Video: Russell Martin 2013 Highlights

Russell Martin was impressive in his first year as a Pirate, both at and behind the plate. Offensively, he crushed 15 homers, plus two more memorable blasts in the Wild Card game. Martin was awesome defensively; in fact, he was just nominated for the Gold Glove award yesterday.

Here are some highlights from his 2013 season:

[If embedded video does not work, HERE is the direct link.]

Song is “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West, one of Martin’s walk-up songs this year.

Go Bucs

MLB 2K13 Review

Last Tuesday, MLB 2K13 hit the shelves for the XBOX 360 gaming console. 2K Sports was originally not going to release a new edition for 2013, but they decided in January to release one anyway.

In reality, 2K13 is nearly a carbon-copy of 2K12. All of the same game modes and features are available. The “Franchise” and “My Player” modes are nothing to get excited about, but still around if you choose to try them. A big omission from 2K13 is the online leagues. League play was popular last year, so its absence is definitely disappointing.

Playing as the Pirates, there were a few notable errors. Russell Martin’s jersey reads “J. Martin,” a tribute he dedicated to his mother in 2009 “:

Russell Martin J. Martin Jersey

Problem is, he only used that jersey style for 2009, and doesn’t appear to be going back to it for 2013:

Russell Martin Canada

Another issue that was quite obvious was the pronunciation of new reliever Mark Melancon’s name. It’s certainly tricky for some, and it isn’t a word you should sound out. While it should be pronounced “muh-lan-sen” (listen here), 2K play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne delivers it as “melon-con” (the way one would sound it out).

The other blantant issue we noticed was the poor player graphics. You may have seen the 2K13 photo we posted on Twitter the other night of Bucco closer Jason Grilli. One of our followers @JPontzer93 offered us a comparable image of Grilli from MLB 13 The Show for PlayStation 3. On the left is 2k13, on the right is The Show:

Jason Grilli Video Game Comparison

Grilli’s portrayal on the left looks nothing like him, whereas the image on the right is nearly perfect. The presentation differences between the two games is almost laughable. We’ll have a review for The Show coming soon.

There are obviously some problems with 2K13, and it’s nearly the same game as last year. It may not be worth your money, but it’s still a way to get your baseball fix if you own an Xbox. Operation Sports rated 2K13 as a 4 out of 10 (below-average).

Do you play MLB 2K13? Have any compliments, concerns, or other insights about the game? Let us know.

Player Profile: Russell Martin

Russell Martin, C
Born: February 15, 1983
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 205 lbs.

Career statistics:

Year Age Tm G H HR RBI BA OBP OPS
2006 23 LAD 121 117 10 65 .282 .355 .792
2007 24 LAD 151 158 19 87 .293 .374 .843
2008 25 LAD 155 155 13 69 .280 .385 .781
2009 26 LAD 143 126 7 53 .250 .352 .680
2010 27 LAD 97 82 5 26 .248 .347 .679
2011 28 NYY 125 99 18 65 .237 .324 .732
2012 29 NYY 133 89 21 53 .211 .311 .713
7 Yrs 925 826 93 418 .260 .352 .751

 

Scouting report from Pirates Prospects:
Martin was one of the better catchers in baseball in his first three seasons, playing very well on both sides of the ball.  He had outstanding plate discipline throughout his minor league career and most of his major league career.  After those first three seasons, though, his hitting dropped off significantly and he struggled during his last two seasons in Los Angeles, leading to a non-tender.  He signed with the Yankees and continued to struggle at the plate, with his plate discipline also dropping off, but he hit with more power than previously.  For his career he’s had a fairly strong platoon split, posting an OPS of .830 against LHPs and .725 against RHPs.  He’s a good defensive catcher, possibly one of the best in baseball if you credit the pitch-framing study published by Baseball Prospectus, which showed Martin to be excellent.  For his career he’s thrown out 30% of opposing base stealers.”

Bill James’ 2013 projections:
.242 batting average, 16 HR, 64 RBI in 524 plate appearances

ZiPS 2013 projections:
.238 batting average, 12 HR, 46 RBI in 466 plate appearances

Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Pirates agree to terms with Russell Martin

According to various sources, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms with free agent catcher Russell Martin. Ken Rosenthal was the first to break the news on Thursday night:

[tweet https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/274323115230760960]

It appears that the contract will be for two years and worth $17 million. The deal should be finalized on Friday.

Here’s a look at Martin’s career offensive numbers:

Year Age Tm G H HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Awards
2006 23 LAD 121 117 10 65 .282 .355 .436 .792 RoY-9
2007 24 LAD 151 158 19 87 .293 .374 .469 .843 AS,GG,SS
2008 25 LAD 155 155 13 69 .280 .385 .396 .781 AS
2009 26 LAD 143 126 7 53 .250 .352 .329 .680
2010 27 LAD 97 82 5 26 .248 .347 .332 .679
2011 28 NYY 125 99 18 65 .237 .324 .408 .732 AS
2012 29 NYY 133 89 21 53 .211 .311 .403 .713
7 Yrs 925 826 93 418 .260 .352 .399 .751
162 Game Avg. 162 145 16 73 .260 .352 .399 .751

Bill James projects him to hit .242 with 16 home runs next season.

He’s been to the All-Star Game three times, and has also won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He brings experience and leadership to Pittsburgh as well.

While the price tag was a little high, Martin is definitely an upgrade over Barajas. We were skeptical at first, but this excited us a little bit:

This is where each of Martin’s 2012 home runs would have landed at PNC Park. The large left field would be expected to take away some of Martin’s power, but it looks like about 18 of his 21 bombs would have cleared the fences.

He also had an extremely low batting average on balls in play last season, which means that his average might climb a bit. Still, a .211 batting average is concerning and certainly not what the Pirates need.

It was refreshing to hear that Martin was intrigued by Bucs (enough so that he wanted to sign here). Neil Walker mentioned at the end of the year that they needed more veteran leadership, and Martin, who already has seven years under his belt, seems to be a good addition for the clubhouse.

This speaks volumes to the development of Tony Sanchez; is he really that far off? He’s certainly had a disappointing minor league career to date, but he was definitely a candidate to back up Michael McKenry. Plus it’s a two-year deal, so they must not have much faith in him at all. Here’s what Sanchez had to say:

[tweet https://twitter.com/Tony26Montana/status/274328728459440128]

Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib brings up a reasonable point: Russell Martin’s deal could easily turn out to be similar to Matt Morris‘. He says, “It’s far clearer now than it was with Littlefield in 2007 that they’re in huge trouble, hanging by a thread. And right along with it comes a monster deal — by Pittsburgh standards — for a light-hitting catcher on the decline… But let’s not pretend this transaction was anything other than what it was: A desperation move.”

Finally, Neal Huntington has been here in Pittsburgh since 2007. He’s honestly done nothing but lose; plenty of fans want him gone. Has he improved the state of the franchise a bit? Sure – flocks of people went through the turnstiles at PNC last season, season ticket sales are up, and some money is definitely flying in (we’re sure Nutting loves that). NH is fighting for his job… but he’s playing with fire. This signing could be a domino effect for the Bucs – how much more cash do they have to spend? Could Joel Hanrahan‘s career as a Pirate be over? We’ll know soon enough, as the Winter Meetings take place next week. Can’t wait to see how everything unfolds.

Go Bucs

Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons

Pirates acquire three; Russell Martin on radar?

Neal Huntington and his staff shuffled the roster a bit today by acquiring three players.

First, they picked up RHP Zach Stewart from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. Stewart, 26, has a career 6.82 ERA in 33 games.

Next, the Bucs got 1B Clint Robinson and RHP Vin Mazzaro from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Luis Rico and Luis Santos (both minor league pitchers). Robinson, who will turn 28 in February, hit .292 with 13 HR last season for Triple-A Omaha. He’s been blocked in the Royals’ system, mostly by young first baseman Eric Hosmer. Robinson seems to be a decent pickup; his name was brought into discussion last spring when the Bucs lacked offense. The 26 year old Mazzaro had a 5.73 ERA in 44 innings last year for KC. He pitched against the Pirates on June 9th, lasting just three innings and surrendering four runs.

To clear room on the 40 man roster, they designated “The Hit Collector” Matt Hague and Yamaico Navarro for assignment.

Rob Biertempfel of the Trib brought up some good points about these pickups. He writes, “Pirates today made two trades that could figure into plans for who is tendered/non-tendered Friday… Vin Mazzaro could be either back-end starter or long reliever, just like arbitration-eligible Jeff Karstens. Clint Robinson makes it 3’s a crowd at first base with arbitration-eligible Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez.” It’ll be interesting to see how the Bucs handle this. Both Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez should betendered contracts, but you never know. If Jones and Sanchez are on the Opening Day roster, Clint Robinson would most likely be replacing Matt Hague and Jeff Clement as the first baseman at Indianapolis.

In other news, it looks like the club is aggressively pursuing catcher Russell Martin. Jon Heyman wrote that the Bucs are trying to pry him away from the Yankees. Heyman says that the Pirates may be offering around 3 years/$25 million. Many of the people who have weighed in on the situation are not too excited about this deal. Martin hit just .211 last season and his power numbers will most likely decline at PNC Park. Is he an upgrade over Rod Barajas? Yes. Is he worth the money he’s asking for? Probably not.

Biertempfel had this to say - “There’s a sense among some in industry that Pirates will overpay if necessary for a FA this year. Will it be C Russell Martin? Management must show it’s serious about avoiding another second-half breakdown. And the club desperately needs a catcher.”

Ken Rosenthal with a few thoughts:

[tweet https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/273892378060926976]

[tweet https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/273892380908863488]

[tweet https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/273894393163964416]

Go Bucs