Friday, November 21, 2003
Does deal mean Pujols at first?
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tino Martinez hopes a move home can
spark his slumping bat.
The St. Louis Cardinals traded the 35-year-old first baseman to
the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Friday on minor league pitcher Evan
Rust and a player to be named.
"I did not come here to retire and play out the rest of my
career," Martinez said at Tropicana Field. "I came here to be a
productive player for these guys, and I look forward to having a
big year and making an impact on the young players on the team and
also try to help this team get to the next level."
Born in Tampa, Martinez was a star at the University of Tampa
before starting his major league career.
A power hitter with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees,
the two-time All-Star had averaged nearly 30 homers and 111 RBIs
for seven seasons before joining the Cardinals.
He hit 21 homers with 75 RBIs in his first year at St. Louis and
dipped to 15 homers and 69 RBIs this season. He hit .273, his
Martinez is owed $7.5 million next season under the $21 million,
three-year deal he agreed to with the Cardinals in December 2001,
and his contract contains an $8 million option for 2005 with a $1
St. Louis will pay $7 million of the remaining $8.5 million
Martinez is guaranteed, a baseball official said on the condition
Martinez will be reunited with Devil Rays skipper Lou Piniella,
who managed him in Seattle from 1993 through 1995.
"Our objective when the season ended was to add some talented,
veteran players who have had success and know how to win and, at
the same time, can provide some leadership for our young players,"
Piniella said. "Tino was a perfect candidate.
"He's the first step toward getting to where we want to this
winter, and we're thrilled about it," he said.
Martinez will replace the slick-fielding Travis Lee at first
base. The Devil Rays decided not to exercise their option on Lee,
who hit .275 last year with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs.
Martinez, his wife Maria, and their three children, ages 7 to
11, live in Tampa, where Martinez helped lead Tampa Catholic High
School to the Florida state title in 1982. At the University of
Tampa, Martinez was a three-time Division II All-American.
With the Yankees, Martinez won four World Series championships.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the trade could lead to a
"Does this deal mean that Albert Pujols will be moved to first
base? That's a possibility," La Russa said. "One of the things we
are trying to do is improve our table-setters at the top of the
lineup. Because first base is a position primarily reserved for
run-producers, we feel that we have a better chance of finding a
leadoff hitter to play the outfield rather than first base."
Rust, 25, was 1-3 with a 2.65 ERA with 11 saves in 30 relief
appearances at Double-A Orlando and 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA and one
save in 26 relief outings for Triple-A Durham.
"Our focus this offseason has been on reshaping our everyday
lineup while also improving our pitching," Cardinals general
manager Walt Jocketty said. "We feel that we have acquired a
quality pitcher in Rust while this trade also creates flexibility
for future moves aimed at obtaining our offseason goals."