The Victor Martinez Problem

I know this might come as a shock to some Detroit sports fans who buried the Tigers earlier this week after an awful stretch in which their bullpen and defense competed to rip our hearts out, but after 18 games the team is currently in a first place tie with the Tribe.

And if the team’s defense and relief pitching didn’t give you violet diarrhea this past week, the fact that starters were going down left and right with injuries couldn’t have been very reassuring. Many Tigers fans totally lost their shit in the midst of the organization’s four game losing streak and started Tweeting doomsday predictions.

The fact is the Tigers are basically right where I figured they needed to be while J.D. Martinez  rehabbed from a foot injury. Within shouting distance of the Cleveland Indians. With the apparent weaknesses of this franchise heading into the season, losing their second best hitter and sometimes best offensive player was something a team that desperately needed to get off to a decent start could not afford. At all.

And yet the Tigers are hanging in there even with a starting lineup that includes John Hicks, Jim Adduci (who the fuck is this guy???) and Andrew Romine.

This team has a chance to be damn good when they get healthy if they can get a reliever or three at some point via trade but the moronic managing of three-year Ivy League Imbecile Brad Ausmus continues to be a major issue. In fact, if you ask me what worries me most about this season, I’d put Ausmus ahead of the ‘pen and centerfield based on what we’ve seen from Dartmouth Dopey over the last couple of weeks.

And my major point of contention is Half-Joo’s continued blind loyalty to Victor Martinez. Now, I know injuries have effed up the lineup in recent days, but what excuse is there for V-Mart to continue to bat CLEANUP on this team? That decision is inexplicable for numerous reasons and you have to go back to last September to understand just how troubling it is.

Some people around these parts have suffered amnesia or something, but if you think really hard, you might recall that the Tigers controlled their own playoff destiny when they woke up Saturday morning in Atlanta during the last week of the season. And this wasn’t just any year. Management knew Mike Ilitch was never going to live to see a World Series championship if it didn’t occur in 2016. That’s how grave his health was.

But was there any sense of urgency from Ausmus? Not at all. How many rallies croaked during the last few weeks of the season because Victor CONSTANTLY ended scoring threats by rolling over on pitches and grounding RIGHT INTO THE SHIFT? It was apparent that V-Mart was shot for the season. Well, to everyone except Ausmus.

While Justin Upton was absolutely on fire and Julio Daniel was Julio Daniel, Ausmus STUBBORNLY REFUSED to slide Victor down the order. And fans weren’t even privy to what was REALLY going on with the team’s Designated Hitter …..

HE WAS PLAYING WITH A GOD DAMN HERNIA!!!!!!

This from the New York Times — purchase a subscription and save our Republic — regarding that injury ….

I mean …. what?!?!?!?!? With the season on the line and V-Mart playing with a painful bulging organ, Ausmus adamantly refused to give the offense a boost by sliding Martinez down.

And then came the start to this season. In 68 plate appearances, Martinez has ONE extra-base hit. And that came TODAY. Even after a 3-for-5 performance against the Twins, V-Mart still has a lousy batting average of .222, an anemic on-base percentage of .286 and a pathetic OPS of .524.

He’s basically Don Kelly without the speed. Batting fourth. Seriously, a week or so ago, the dude hit a ball off the wall and never even thought of trying for a double. I joked on Twitter that the only thing slower than V-Mart this year is the current season of Better Call Saul.

After 16 games, Martinez has an fWAR of negative .5. That’s really hard to do in that short period of time. But here we are.

So what will we find out was bothering this offseason? MCL sprain? Another hernia? Athlete’s foot?

Once Miguel Cabrera and JD return to the lineup, this corpse of a baseball player MUST move down the batting order. The Tigers don’t have the luxury of getting nothing from the cleanup spot given their other flaws. They need their offense to offset the awfulness of that bullpen and Jordan Zimmermann.

And I’ll go one step further. If the decrepit Designated “Hitter” doesn’t start producing more than one extra-base hit every 16 games it’s going to be time to come to grips with the fact that Victor is done like dinner. The team is going to need someone other than Alex Avila to pose a threat from the left side of the plate at some point this season.

Maybe that person will end up being 23-year-old outfield prospect Christin Stewart, who is currently annihilating right-handed pitching in Erie. Stewart currently enjoys a slash line of .283/.397/,566 with ten XBHs in 15 games. Supposedly defense isn’t one of Stewart’s strong suits so easing into MLB as a DH seems like a perfect marriage…exccept for the fact that V-Mart has nearly $36 million still owed to him by the Tigers and we know how the Ilitch sports franchises value loyalty no matter the bitter truth on the field and especially when paychecks like that are still pending.

How Ausmus handles this situation will be a good indication of what he has learned while managing the Tigers.

And considering no amount of evidence whatsoever can seem to convince Ausmus that Justin Wilson should be employed as the team’s high-leverage bullpen option as opposed to V-Mart’s fellow apparently finished Venezuelan buddy Francisco Rodriguez …. well…..

Yeah … I am sure we are pretty fucked.

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