The universe is uncaring and pointlessly cruel. It barely notices us. Why should it? We are but specks, toiling for a flicker of a galactic second before passing on into the ether. But surely there’s some rhyme or reason to it all. What else make the Cleveland Indians keep signing Michael Martinez? For what seems like the thirtieth year in a row though, the broken Swiss Army knife has a shot to make the roster, even if it’s slim. For some reason it’s hard to shake the feeling that he will. But seriously, why? What is happening in this world?
Is it the versatility?
This is the most common argument. Martinez can allegedly play three or four positions. He can spell Francisco Lijndor or Jose Ramirez or whoever is manning the infield, and possibly find himself in the outfield for some reason. You want to be able to rest your stars of course, and one game in 162 isn't going to ruin everything if Martinez is out there instead of Lindor. What about Erik Gonzalez though? Or literally anyone? And the Indians need the outfield to stash Kipnis if Ramirez keeps the second base job. Plus with Brantley coming back and Zimmer, Chisenhall, Guyer and maybe even Greg Allen getting playing time, what’s Martinez’s role? All those guys, even Allen and his 35 plate appearances, are better than Martinez. Wouldn't it make sense to give any of these players a chance to become something more than they have shown? They do actually have some potential. Let them realize it.
Maybe he's a "Clubhouse Guy"
Okay, if he's really good at building pillow and blanketforts or something, that's totally worth it. For the peace of mind of the players in general. And fun fort battles. Long season, etc. I do actually see some value in having guys around that can help usher younger, out of their element players that might have a major impact through the wrinkles of Major League Baseball. Mike Napoli and Juan Uribe were instrumental in Jose Ramirez's finding his place. Look how that turned out. But it seems kind of pointless now, this team has been together for years, been through a lot together. What can Michael Martinez do that Kipnis or Lindor or Brantley can't? Is he just super friendly and those guys are all real standoffish? It's hardto imagine Jason Kipnis or Francisco Lindor being standoffish. The idea of the good clubhouse guys is silly anyway - if a team is winning everyone gets along. Nobody is happy on a losing team, and Michael Martinez, as sweet as he might be, does not promote winning on the field.
He’s good at cribbage?
Terry Francona likes cribbage. His inner circle of players play cribbage with him. Is Michael Martinez a good challenge for the skipper? It's very possible. By inviting him to Spring Training, Terry at least gets a month to play with him, and then can better hone his abilities to finally conquer Carl Willis. I'm sure I'm not the only one who suspects Willis' addition to the coaching staff was because Francona needs vengeance for past cribbage brutalizations. I assume anyway.
Maybe he just has something on the front office, or Tito, ownership, something. It makes the most sense. He's really just not good. A Spring Training invite isn't a big deal, sure. But at this point there's got to be some kind of blackmail going on here, right? Teams don't just give money to bad players for no reason. And you want to protect your moneymaker. In a baseball player’s case, it’s themselves. When they can’t do baseball good they just have to take other precautions.
Maybe if he were 22 in stead of 35 years old it would make sense. But there's no upside here, no roll of the dice that comes back anything but snake eyes. A tire kick on an old player with some kind of superlative ability like tremendous power or seeing what some forgotten prospect (Mark Appel!!!!) still has in the tank, this makes sense. But bringing back a Francona Favorite for no real reason just screams of nepotism. The less Michael Martinez, the better. You'd think they would have learned this at the very, very end of 2016. They can't make that mistake again.