May the Toronto Blue Jays Present to You: Russell Martin


What does one really expect these days? The Blue Jays presented their latest acquisition during a traditional presser Thursday at Rogers Centre. It had the proverbial jersey put on, the wry smiles from Alex Anthopoulos and Russell Martin and the same old questions from the presser junket sent to cover the conference.

It had all the pomp and circumstance you would expect…though I actually expected one of those cool Jumbotron videos of Russell Martin’s career to this point. Lots of dirt splayed, tight closeups of his bushy beard during the Pirates days. Shots of Martin screaming with enthusiasm for throwing out a runner or talking up a teammate making a close play. That is what we were opined to hear during the press conference of the 5yr/$82M dollar man-bot that is Martin. Let the superlatives flow!

Martin stated through wide eyes and a cheshire cat smile that he was “really happy” to be coming to Toronto. Then he said it again…in FRENCH! I found it amusing that before each question from the Montreal media they would say “ens Francais” which means to all to all our American readers and high school dropouts “in French”. Well good on Alex and Russell to answer as they were asked to…though they shouldn’t have to be told this before each question from RDS or whomever….but I digress…

Martin cited a few reasons for wanting to play in Toronto. The two that stood out most were his ability to garner a 5th year in the deal and the simple fact it is so much easier for his family to come to Toronto without having to go through customs…now we know how the other side feels, right Canada?

I found it intriguing as to how much AA tried to boast this as the best signing he could possibly have made. He called Martin the “total package” with “no holes” in his game. well yes after last year he looks awesome but he still was not exactly a huge factor with the bat before his BABIP skyrocketed last year to 50 points over his career norm. That isn’t to say he isn’t one helluva player because he is. He throws out more runners than Dioner Navarro did and he truly is a leader who has won everywhere he goes (7 playoffs in 9 seasons).

Is Martin the answer? He talked about his “pride in framing pitches” which is a great tool to have catching possibly three young starters and a Dickey. He mentioned that “it takes everybody” for pitchers to be successful when asked about his role in procuring a truly great season our of Gerrit Cole et al with the Pirates. He mentioned the coaches, training staff and everyone he could think of that would help a pitcher be successful, most importantly the pitcher himself.

The AA proclaimed game changer came a across as a warm, friendly guy who believes in the development of team baseball. Everyone helps each other out. It is intangibles like this that stand out and you could see through the smile of his freshly shaved…well trimmed beard that he is the type of leader this team sorely lacks.

Perhaps he is the start of a culture change in Toronto. Perhaps this starts a bit of a wheeling and dealing on the part of the Blue Jays. The time is now. If we can use this as a first step of the off-season and not THE step of the off-season then we may have a good chance for October baseball next year. Martin is a great cog in the Blue Jays wheel but he’ll need a few more to get it rolling right.