Whenever big news happens — and big news certainly happened last night — a website such as the one you are reading right now tends to publish articles about the news frequently. The primary reason for this occurrence is that we currently employ nine regular contributors — from our newest in Josey Curtis all the way to the very top in Craig Edwards — and each one of us is capable of putting our own spin on Cardinal happenings. Thus, I am here to tell you that the Carlos Martinez contract extension will be a topic of Viva El Birdos discussion for at least the next couple of days, especially considering Martinez’s standing as a VEB favorite.
Let’s start by revisiting the sobering fact that the St. Louis Cardinals, after spending years at the top of the division, are no longer National League Central favorites. That designation now firmly belongs to the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. The Cubs finished 17.5 games ahead of the Cardinals last season. To help illustrate this deficit, the Cardinals would essentially have to acquire three Mike Trouts in order to overcome the Cubs (yes, I understand it’s much more complicated than that). In no fault of his own, general manager John Mozeliak acquired zero Mike Trouts this offseason.
However, given the relatively lackluster free agent crop and the otherworldly asking price attached to trade options, Mozeliak has seemingly made the most of this offseason — incrementally improving his ball club without decimating the farm system or resorting to “spending just to spend.” Brett Cecil was a strong, necessary, and underrated addition. Jaime Garcia, no longer viewed as a fit in the starting rotation, netted some young depth arms from the Braves. Dexter Fowler was a targeted from the very beginning, and the Cardinals refused to finish second this time around. Sure, some “middle-of-the-order” bats were missed out on, but they were “square peg, round hole” fits (referencing Edwin Encarnacion here) at best.
Thus, with less than two weeks remaining before pitchers and catchers officially report to Jupiter for spring training, Mozeliak looked internally to improve both the present and future of the Cardinals. Instead of going to an unnecessary arbitration hearing with his team’s best pitcher — something Mo said he was more than willing to do (which ended up being MoSpeak™ at its finest) — the general manager locked up their 25-year-old ace for the next five years, with reportedly two option years as well. Regarding the value of the extension for both sides, I will leave that to Alex Crisafulli (who has a post publishing at 10 A.M.) and Ben Markham (who is currently working on one himself).
Instead, I want to focus on the fact that we are now guaranteed the privilege of watching the filth that is Carlos Martinez’s repertoire for years to come. No, this isn’t meant to be one of Heather’s invaluable links posts. And I probably shouldn’t resort to shamelessly linking to my own articles, but for any new readers out there, an aggregate of my past Martinez repertoire articles could be of interest. In no particular order (except the first one, which is probably my all-time favorite):
- Documenting the strikeouts of Carlos Martinez (February 25, 2016)
- Behold the movement on the pitches of Carlos Martinez (June 10, 2015)
- Carlos Martinez’s “filthiest” pitches of 2016 (November 7, 2016)
- Comparing the repertoires of Carlos Martinez and Jose Fernandez (July 28, 2016)
- What’s up with Carlos Martinez’s changeup? (May 16, 2016)
- Breaking down the devastating slider of Carlos Martinez (May 27, 2015)
- An update on the changeup of Carlos Martinez (April 8, 2015)
- The best changeup on the St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Martinez? (January 21, 2015)
Even with the meteoric rise of Alex Reyes, Martinez possesses the staff’s best, most consistent repertoire. If Martinez continues to develop the slow curveball he threw as get-me-over pitches last season, he will have five pitches in his repertoire. These aren’t five “show-me” pitches, either, as four of the five are at the very least above average, with at least two flashing plus-plus ability. Martinez already has one All Star game nomination under his belt, and if he keeps developing, I project him to be a consistent Cardinal representative for the life of his new contract.
My intention for today’s comments section is for you all to provide your personal favorite Martinez moments. What’s funny is my probable favorite Martinez moment wasn’t even one of his pitches, but instead the following fielding play he made against the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2015:
Please share your favorites below.
Credit to @daniel_doelling for making the GIF way back when.