By MyFM's Jake Archer - It’s tough to admit you were wrong about something these days. Being a Red Sox fan makes it even tougher, because most of us are stubborn and hold on to how we initially feel about something for way too long. Well, I’m not doing that right now because I simply can’t. I’ve never been more wrong about one player than I was about Julio Daniel Martinez.
During the offseason, it was easy to be lukewarm on the idea of bringing Martinez to Boston. What did we really know about this guy? Well, he’d been among the best hitters in baseball during the past couple of years for starters. He’d been producing in small markets though, and that’s why he really didn’t get the spotlight that he probably deserved. On the Detroit Tigers, he was in the shadow of Miguel Cabrera. With the Arizona Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt was the man. J.D. had to perform at an otherworldly level to generate any buzz at all.
Even as JD was smoking the ball all over the yard, he didn’t get a ton of respect. How could this guy be doing this? He’d been released from the Houston Astros as recently as 2014, and the tools he possessed never made him a highly touted commodity. Was he cheating? It wasn’t that crazy to think that was possible. Even if he wasn’t, was he really this guy?
In hindsight, it sounds stupid. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think a guy who had built up his resume the way he had, no matter how quickly it was, was a fluke. Yet somehow I still sat and said the Red Sox would regret paying this guy the way he wanted to get paid. I mean, JD had entered free agency as the “premier bat” on the market and he was looking for over $200 million. That sounded like a classic overpay and I was terrified the Sox would pull the trigger.
I had other, more legitimate questions about Martinez that still make sense even now. Was he going to be happy with the money and stop producing? Could he be “the man” on a team? How was his body going to hold up, considering the fact that he’s had a history of hitting the disabled list at least once a year? All of these were real concerns, but they paled in comparison to the biggest obstacle I saw in agreeing with this signing.
It didn’t seem like Martinez wanted to play in Boston. As the offseason dragged on he, like so many others, held out for more money. Rumors floated about his frustration with the Red Sox and in my mind, all this guy wanted to do was go to the highest bidder. While I understand that he’s entitled to his money, I want a guy that wants to come in, compete and win. Was he going to be able to handle the pressure here? Did he already sour the fans in New England on him by acting this way? I certainly knew how I felt.
I was telling anyone who would listen (and writing on this website) that the Red Sox needed to pull their offer from Martinez off of the table. It didn’t matter that they’d already gotten him down almost $100 million. He was a diva and his demands about his contract and playing the outfield just signaled that all he would bring was drama. Why do this and put a band-aid on a power starved team when you could just wait a year and then make a play in the Bryce Harper market? Dave Dombrowski was going to ruin this team!
Now, May is about to turn into June and I couldn’t have been more wrong about Martinez. The man is a Triple Crown threat as he currently ranks 2ndin the MLB in RBI and homeruns while coming in at fourth in batting average. Every single at-bat for the slugger is appointment viewing and he’s provided the kind of pop the lineup desperately needed. Even his play in the outfield has been decent!
All of that is great, but you want to know why I really love the JD Martinez signing? The guy has just kept his mouth shut and mashed. He’s shown that he’s just a very meticulous student of the game, and he leads by example. Boston loves athletes that perform well, but they love them even more if their great results are a product of hard work over talent. Martinez is a great fit and I can’t wait to see what he does for the rest of this season.