Interview with Jason Martinez
MLBDepthCharts.com is the creation of baseball junkie Jason Martinez, who has been intrigued by the construction of rosters since childhood. The website, and a soon-to-be-released digital magazine, allows readers to follow along as he deconstructs and rebuilds the pieces to the roster puzzle for all 30 major league organizations. The website has become a valuable resource for baseball fans, fantasy geeks, beat writers, reporters, scouts, and front office executives. In July 2011, MLBDepthCharts was named to SI.com’s inaugural Twitter 100, a list honoring the most essential twitter feeds in the sports world.
Jesse Behr: Since the story is hot off the press, what’s your reaction to the Marlins reeling in Heath Bell?
Jason Martinez: I understand the concerns people are going to have. Giving a 34-year-old with a declining strikeout rate a three-year, $27 million deal is risky for obvious reasons. But let me put a positive spin on this, since I’ve watched him on a daily basis here in San Diego. His stuff is still there. I couldn’t tell you the reason why his K rate is down, but the mid-90′s heater and sharp breaking ball haven’t gone away. He’s been one of the best relievers in baseball for the past five seasons, first as a setup man to Trevor Hoffman, then as the Padres’ closer. Bell will be fine for the first two years in Miami. I’d worry how effective he’ll be in year three of the deal when he’s 36 years old. But that’s less of a concern for a team that has a sense of urgency to compete in 2012.
JB: The A’s recently signed Brandon Moss to a minor league contract. Is Moss simply a ‘Quad-A’ player or something more, if given the opportunity to play?
JM: I think there’s a better chance he’s one of those AAAA guys, but you never know. Moss is still only 28 years old and has had a good track record in the minors. Can you tell if he’s a Quad-A player after one year of being an everyday player? Maybe. But it has happened before where guys have slipped through the cracks and have turned out to be something more.
JB: Where does Grady Sizemore fit in the Indians’ depth chart?
JM: You put a healthy Sizemore back in the leadoff spot and he’s your everyday center fielder. I don’t think they’re counting on him to play 150 games. They’re going to utilize him at the DH spot, which will also give him a break in center. It’s going to be hard for Sizemore to come back, as some guys are just injury-prone. That micro-fracture knee surgery is not easy to come back from.
JB: Who is the Rangers’ number one starter if C.J. Wilson leaves?
JM: I’ve had a couple of readers argue this one with me. I put Derek Holland as their number one after his 2011 postseason; he was amazing. I don’t know though if they have a clear-cut number one. The Rangers have a lot of potential number ones. Alexei Ogando was one of the best starters in the league the first half of last year, and then he trailed off towards the end. Neftali Feliz has number-one starter potential, and he’s going to be in the rotation this year. If you ask 100 people right now, no one’s going to give you the same answer.
JB: Who replaces Pujols, Fielder, and Reyes according to your depth charts?
JM: If the Cardinals can’t re-sign Pujols, Lance Berkman will slide over to first base, opening up an everyday spot for Allen Craig. It looks like the Brewers have a back-up plan in place at first with Matt Gamel, a guy who has put up big numbers in the minors but hasn’t hit at the Major League level. In house, the Brewers don’t really have anything else, so Gamel’s going to be their guy. If they wanted to spend their money on Reyes, then giving Gamel a shot makes a whole lot more sense — a guy making close to the league minimum will allow the Brewers to spend their money on Reyes. Remember, the team doesn’t have anybody at short right now besides journeyman Edwin Maysonet.
The Mets have Ruben Tejada at short. He played really well at second base last year. The ideal situation is they get Reyes back and Tejada stays at second. But right now, he’s their shortstop. Daniel Murphy could play second, but I see Murphy as a trade candidate. He’s not a natural second baseman. I really like Reese Havens in the minors, but he’s one of those guys that have been injury-prone. I think he’s the guy that could be their everyday second baseman by midseason.
JB: Which team will be worst off if one of the three depart?
JM: I think the Mets, and I think they know it. They know they’re going to go backwards here if they don’t re-sign Reyes. I think they’re going to give him (in their minds) a fair deal, but that’s a lot less than what he’s going to get somewhere else. I think if Reyes leaves, it’s going to become a full-on rebuilding season. You look at a superstar shortstop that’s a threat on the base paths, a solid fielder, extra-base power … taking that out of the top of the lineup becomes critical. The Brewers would take a hit as well. The best player of these three is Pujols and the Cardinals are going to be the best off because of who they have around him. Looking at the Mets lineup, they’re going to struggle if they lose Reyes.
JB: What are the Phillies’ plans at first base if Ryan Howard misses some time? How does Jim Thome fit into the equation?
JM: I have Thome penciled in as a first baseman but I don’t expect him to be there every game. He hasn’t played first base for four or five years. The Phillies must be happy with what John Mayberry. did last year, and he played a handful of games at first. I could see the two of them, along with Ty Wigginton, sharing time at first. It’s going to be a mixture of those three guys. You don’t want Thome in there everyday, nor do you want Mayberry or Wigginton, who can bounce around at different positions.
You also don’t want to, for example, sign a guy like Carlos Pena for one year, only to have Howard come back in April. I think the Phillies are correct right now in focusing their attention on shortstop, maybe trying to get Jimmy Rollins back. They should be satisfied with Thome, Mayberry, and Wigginton at first base.