite a 4A player yet, Fernando Martinez has failed to live up to expectations even at Triple-A with a .265/.326/.465 slash line with the Buffalo Bisons the past three seasons, he was once a very highly-regarded prospect having entered 2008 as Baseball America’s #20 ranked prospect in all of baseball, falling to #77 before 2010 before dropping off the Top 100 entirely prior to 2011 still cracking the Mets’ top prospects at #8 on that sub-list. He has battled injuries which have effectively derailed his development, as Chris Cwik appropriately wrote in a piece on FanGraphs,

“What we have here is a classic case of injuries playing havoc on a player’s development. Martinez was supposed to hit for average and develop power as he got older, but he hasn’t stayed healthy during his career. Martinez’s career high in plate appearances during one season is just 400 — and that was way back in 2008. Martinez has lost so much developmental time due to injuries that it’s unclear whether he’ll ever develop those traits. That uncertainty was fine back in 2008 — when Martinez was just 19 — but it’s a problem when four years have passed and those questions still remain.”

The Mets have given him an opportunity with their big league club nonetheless and he hasn’t taken that as an opportunity to shine either joining a long list of failed Mets prospects that runs from Billy Beane, through the threesome of Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson to failures of a more recent vintage like Lastings Milledge. In his 47 big league games he has had 145 plate appearances limping to a weak .183/.250/.290 slash line with an equally appalling .245 wOBA and 46 wRC+. He has shown improvement year over year going from a -0.4 WAR in 2009 to -0.2 WAR in 2010 to an even 0.0 last season, but this is hardly the rate of growth that the Mets brass had expected of him. The A’s with free spots in their outfield could put in a claim though given his former top-flight prospect status, I doubt he makes it all the way to them as Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted,

“Martinez’s waivers expire tomorrow afternoon. One scout says: ‘I guarantee a minimum of 5 teams put in a claim on him.’ “

If I am Beane, I think it is worth a shot. Despite his abysmal walk rate which I am not a fan of and which I don’t necessarily feel is the type of thing that can be remedied (4.8% in MLB and only 6.6% in MiLB), what is the worst that could happen? He performs about as poorly as the other 4A’s on the roster at minimal cost. We will find out today if the A’s get him (or even if they even tried), but I wouldn’t be surprised if another club beats them out. My guess is a lot of teams will give it a go to take a low-level risk like this.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kasper permalink
    January 11, 2012 3:58 pm

    Why not ? He is only 23, He’d be a perfect piece in this “rebuilding” process. Not all prospects work out and the more we get the better.

    However, a quick look at his numbers. Nothing stands out.. Triple A numbers are worse than Michael Taylor’s and most of our outfielders for that matter. But again he’s only 23.

    • January 11, 2012 4:04 pm

      Well this whole post was quickly rendered moot as the Astros (who had first dibs) claimed him off waivers. But your thinking matched mine.

  2. Kasper (Kevin) permalink
    January 11, 2012 7:56 pm

    Well how about ” Athletics catcher Landon Powell has accepted his assignment to Triple-A, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets. Powell cleared waivers about a week ago.”

    Powell knows no one wants him besides us. haha. Nothing would make me happier than if he had a break out year.

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