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Justin Masterson-Victor Martinez Trade Revisited

Masterson Takes the Mound for Cleveland (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

When the Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians last July they sent Justin Masterson and prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to the Tribe. With Jason Varitek struggling mightily, Sox fans were thrilled to acquire an All-Star caliber catcher to take over.

Certainly Victor Martinez has performed with the Red Sox, hitting .336/.405/.507/.912 in 211 at bats last year and .297/.352/.503/.855 in 195 at bats so far in 2010, despite a very slow start to the season. How has his partner in Cleveland done and was the price too much to pay?

Big Jamaica

Masterson stormed through the minor leagues in 2007 making his way to Double-A Portland and forced the Sox to call him up with his continued success in 2008. At the time of the trade, it looked like the Red Sox were parting with a good bullpen guy or a serviceable starting pitcher – valuable commodities.

2008 88.1 3.16 1.22 68:40
2009 – BOS 72.0 4.50 1.35 67:25
2009 – CLE 57.0 4.55 1.59 52:35
2010 59.1 5.46 1.82 55:33

But since Masterson arrived in Cleveland, his record stands at just 2-12 with a 5.01 ERA. As a full-time starting pitcher, Masterson’s biggest weakness is exposed: left handed bats. During his career Masterson has held righties to a .210/.295/.309/.604 line while lefties have hit .310/.409/.465/.874 against him. In  2010, lefties are rocking Masterson while hitting an absurd .370/.467/.504/.971 or pretty comparable to how Albert Pujols has performed his season, .306/.420./560/.980, minus some power.

Lucky Lefty?

In 46.2 innings this year (37.2 at Single-A) Hagadone has been a bit of a mixed bag. The lefthander has a 2.51 ERA over 12 starts with a 1.44 WHIP while allowing just 6.8 hits per nine innings. His command is still an issue though, as Hagadone has walked 6.2 batters per nine innings to go along with his strong strikeout rate of 11 per nine innings. Given the way the Indians have developed lefthanders recently, such as Cy Young winners C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, the Indians may be able to help Hagadone with his control and have a valuable starting pitcher arriving on the scene by the time the team is competitive again.

Price Is Right?

Heading into the season Baseball America described Bryan Price as a low 90’s righty with a “strong fastball/slider combination” who needs to find a strong third pitch to really succeed as a starter. The Indians have apparently decided that Price won’t find such a pitch and have converted him into a reliever while promoting him to Double-A to begin the 2010 season.  In 23 innings this year, Price has a 4.70 ERA and a WHIP of 1.35 to go along with a superb 7.25 strikeout to walk ratio. Price has struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.6 batters per nine.

So Far, So Good

While the Red Sox are the clear winners so far in this trade, Price and Masterson are just 23 years old and Hagadone is the old man at 24. All three prospects are not without struggles, after all not everybody can be Stephen Strasburg. Masterson needs to find a way to get lefties out to remain a starter. Hagadone needs to work on his control and cut back on the walks if he hopes to remain a starter. Price has already been converted to a reliever and so far is thriving but this comes at the abandonment of his development as a starting pitcher.

About Mike Carlucci

Mike Carlucci writes about the Red Sox for Sports of Boston and can be found blogging about baseball and technology. He has a J.D and enjoys palindromes and espresso. You can follow him on Twitter @mikecarlucci or on Google+.

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2 comments for “Justin Masterson-Victor Martinez Trade Revisited”

  1. How about you revisit this trade now?

    Martinez equaled a free agent compensation pick, but Masterson has turned into an elite AL SP for dirt cheap. The Sox would have been unstoppable with Lester Masterson and Beckett.

    Posted by Mike Hosmer | August 23, 2011, 4:37 pm
  2. I think it was still a good trade. The Red Sox with Victor Martinez had a good enough roster to make it deep into the playoffs. They didn’t, but it wasn’t because of the trade.

    The Red Sox sold high on Masterson, who proceeded to struggle in Cleveland. He had issues getting out left-handed batters and some trouble with the long ball. That said, the Sox continued to try and reacquire him.

    In the meantime, we can look at Matt Barnes, drafted by the Red Sox this June with the Tigers’ first round pick. He might let the Red Sox “TiVo” a Masterson-type pitcher for a future day when the team doesn’t have such a crowded rotation.

    Posted by Mike Carlucci | August 27, 2011, 11:01 am

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