TIGERS SHOULD SHUT DOWN VMART

By:  Kurt Snyder

Three more years. Three healthy years. That’s what the Tigers need out of Victor Martinez. So what are they doing about it? How are the Tigers making sure they get the most out of him?

Well, this is what they have done so far. Victor concerned everyone when he injured his knee in the spring and needed surgery to repair his meniscus. Red flag, right? How long would he be out? Who would fill the void? There was genuine panic, at least in my mind.

This was a guy who almost won an MVP with his gaudy numbers in 2014, earning him a contract that no one in Detroit disputed. It would take a four-year contract to bring him back. There was certainly risk, but it was risk worth taking, given his continued productivity.

So given how badly we needed him in the lineup this year, I believe the Tigers panicked. They mapped out a plan that could get Victor and Miggy back for Opening Day, as Miggy was also recovering from off-season surgery.

And that’s what was presented to the media; the goal was to have both ready for Opening Day. It was a relief to hear. The last thing anyone wanted to do is start the season without either one of these guys, much less both.

Before long, VMart was taking batting practice in Lakeland and suddenly he was in the lineup. But he was far from ready. He limped on the base paths and the day that Victor tweaked that knee running to first in spring training was the day we learned a lot about his health and a lot about who was in charge of this baseball team. And it certainly wasn’t Brad Ausmus.

Brad couldn’t get Victor off the field. VMart just waved him off and he continued to run the bases. He was not removed. He was not protected. It was a disturbing development. Brad had no pull in his own locker room. It was evident right way in spring training.

Along came Opening Day and the Tigers had delivered what they had promised. They felt such a sense of urgency to get these guys in the lineup to start the season that it was hard to determine where all the pressure was coming from. It was totally unnecessary. We had a whole season to worry about. And bringing key players back too early from injury was foolish at best, and risked another run at a division title.

The Tigers have handled VMart’s injury poorly all season. He was rushed to Opening Day, had nothing for weeks and was finally and mercifully placed on the DL. It was long overdue as game after game, we waited for Victor to come around. He looked miserable at the plate, demonstrating no real ability to drive the ball, and it was painful to watch him run. Victor Martinez had no business playing baseball. He didn’t belong on the field.

And as it turned out, the DL stint helped him a great deal. Imagine that! When he returned, he began to hit for power and looked more like the cleanup hitter we had grown to love all these years.

But recently, things have slowed down for him again. The average is down, the bat is getting slower, the extra base hits have been few and far between and he again appears to be less than 100%. He looks tired, having endured a lot; fighting his health in a season filled with disappointment. So the Tigers need to act.

This is not a team in a heated pennant race. Not this year. If that was the case, you could understand the need for Victor to continue to play. He commands respect at the plate, even when he’s not completely healthy. And he has helped spell Miggy, ironically, at first base, in the interests of keeping Cabrera from reinjuring that calf.

But the Tigers are dying a slow death, sitting in last place in the Central, 10 games under .500 and all the minor leaguers are ready to show us what they got.

So why on earth is Victor Martinez still playing? Isn’t it time to shut him down? September, outside of player development and Miggy’s run at a batting title, will be a meaningless month.

Sure, a decision to shut him down wouldn’t be popular. Victor is a competitor and he wants to be playing.  But this is not his decision. Someone needs to save Victor from himself, and any further delay is unacceptable.

13 thoughts on “TIGERS SHOULD SHUT DOWN VMART

  1. Keeping VMart out would not only help his recovery, but it would allow a lot more at bats to Moya who really needs to show what he can do at the big league level.I wish the coaches would start teaching some 1B to JD or Moya, Miggy would benefit much from that also. The whole roster will benefit from an OFer who can play 1B.

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  2. Perhaps it’s time for Al Avila to put his foot down and provide evidence of what kind of General Manager he will be because Brad Ausmus has shown that he is not control of the clubhouse.

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  3. Your analysis based on observation is right on the money from where I sit. It was clear that players like Price, Cabrera and Victor would not come out of games, and they often stared down Brad Ausmus when he attempted to reason with them. By the way, that is predictable with a rookie manager and a veteran team.

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  4. I agree it may be time to shut VMart down for the season. The other alternative would be for him to bat only right handed. He is hitting .357 from the right side and .201 from the left. I don’t understand that. I find it hard to believe he couldn’t bat at least .201 right handed against right handed pitching.

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  5. Spot on..except Brad fills out the line up card. Why did VM continue to hobble to 1b until the “closed door meeting?” Why is he playing now? Same with Miggy, Igggy, JV. Ausmus said he’d rest these guys from time to time. IMO, the Tigers have been very fortunate not to reinjure them also.

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  6. Yes, for performance reasons as much as health reasons. Of the current nine Tigers with the most at bats this season, he ranks at or near the bottom in batting average, OBP, and slugging. But there always seems to be some intangible reason to keep him in the lineup (attitude, work ethic, relationship with Cabrera).

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  7. Good points Kurt. The same arguments could be made for sitting Miggy. Anyone watching him move around the bases knows he is not right, and other than a potential batting title (not a team goal) there is no reason to be putting his recovery at risk.

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    • I’m with you on this one Blues. Miggy should be DHing right now, he wants that batting title and he deserves it, so let Miggy DH, sit Vmart. For how much we all love him, the tigers future is Cabrera, not Victor.

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      • I couldn’t agree more. VMart could even platoon at first a couple of days a week (if he’s not on the DL, where he frankly belongs). There are a few options for platooning at first.

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  8. “…earning him a contract that no one in Detroit disputed.” I disputed it; I posted on a number of boards that signing a player in his mid-30s with a significant injury history coming off a career year to a 4-year contract was a sucker bet. You’ll never see the Cards or the new Cubs agree to a contract like that.

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