In order to make room for recently re-signed Scott Hairston and Ronny Cedeno, the Mets have placed Fernando Martinez and Danny Herrera on waivers. From a pure talent perspective, the transaction makes sense–but considering Martinez was once the team’s top prospect, seeing him go free as a bird is the end of an era.
Back in 2005, the Mets signed a young outfielder by the name of Fernando Martinez. At the tender age of sixteen, Martinez was heralded as the next great Mets outfielder; a reason to hope for the future. Since then, it seems like Mets fans have been hearing about Martinez as he’s plodded through the system. Finally, in 2009, F-Mart made his big league debut, and fell flat on his face. He received another short stint in 2010, which wasn’t any better. All the while, Martinez has battled injuries nearly every season, hampering his development. Such was the case in 2011.
Martinez only played in 11 games at the Major League level this year over two stints, taking the roster spot of players who landed on the disabled list. Only four of those appearances were starts, and he only recorded 23 plate appearances, so this year’s sample size is very small. F-Mart recorded five hits in 2011, including two doubles and a homer, walking once and striking out seven times. The long ball was a pinch-hit shot against the Astros in Houston which helped the team rally from behind.
The fact that Martinez didn’t receive a lot of playing time in the bigs isn’t that concerning, since the plan going into this year was to have him spend most of it at triple-A Buffalo. The bigger concern was that injuries continued to sideline the former top prospect the entire season, including a hamstring strain in April, knee soreness in June, and a left wrist strain in August, which ended his year. For such a young player, the volume of injuries is disconcerting, especially the leg troubles.
When he was in the lineup, however, Martinez did okay. For instance, in 250 plate appearances with the Bisons, Martinez batted .260/.329/.417 with eight homers, 18 walks and 60 strikeouts. Yet–even at age 23–Martinez’s former “top prospect” level has gone dry. Heck, with the amount of injuries and ineffectiveness he’s endured, he’s not even a “prospect.” For these reasons, his placement on waivers makes sense.
On the other side of the waivers coin, there’s Danny Herrera. For those who didn’t completely block-out the 2011 season, Herrera was the “key” return in the Francisco Rodriguez salary dump. Seeing as the southpaw hurled a 21.60 ERA, 4.20 WHIP, and 5.4 BB/9 (with zero strikeouts) in 1.6 innings for the Brewers, he was obviously expendable, to say at least.
Herrera’s first and more-or-less last full-season in the Major Leagues dates back to 2009 with the Cincinnati Reds. The left-handed pitcher, then 24 years-old, hurled 61.6 helpful innings, posting a 3.06 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 1.83 K/BB. However, 2009 was Herrera’s last fully successful season in the show. He started off 2010 well, posting a 1.08 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 5.00 K/BB during April, but managed just a 5.52 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, and 1.80 K/BB the rest of the way.
The Reds hid Herrera in Triple-A to start 2011, but placed him on waivers after 18.6 innings–prompting the Milwaukee Brewers to scoop him up. It was a prudent decision by the Brew Crew, as the lefty pitched a 1.48 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 4.88 K/BB in 42.6 Triple-A innings. Even though Herrera didn’t pitch to hot when he got the call (21.60 ERA, 4.20 WHIP, and 5.4 BB/9), he did own a magnificent 1.13 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 2.50 K/BB in 8 innings for the Mets.
The small sample size with the Mets is nothing to get excited about, but Herrera’s career .215/.280/.308 line against left-handed hitters is notable and useful. But with Tim Byrdak being the featured (and more experienced) lefty-specialist in the Mets 2012 bullpen, there was always a chance Herrera wouldn’t make the cut.
In all likelihood, another franchise will take a chance on Fernando Martinez–so his long tenure as a Mets farmhand appears to be over. However, Herrera’s lack of success in the Majors over the past few seasons could give the Mets the edge to retain his services.