First Pitch: Russell Martin departin'?

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
7:00
AM ET


A month ago, the answer among Yankees fans would have been a unanimous and resounding yes. And admit it, more than a few of you would have volunteered to drive him to the airport.

But now, with Russell Martin hitting as well as anyone on the team not named Robinson Cano, there might be a shift in some of that thinking.

In fact, as bad a season as Martin may be having at the plate -- and my column from last night explores that, as well as the September Surprise he is staging now -- his agent has had even a worse one, having cut off negotiations in spring training when the Yankees were willing to give Martin a four-year deal at about $6 million a year.

Now, if Russell Martin is to be a Yankee in 2013, and beyond, it will be at a much lower price tag.

The Yankees, for their part, have always seemed to want Martin, whose contract expires at the end of this season, back next year.

Unlike many of the fans, they know that the kind of offensive production the Yankees had become accustomed to from Jorge Posada, a borderline Hall of Famer, was an anomaly among catchers.

For every Posada or Yogi Berra or Mike Piazza, there are a lot more Russell Martins. Most managers, and especially managers like Joe Girardi, a former catcher himself, want defense and the ability to handle a pitching staff out of their catchers.

Anything they do at the plate is gravy. That is why the Yankees were willing to give up on Jesus Montero, because his deficiencies behind the plate were too great even for his promising bat to overcome.

Girardi likes Martin as a defensive catcher and so does GM Brian Cashman. And they’ve got to love what they’re seeing now, an offensive resurgence that reveals a strength of character not many players would show after the five horrendous months that preceded it.

The Question of the Day, however, is directed at you: Do you think the Yankees should offer Russell Martin a multiyear deal this winter? And if not, who or what, do you consider a feasible alternative? Let us know below.

Up now: My column on Martin’s big game in the Yankees' 11-4 win over the Blue Jays last night.

Coming soon: Lineups and all sorts of pregame news, especially on the status of Robinson Cano, who suffered a left hand injury when hit by Brett Cecil in the sixth inning last night. Cano went for an X-ray and the Yankees will give us the results today, probably soon after the clubhouse opens at 10 a.m.

That, of course, will be followed by another crucial game in this white-knuckle AL East race: Andy Pettitte (5-3, 2.72) facing LHP Ricky Romero (9-14, 5.76), in Game 3 of this four-game series, first pitch at 1:07 p.m. I’ll be there so check in all day long, and as always, thanks for reading.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.269 15 67 69
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 21
RBIJ. Ellsbury 67
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .755
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAH. Kuroda 3.81
SOM. Tanaka 135