Mets Target Torrealba, Eric Cries Into His Hands

Several hours ago, rumors surfaced indicating that the Mets will present a multi-year offer to former Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, and tomorrow's New York Times will feature a Ben Shpigel column to the same effect. The Mets were already closing in on a perfectly reasonable two-year deal with Ramon Castro, and I find myself utterly mystified by the idea of pursuing Torrealba at all, let alone on a multi-year deal.

I have no idea who started the rumor that Torrealba was anything special in the first place, but I'm more than happy to put an end to it here. Yorvit Torrealba is not a good baseball player. ESPN's Keith Law recently unveiled his Top 50 Free Agents of this offseason and Mr. Torrealba appears nowhere on the list. Paul Lo Duca comes in at #32, thirty spots beneath the only other catcher on the docket, the recently signed Jorge Posada.

Torreaba turned 29 in June and has 1332 career at-bats to his credit. His composite batting line for those at-bats is .251/.313/.391 and an underwhelming OPS+ of 80. That line includes the .255/.323/.376 he hit in 2007 while playing half of his games in Coors Field. His 2007 OPS+ was 75, worse than his career mark! How exactly is this guy an attractive free agent target? He appeared in only 113 games this year, destroying his previous career high in games played of 76, split between San Francisco and Seattle in 2005.

The one thing he has going for him is his throwing arm. Despite nailing fewer than 20% of attempted basestealers in 2007, he has nabbed better than 32% of them over the course of his career. Great. He sounds like a wonderful backup catcher who can spell your real catcher by shoring up the defense on the starter's days off. This is the sort of commodity you could pluck from a list of minor league free agents or even from your own farm system, not someone you should feel compelled to pay good money for multiple years.

If the plan is to sign Castro, pray for good health, and bring in a second catcher to fill in the gaps, fine. But shouldn't that second catcher be able to hit a little bit and not cost an arm and a leg? Further, if the intention is to make Torrealba the starting catcher, the Mets would be better off -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- just bringing Paul Lo Duca back for another go-round.

Are you happy, Mets? You made me say something nice about Paul Lo Duca. I hope you're proud of yourself.

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