The St. Louis Cardinals have said that they would like a versatile fourth outfielder. Is this candidate already on the squad and was he already on the squad last season too?
If the St. Louis Cardinals really need a fourth outfielder and if this man is not going to be named Tommy Pham, then should the organization look any farther than their own 40-man roster? I wrote yesterday that this candidate could be found by taking a risk on the young Todd Cunningham. Today, I shall focus on another internal candidate.
Let me give props to one of our readers- Justin Olivier- who pointed out to me on Facebook the fact that I was overlooking the versatile player that is Jose Martinez when I published my Cunningham piece yesterday. Olivier was exactly on-point and I am ashamed that I- a massive fan of Martinez- put Cunningham above Martinez.
How much of a fan am I of Jose Martinez? Let see… I was the one who broke the news of him joining the Cardinals eight months ago. I was the one… wait, that’s the only article I’ve written about him. So maybe I’m not such a fan.
I feel as though I have written more about him but am having a tough time finding them so please forgive me. Having said that, let me say that I am a fan of Martinez. While I might not have been very impressed with his signing, I was able to watch him perform in Memphis last season. In addition, Martinez did a nice job during his brief service after rosters expanded.
Let’s look at his minor league career numbers:
Report from Baseball-Reference.com.
.294/.354/.410 ain’t too bad for a ten-year minor-league career. And how about his MLB career numbers:
Report from Baseball-Reference.com.
Impressive, no? Okay, okay, okay, those inflated numbers did come during a mere sixteen at-bats but they at least argue for the chance to prove himself.
As a point of reference, let us remember that Pham has posted an MLB slash (over three seasons and 314 at-bats) of .245/.333/.455. Would you take the risk on Martinez over Pham?
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As I dive into the defensive numbers for Martinez, let me remind you of the defensive numbers of Pham. Pham is noted as a below-average left fielder with a -1.4 MLB career UZR. He is noted as a below-average center fielder with a -2.9 MLB career UZR. In keeping fashion, he is noted as a below-average right fielder as well with a -1.5 MLB career UZR. When appearing in multiple outfield spots, Pham is significantly below average at -5.8 UZR.
To Martinez then. Martinez has appeared in twenty-two major league innings in left field and two innings at first base. In these small sample sizes he is ranked as a 0.0 UZR at first base and a -1.2 UZR in left. Noting these numbers, then, we should admit that defensively these two might be a wash. It is a little to early to make this judgement against Martinez noting the small sample.
All of this considered, I would 100 percent take Martinez at the plate over Tommy Pham. Defensively, however, I worry that Pham is the better outfielder, honestly. Let me say that I have witnessed Martinez’s speed abilities in the outfield as well as having witnessed Pham’s and I would have to rank Pham over Martinez.
Does this mean that I think spring belongs to Pham? Not so. I actually believe that Pham and Cunningham and Martinez will be very interesting names to follow this spring. I look to each of them to get plenty of playing time early so that decisions can be made later.
Of these three, who would you prefer: Pham, Cunningham, or Martinez? If you were Matheny, who would you ask to lace-up and head to the grass out by the bleachers? Stay with us as we dive head-first into spring training tomorrow!