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Epstein on Victor Martinez: ‘A Great Fit for Our Club’

07.31.09 at 8:32 pm ET
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On why the Sox went after Martinez:

We think Victor Martinez is a great fit for our club and provides a significant offensive boost, and he does it with some versatility that compliments our roster really well. He can catch and give ‘Tek a little bit of a rest behind the plate and he can play first base and get some at-bats there with Youkilis’ versatility, and he can DH a little bit. So we thought it was a good fit for our roster and provides some offensive support and some depth at the same time.

On also going after pitching:

We were involved in some talks that could have led to some pretty good starting pitchers becoming available, but it didn’t turn out that way, and I don’t think we’re going to see much impactful starting pitching move in August. We like our pitching staff, and our run prevention’s been pretty good.

We have to do a better job than we’ve been doing lately, but you’re always looking for an impact starting pitcher if you can find one, especially this time of year, but it didn’t come to pass. We have a lot of pitching and I like our run prevention generally.

On trading LaRoche:

LaRoche did a nice job while he was here. We felt all along like he was the best for us if he had close to everyday at-bats, at least every day against right-handed pitching at-bats at first base, and with the addition of Victor Martinez, now there aren’t quite as many at-bats available at first base. With LaRoche’s timing mechanism with his swing and with his approach in general, he kind of needs to play to be productive, he needs to play every day or close to it, whereas Casey Kotchman has a little different approach at the plate that might play better, a little different type role, and Kotchman also is an elite defender, and somebody you could see coming into the game late for defense on days when Victor Martinez starts at first base.

On what this all means for Kottaras:

Nothing yet, obviously once the players report we’ll have corresponding roster moves.

On Martinez’ role in Boston:

As we contemplated his acquisition and talked with Tito about possible fits we all agreed what seems to make sense is a similar role to what he had in Cleveland where he had the ability to catch but not do so every single day — [it] wears his legs down — and then spend enough time at first base and DH to stay fresh, and that works for our club because Jason Varitek is and has been and will continue to be a very important part of the club and of our pitching staff.

On Martinez getting used to the new pitching staff:

It will be a process, but I think with his makeup that that should be a smooth process. He’s very conscientious, he’s the ultimate teammate, cares about winning and really does see his job when he does catch as defense first even though he provides the big bat. So he’s going to jump right in, he’s got some shared history with John Farrell, our pitching coach now. I see it as a very smooth process. It’s never easy in the middle of the season, but I think he’s going to jump right in and be up to speed pretty quickly.

Was it a frustrating day, with things that came close but didn’t work out?

Not today. In previous days we had some things working that we were really excited about, and a couple that got really close and then didn’t happen, but that’s par for the course in trade deadline season. I think we shot big on a couple things, deals that could provide maximum impact, and we were very aggressive in use of our own prospects. Those deals got close but didn’t happen. Maybe a foundation was laid for the offseason. Who knows? But in the end, we wanted to make sure that we had a deal that we could come back [to] and make, a deal at a reasonable acquisition cost and for a player who provides impact in his own right, and we were able to do that today, so it went somewhat according to plan where we knew if we did shoot for something really big and ended up missing, we didn’t want it to affect our ability to make a useful move, and that’s how it went down.

On dealing prospects:

Time will tell. I think generally we felt great about our depth. There were some deals that we were talking about which included giving up five or six good prospects, and even those deals, had they gone down, we looked and liked what would have remained in our system. So yeah, we feel great about what remains in our system and our ability to continue a flow of young players up to the big league level and/or use them in deals, but it hurts to give up players you believe in. Any time, it hurts.

First and foremost, Justin Masterson: this is a special individual and someone that we’ve come to really admire. Since he joined the organization he’s done nothing but affect people and influence people in a really positive way—his teammates, the front office, the fans—and accomplished a lot on the field, so it’s tough to see him go. Nick Hagadone: great kid who recovered from Tommy John surgery, worked really hard to get back on the field in almost record time, and just a few weeks ago was throwing the ball incredibly well, and he’s got a big future ahead of him, so it’s hard to include him in the deal as well. Bryan Price has only been in the organization for a short period of time, but another good kid who is an outstanding arm, so I think we do have a lot of depth, and especially with our pitchers, so we hope we have that organization that can afford to move pretty good arms. I think we do, but it’s never easy to do that, especially when you have personal attachments.

On controlling Martinez through next season:

I don’t think we would have moved these players, even for an impactful player back who was a free agent at the end of the season. I think having him for all of next year and having him fit next year’s club really well was a big part of this.

Read More: Bryan Price, Indians, justin masterson, Nick Hagadone
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