I have read many e-mails over the past few days concerning what has now become a reality: The Mets acquisition of the highly sought-after Free Agent, Yorvit Torrealba.
This might be the least-heralded Free Agent signing for the Mets this side of Shane Spencer, but hold on, before we start tearing out our hair, let's dig a little deeper and examine the game plan.
With the LoDuca/Castro tandem, you weren't exactly dealing with the world's greatest skill set. LoDuca's defense was marginal. Castro's was OK. LoDuca also basically had hit his peak in 2006, and was pretty terrible at the plate all told in 2007, despite an increase in power, but considering he was popping HRs in places like Cincinnati, how much stock can be put in that. I'm not going to go and throw LoDuca under the bus, I think he was a good guy to have around, or at the very least an entertaining guy to have around in his two years here, but the press seemed to pick on him at every turn, whether it was the horses, or the penthouse wife, or the MySpace girls, or the English comment, it seemed like he was just a magnet for the ire of the Media. As Metstradamus brings up here, that doesn't seem to jive well with the philosophies of Freddie and the Boy-King, who spend a little too much time reading what's being written rather than examining things for themselves. Plus he's about to hit that age where Catchers hit the wall and don't come back. But I digress.
What we have here are two catchers now, who will probably split the time, I would guess 60/40, where Castro gets the 60%, until he inevitably gets hurt since his offseason conditioning schedule involves running for another helping at the buffet. What I would expect is some relatively improved defense at the catcher position at the sacrifice of some offense. We know Castro will hit. We don't know (or at least don't think) that Torrealba will hit much; his home/away splits will tell you that he was markedly better at Coors Field than anyplace else. What I would hope happens is that the two split the time, each of them has what is for them a decent season, and neither of them will be totally worn down by the time September comes around, which was always something we had to worry about when Piazza was here, and to a lesser degree, LoDuca. I will say that Torrealba is younger and in markedly better shape than Castro, but we are looking at carrying about 800 lbs worth of Catcher on the roster next season.
Furthermore, I believe the Mets interest in Torrealba is based on his name. Broken down, it comes to Torre and Alba. Now, Torre already being a known and trusted Baseball name in New York should add to his marketability; despite Torre's failures as Mets manager a generation ago, he redeemed himself with a very successful run with the Yankees, and is now revered. Alba is most closely associated with Jessica Alba, the attractive starlet making the rounds in the Hollywood Circuit, and should certainly improve the Mets sex appeal.
All these things considered, it is hereby a wise move from a team marketing standpoint, which took a major hit this past season, to redeem themselves by bringing in Torrealba.