Beware V-Mart in Boston; LaRoche wins in Atlanta
July, 31, 2009
By Eric Karabell | ESPN Insider
It's not surprising that Victor Martinez was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Boston Red Sox, as it was being talked about much of this week, but Clay Buchholz was not included in the deal. Fantasy owners were looking for assurance that Buchholz would remain in some team's rotation the rest of 2009. Sorry, folks, we can't guarantee it. The Red Sox dealt pitchers Justin Masterson and a pair of minor leaguers to get Martinez, but they still have incredible rotation depth. The Martinez addition gives the Red Sox help at catcher and first base from a power-hitting switch-hitter who initially was having a really good season.
Then again, the Red Sox probably aren't concerned about Martinez's hitting trends this season, but fantasy owners should not overlook this. Martinez has seen his batting average drop each month this season, from .386 in April to .321 in May, .240 in June and .175 so far in July. I don't think that's a coincidence. He missed much of 2008 with multiple injuries, and hey, he's a catcher. Players at that position tend to get tired faster and at a far more noticeable level than other position players. Of course, Martinez is an upgrade over the older Jason Varitek, but most catchers see their numbers drop in the second half. It's generally not a good idea in fantasy to trade for any catcher after the All-Star break for this reason. Do I view Martinez any differently for fantasy now that he's in Boston? Not really. It's a deeper lineup and the people at the top get on base at a higher clip, but he already was playing every day and already was owned in every league, and while he was trending downward, he's still a top-three backstop in fantasy.
John Cordes/Icon SMIVictor Martinez probably will split time between catcher and first base, but will the wear and tear of the season catch up to him?