Despite the extreme angst from bloggers and tweeps over Jeff Luhnow's off-season signing of Jack Cust, I really didn't have a huge problem with it because of what I'd seen from the way that Luhnow had operated up to that point. And, of course, Cust was subsequently released and the whole thing became a non-issue. There were only two off-season Luhnow signings that were, to me, puzzlers ... Jose Martinez and Mike Hessman.
Let's start with 2B Jose Martinez. After Martinez was signed, the first problem was figuring out which Jose Martinez, as Baseball-Reference currently lists 23 gentlemen with that name having played in the minor leagues. Once I determined that this was the correct individual, I was immediately concerned with the holes in his resume. He sat out all of 2009, only played 6 games in 2010 and sat out all of 2011. So, what happened to Martinez? Bryan Trostel at Astros County performed his Google-Fu magic and found this.
Despite the injuries and tragedy in Martinez' past, Jeff Luhnow felt that there was enough talent there to give the 26-year old former Cardinals farmhand another chance. How has Martinez repaid him for that chance? Through nine games with Corpus Christi, Martinez has 11 hits, three doubles, one triple, one home run and thirteen RBI's (which leads the team). His batting line is .333/.385/.576/.961 with four walks and only two strikeouts. He has no errors. Certainly it is too early in the season to know if Martinez will continue to perform at a high level, but he was certainly worth taking a chance on.
On the other side of the coin, we have the 34-year old 1B Mike Hessman. Hessman is a career .231 hitter in 17 seasons in the minor leagues (.188 in 109 games in the majors). He spent last season playing for the Orix Buffaloes in Osaka, Japan hitting .192. He has 1942 strikeouts in 6010 AB's in the minor leagues. What does he have going for him, you ask? Home runs. Hessman is the career active leader in the minors with 330.
In Hessman's first at bat for Oklahoma City, he hit a home run. Is Luhnow on to something? Not so much, at least not so far. After hitting well in the first three games, Hessman is hitless in the last six. He is hitting .194 with two walks and 13 strikeouts. Obviously, the season is young and anything can happen but at this point, I would have much preferred to have seen Jimmy VanOstrand at first base in Oklahoma City.
Luhnow appears to be batting .500 on these two moves. I will be interested to see if that changes during the course of the season.