Aug 11, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) celebrates with the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning in an interleague game at PNC Park. The Pirates won 11-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates inked Russell Martin to the most expensive free agent signing of the Neal Huntington era in 2012. Huntington signed Martin to a two-year, $17 million dollar contract with a $2 million signing bonus giving the Bucs backstop a $6.5 million salary his first year with the club. Martin was paid $8.5 million this year. Yesterday, the Bucs made their qualifying offer for $15.3 million and of course, Martin will get more than that after two fine seasons with Pittsburgh.
Martin had a lot to do with why the Pirates broke their world record losing streak and made it to the NLCS in 2013. The popular Martin followed it up with a terrific 2014 campaign. And oh, yeh the Pirates got back to the MLB Postseason where they were mowed down by Madison Bumgarner
The San Francisco Giants Buster Posey has won three World Series championships in the past five years. Posey is a very talented player, hell, so much so that MLB implemented the Posey Rule. The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals won in the other years and you can probably name their backstops without much thinking.
Take a look at the past few World Series champions and the runner-ups. How many catchers can you name off the top of your head? If you made it to this site, you can probably name more than a few.
Who were the catchers for the World Series champions?
So while it seems that having a very productive catcher is insanely important to winning a World Series title, it also helps to have a ‘golden arm’ like Madison Bumgarner. You remember what he did this postseason right?
Bumgarner did whatever he wanted to the opposition in the 2014 MLB Postseason, but Bumgarner didn’t get to ride the horse in the victory parade. His All-Star catcher, Posey was with him the entire ride as the Giants brought the title to San Francisco.
So some answers on the catching position and a World Series title:
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the Red Sox primary catcher in 2013. According to Fangraphs, he had a 3.5 WAR. David Ross was the backup and posted .9WAR.
Yadier Molina was the Cardinals primary catcher in 2011. Fangraphs had Molina at 4.4. The backups were positive WAR as well.
Jorge Posada was the Yankees catcher in 2009. Posada posted a 2.4 WAR.
The Philadelphia Phillies had Carlos Ruiz at 0.6 and Chris Coste at 1.0 WAR. Probably the closest example to a team having some rather average production from the catching position and still winning the World Series title.
Jason Varitek was the Red Sox catcher and posted 2.5 WAR in their 2007 championship season.
We could go on a bit more, but the fact is this. If you want to win a World Series championship, an above average catcher is vital. So while many Pirates fans are talking themselves into some of the very average catchers that could replace Russell Martin in the Pirates lineup, just save your breath. Start thinking of a superior performer before you make yourself look like an idiot.
With the in house options limited, the Pirates will need to make a trade for a starting catcher. We hear there might be one available. Let’s trust other clubs think Montero is the answer and the Pirates can work some magic in finding the next Russell Martin, Buster Posey or Yadier Molina.
Shit. I don’t envy Neal Huntington.