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Red Sox coach blames 'bad habits' from Indians on Victor Martinez's throwing struggles

Apr 30, 2010, 12:45 PM EDT

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Victor Martinez has tried to improve his woeful throwing numbers by participating in twice-daily workout sessions with catching instructor Gary Tuck.
Tuck praised Martinez’s work ethic while adding that “he came over here with some really bad habits” and “you can’t break them overnight.” I’d be interested to hear the Indians’ response to that, since Tuck is basically saying Cleveland has a terrible coaching staff that hindered Martinez’s development defensively.
However, his throw-out percentage during eight seasons with the Indians was actually decent at 24.5 percent, especially compared to his abysmal rate of 8.3 percent since joining the Red Sox in the middle of last year.
Rather than bad habits, what really seems to have destroyed Martinez’s ability to control the running game is elbow surgery in 2008, because as Bradford notes since returning from that he’s gunned down just 9-of-92 steal attempts. Whatever the case, Martinez finding a way to go from horrendous to merely bad throwing out runners may determine whether the Red Sox make a significant effort to re-sign the impending free agent.

  1. GimmeSomeSteel - Apr 30, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    Has anyone thought of possibly giving some of the blame to the Red Sox’ pitchers, pitching coach, etc.? It’s not always just the catcher’s fault. That said, yes, Martinez isn’t that good at throwing out base stealers, never really has been. He’s a fine hitter who is able to catch, and Boston would be foolish to even think of not re-signing him, even if it means making him a full-time 1B or DH..

  2. Geoff - Apr 30, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Aren’t the Red Sox still operating under the “we’d rather make a quality pitch than try to throw out the runner” philosophy?
    I remember this was preached a few years ago as a contributing factor to the Sox’ persistent inability to throw out runners.
    The idea being, they’d rather have a pitcher make full leg kick in an effort to properly execute the pitch than go with the slide step (which supposedly reduces pitch quality).
    Over the years I’ve just come to accept that they can’t throw anybody out no matter who’s catching. Once in a while it costs us a game but usually it goes unmentioned.

  3. Joey B - Apr 30, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    “Aren’t the Red Sox still operating under the “we’d rather make a quality pitch than try to throw out the runner” philosophy?”
    Sure, but why have to go to all the trouble of researching a quality hypothesis when you can spend one minute jumping t a conclusion. Lackey, Schoenweiss, Ramirez, and Oki have allowed 3-4 SBs in 49.2 IPs. That projects to ~ 88 of 117 over a full season. In other words, average.
    The rest of the guys that have been with the RS quite a bit longer have allowed 35-37, projecting to 333 of out 352 over a full season. So what I’m seeing is that the ‘RS’ guys can’t hold guys on.
    Maybe what they should do is to allow the SB against the Crawford types, assuming they wouldn’t get them anyway, and trying to hold guys like Vlad, who should be thrown out.

  4. ecp - Apr 30, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    I have zero sympathy for the Red Sox on this one. They knew exactly what they were getting in Victor Martinez and they chose to ignore his defensive liabilities (even in the face of Varitek’s decline) in favor of offense. There’s a very good reason why the Indians had begun using him less and less behind the plate and playing him at first instead: His defense is not what it used to be. Other teams know this and they are exploiting it.

  5. David - Apr 30, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Those who watch Victor Martinez regularly have seen the poor mechanics that the Red Sox are trying to address. Martinez reacts slowly, does not smoothly adjust his body into throwing position, frequently double clutches, as if he wants another shot at squaring up his throw, and lurches akimbo into the actual delivery, which results in firing most of his throws about 5-7 feet above the second base bag.
    No one can argue that controlling the running game isn’t a function of contributions from both pitchers and catchers. Red Sox pitchers could surely do a far better job keeping runners close, side-stepping, holding the ball, varying the pacing of their deliveries, and blah blah blah, but it’s also unquestionably true that Victor Martinez has god-awful mechanics that could be adjusted by a skilled instructor.
    “Knowing what they were getting” and pitching philosophies don’t obviate the effort to improve Martinez’ own contributions to the complex equation.

  6. ecp - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    Knowing what they were getting may not obviate the effort to improve, but there is no excuse for not starting to make such effort long before now.

  7. Nasty Boy - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    The Blosux are a bunch of scumbags , they knew his defense was lacking . This is just another excuse for the so-called run prevention not working . Theo should be looking for another job .

  8. Rusty Shackleford - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    With all those bad habits, I wonder how Martinez managed to throw out 37% of attempted base stealers in his last full season in Cleveland in 2008. And 32% the year before that.
    Cry me a river Red Sox.

  9. Jay - Apr 30, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    Jay from LetsGoTribe.com here.
    Victor has long gotten a bad rap as a defender. He had a stellar defensive rep as a prospect, though, and as Rusty notes, he was plenty effective in 2007 and 2008.
    Much of the bad rap stems from the 2006 season, when runners stole on him with impunity. It came out only after the season ended that Victor had been playing with a fractured big toe on his left foot, which severely hampered his ability to fire off a snappy throw to second base. The Indians kept it a secret during the season for obvious, strategic reasons, but Victor’s reputation has never recovered.
    ecp writes: “There’s a very good reason why the Indians had begun using him less and less behind the plate and playing him at first instead”
    Actually, the Indians used Victor relentlessly behind the plate in every season, right up until his early-2008 injury. The reason the Indians started using him half-time at first base in 2009 had more to do with the rest of the roster than with Victor himself. Take a look at Ryan Garko and Kelly Shoppach’s 2008 numbers, and it should be obvious immediately why Victor started playing 1B more.

  10. Dan - May 1, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    No, it’s Martinez. How about bringing up Dusty Broan from AAA as he has a very good arm.

  11. Joey B - May 3, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    “No, it’s Martinez. How about bringing up Dusty Broan from AAA as he has a very good arm.”
    What was the SB/CS ratio last week?

  12. cheesehead420 - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    agreed he has never been known for his defense. He has been known for his offensive threat. Sounds like Cleveland got rid of him at the right time.

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