Monday, January 20, 2014

The Worst Cardinal In My Collection

I have a couple of posts that I owe a couple of different people I am going to try to take care of over the next few days.  First up is a question I was asked a month or two ago and it took me awhile to narrow down the list to one finalist.  I had actually thought about making my list favorite Cardinals into a list of four or five, but one player clearly stood out for both his poor play and horrendous behavior.  So, my least favorite Cardinal in my collection....

2002 Upper Deck Game-Worn Gems Tino Martinez Jersey

Tino Martinez and it's not even close.  When I was asked the question he was the first name that popped into my mind, but I took my time to make sure I wasn't jumping to a quick judgement.  I will say this up front: I really do not like Tino Martinez.  Here's a little background information on the Tino Martinez Cardinals years.  Mark McGwire's final season with the Cardinals was in 2001.  At the time Albert Pujols was a third baseman.  Pujols did play the outfield starting in 2002 to make room for Placido Polanco at third.  All of this meant that first base was open.  The Cardinals signed Tino Martinez to a three year 21 million dollar contract on December 18th, 2001. 

It did not take Martinez long to be the well deserved goat on the 2002 Cardinals.  Tino seemed to excel at hitting into double plays and killing rallies.  Tino failed to hit a single home run during his first month on the Cardinals and posted the incredible line of .221/.370/.284 with one home run in high leverage situations.  Just for comparison utility player Eli Marrero posted a .364/.416/.662 with 6 home runs. 

And it goes downhill from there.  Tino managed to publicly miss New York and wonder out loud during an interview if Yankees fans were better than Cardinals fans.  There was also his awesome performance in the playoffs when he posted a 2 for 25 line in the 2002 postseason for the Cardinals with exactly no extra base hits.  Most Cardinals fans doubted Martinez love for St. Louis.  His baseball cards did not help. 

2002 Upper Deck Jersey Tino Martinez

The Yankee relic pieces on Martinez cards were noted by most Cardinals fans and made these cards just as unpopular in the hobby shops as Martinez play on the field.  2003 roled in and Martinez was slowly phased out by the Cardinals.  The Cardinals frequently subbed Martinez out of games in favor of moving Pujols to first base and putting So Taguchi and Kerry Robinson in left field for defense.  The sole highlight of Tino's time with the Cardinals came when he got into a fight with Miguel Batista.  No video available, only this picture from 

Since his retirement from baseball Tino has taken up coaching, but resigned from his last gig as the Marlins hitting coach for abusing players. 


  1. To this day, I don't know what Tino's problem was in St. Louis. Players seems to universally love playing in St. Louis and it was very unusual to see a player not enjoy the city. Always thought he was weird from that point.

    1. I think Tino's a pretty weird guy, but there have been a couple of players who have wanted out of St. Louis. I think Tyler Greene was the most recent. Doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

    2. Ha! Tyler Greene is barely a baseball player at this point.

      I have nothing against Tino (aside from the player abuse stuff). He was just one of the rare big name Jocketty-acquisitions that didn't work out. Fortunately, his time at 1B with the Cards was brief.