Will Russell Martin rebound with Yanks?

Updated: December 16, 2010, 4:57 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
It wasn't too long ago that Russell Martin was one of the top catchers in fantasy baseball, a durable workhorse with above-average power, stolen base skills and a decent batting average. Then came 2009, which saw a drop of 30 points in batting average and half of his homers, and it was followed by an even worse 2010, when injury was added to insult. But now that the forgotten Martin is a member of the New York Yankees, signing a free-agent deal Tuesday, I see reasons for relative optimism statistically.

Martin's 2010 season was truncated by August surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, but the truth is he wasn't helping fantasy owners much prior to that. He ended up hitting .248 with negligible power, though the six stolen bases could have been a difference-maker for some. Despite being only 27 years old, it looks like a few years of playing nearly every day behind the plate made Martin a washed-up player, like an abused running back in football. But it's a bit early to write someone with his skills off.