Three Years with Yorvit
At this point, it doesn’t make much sense to criticize Omar Minaya on the signing of Yorvit Torrealba. The deal is done, and Yorvit is more or less guaranteed to be the starting backstop come April. And, he’ll likely be around for at least another year or two beyond 2008. So, we may as well get used to Yorvit — the sooner the better.
Several pundits and bloggers have explained away the seeming insanity of handing a three-year, $15M contract to a career backup catcher with Rey Ordonez-like punch and a barky shoulder. As I mentioned earlier this week, this deal makes me think about strapping on the old shin guards and walking into the offices of MLB GMs — even as a washed-up, 37-year-old, semipro wannabe with two herniated disks. Heck, I’d be OK with the “paltry” two-year, $6M contract they’d likely offer. (Did I mention how wonderful I am at calling a game and working with pitchers? Or my over-the-top enthusiasm and energy? Or my knowledge of 30 very common Spanish phrases?)
Anyway … as much as it appears to be insanity to know-nothing bloggers such as myself, I suppose we have to give Omar Minaya the benefit of the doubt and believe that he knows something that we don’t. My guess is that he’ll extol the intangible, non-statistical strengths of Torrealba — the high-strung enthusiasm and energy, the remarkable ability to handle pitchers, his propensity for throwing down the correct fingers in calling pitches, yadda yadda yadda. In other words, Minaya will completely skirt the fact that Torrealba’s .255 average in a hitter’s park last year was a career high, and that for the next three years we can expect the backstop position to resemble the days of Jerry Grote as far as offense is concerned. (Matt Himelfarb, please feel free to enter the conversation here and let us all know just how statistically awful Yorvit projects to be.)
But — and this is a huge but — Minaya could somehow be right on with this signing. I am not too proud nor embarrassed to admit that I thought that Omar was completely off his rocker when he signed Jose Valentin, Chad Bradford, and Endy Chavez to contracts during the winter of 2005-2006. The Valentin signing in particular got my goat — it seemed to me to be the stupidest, most nonsensical deal imaginable. Yet, I ate crow when Valentin proved to be an outstanding all-around second baseman in ’06, and got used to crow after watching Bradford become a bullpen stopper and Chavez evolve into a fan favorite and role player of legendary proportions. By the end of 2006, I came to understand that Omar knew much more than me, which explained why he was GM of the Mets and I was toiling as a nondescript blogger.
So before I go ape crazy yammering about how awful a move this Yorvit Torrealba signing is, I’ll keep quiet and wait to see what happens. As fans, we were beside ourselves witnessing the lack of drive, energy, and motivation during most of 2007, so perhaps the high-energy Torrealba is exactly the antidote we’ve been craving. Maybe his enthusiasm alone will make up for his rag arm and lack of offense. Who knows, maybe his arm will magically heal and his offensive skills will suddenly advance. For all we know, this time next year we will be thinking, “how did we ever doubt the importance of Yorvit Torrealba?”