Archive: November 14th, 2007

Buzz Baloney

I’m not crazy … there wasn’t this much “buzz” last winter, nor any other winter before. On the one hand it’s fun, on the other it can be annoying. I’ll stand by my theory that the “buzz machine” of traditional media has been turned on full blast due to the great success of fan blogs — particularly the outstanding job done by Matt Cerrone at MetsBlog. The newspapers and magazines have FINALLY caught on to the fact that the majority of people who read sports check their favorite blog first, so the best way to grab eyeballs is to get a linkback to their story on MetsBlog.

Matt, we applaud you sincerely for becoming the most important internet media outlet regarding the Mets. You have done and continue to do a fine job.

The side effect is that the “professional” writers are spinning up nutty stories as fast as they can dream them up — the more outrageous, the better, since those will have the better chance of getting picked up. Oh, and they want to be the “first” with the story as well — rarely does the second source make it to the blog posts. Which is a problem, since it seems the majority are actually manufactured opinions or rumors not checked for validity. Can’t blame them, though, since they’re losing their readership. Bottom line is the eyeballs, not the facts. But the term “buzz” now encompasses rumors, conjecture, and truth — how are we to tell what’s what?

I should have started this a few weeks ago, but better late than never. Beginning now, we’ll keep a selective log of the “buzz” here: Buzz Baloney. Once spring training starts in February 2008, we’ll go back and see which of the pundits were most reliable.

Part of the fun of baseball is keeping score, right?

If you see something that you think should be added to the Buzz Baloney list, drop me a line through the contact page. Thanks.


Yorvit? Say It Ain’t So

According to Newsday‘s David Lennon and Ken Davidoff, the Mets are about to sign Yorvit Torrealba.

Per the article:

“Having lost out on Jorge Posada, the Mets are wasting no time in trying to close a deal with Yorvit Torrealba, and it looks like an agreement could be struck by the end of this week.

General manager Omar Minaya, spurned by Posada’s decision to return to the Yankees late Monday, contacted Torrealba’s agent yesterday with the intent of moving ahead quickly, according to a National League official familiar with the situation.”

Let’s hope that this is pure, highly adulterated bunk.

And there is a good chance that it is, in fact, bunk. Check out the last few words in the above-quoted text, specifically:

“. . . according to a National League official familiar with the situation.”

Who might that be? Someone who does the contract filing in the NL offices? Possibly. If so, he / she would be a pretty reliable source, we’d think. Let’s hope that it instead is the cleaning lady for the secretary of someone who does the contract filing, and she got the names or teams mixed up.

As Matt Cerrone has stated several times over the past few days on MetsBlog, the fascination with Torrealba makes no sense. Let’s take a look at who Yorvit Torrealba is:

1. A very average defensive catcher.

2. A below-average offensive catcher.

3. A below-average offensive catcher playing half his games in a hitter’s park.

4. A catcher who never caught more than 76 games in a season before 2007.

5. A catcher whose career high in games caught is 113.

6. A player who has never had 400 at-bats in one season.

7. A batter with these career numbers: .251 Avg., .313 OBP, .391 SLG.

8. A batter who strikes out once out of every five times he comes to the plate.

9. A batter who grounded into 19 double plays last year — in less than 400 ABs.

10. A player who at age 29 is not expected to improve.

On top of all the facts above, there’s speculation that the Mets are offering Torrealba a three-year, $15M deal. WHAAAAA ? $15M for a mediocre to below-average catcher? Makes me think about strapping on my old shin guards and walking into Omar Minaya’s office to plead for a five-minute tryout. If I’m Ramon Castro, I may hold the pen for a few more days and then demand a similar deal. I don’t see a significant difference between Castro and Torrealba, other than the fact that Castro projects to be a better offensive player. Take a look at each player’s career numbers on Baseball Reference and you be the judge:

(go ahead, I’ll wait)

Ramon Castro
| Yorvit Torrealba

Back already? Good. Did you see what I see? Did you see two journeyman catchers, with nearly identical career offensive numbers? OK, Castro looks like more of a slugger, I’ll give you that.

The “buzz” is that Torrealba is highly regarded as a defensive backstop. Huh. That’s a funny one, especially since Yorvit was second to last in the NL in throwing out baserunners — he threw out 15 and allowed 61 SBs, for a 19.7%. As a catcher myself, I do understand that stolen bases are allowed more often by the pitcher than the catcher. But less than 20% is atrocious. It’s Piazza – like. Even Paulie managed 23%, with that rag arm of his and a staff of pitchers who often didn’t even recognize runners on base. Torrealba’s agent assures us that the throw-out percentage was affected last year by a strained shoulder. Excuse me? This is supposed to make us feel better? Not only is the guy remarkably mediocre, but also damaged goods?

The truth is, Torrealba was once considered a great defensive catcher, because he had a fantastic arm. He had a gun, in that other realm of rifles occupied by Yadier Molina, Pudge, Tony Pena, Benito Santiago — you get the idea. His arm was his number-one strength and his ticket to the big leagues. Without it, he would be a career AAA player or washing cars right now.

However, his arm is not what it once was. Torrealba injured his shoulder while lifting weights during the 2005-2006 offseason. He claims he was lifting weights to try to become a better hitter. (Strange, since most hitters get better not by lifting weights but by working in the batting cage. But what the heck do I know?) As a result he landed on the DL TWICE in 2006. Hmm … shoulder “strain” in 2007, two shoulder injuries in 2006 … kind of sounds like a chronic issue, doesn’t it? Appears that shoulder is not getting better. Suffice to say, his throwing will continue to be affected.

Throughout his career, Yorvit Torrealba was described as a highly enthusiastic guy with a fantastic arm, but not much bat and therefore projected as a solid “catch and throw” second-stringer. His teammates gush about his energy and excitability. Those were/are his strengths: strong arm and energy. Except, he no longer has a strong arm, he has an injured arm. And he’ll never hit — especially not at Shea. So the Mets will be committing $15M to a guy with a lot of enthusiasm. Great.

Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper and more productive to either a.) re-sign Paul LoDuca to a one-year deal or b.) wait for Miguel Olivo to be non-tendered? Hey, I’m not saying Olivo is a good choice, but he’s essentially the same player that Torrealba was (great arm, excitability), except with a bit more offense, and would be less expensive in terms of dollars and years.

Maybe the rumors are unfounded. Or perhaps, the Mets are signing Torrealba as a very expensive back up to the next backstop they acquire this winter.