Best first name in baseball. "Merkin Valdez" is a close second, but only because of this definition.
During the Padres Open House, Jed Hoyer deflected a question about the team's back-up catching situation. Basically he just described the two minor league catchers acquired this off-season, Dusty Ryan and Chris Stewart. Implied in that comment was one of those two guys would suffice as the back-up to Nick Hundley.
Well Hoyer seems to have reconsidered that position, as yesterday the Padres announced they'd signed Yorvit Torrealba to a 2 year deal. OK, it's actually a one year deal ($1.25 million) with an option for a second at $3.5 mil. The club holds a $500K buyout clause for 2011.
Torrealba was rumored to want $6 mil for 2010. He must smoke crack, since in his best year (2007) he was only a 1.1 WAR player. In this off-season that's barely $4 mil. Even so, kudos are in order for Jed Hoyer's team since they brought him in for possibly two years at less than $5 million total.
Some comments on Torrealba. He is not an offensive force; in fact, his wOBA (.316) last year is the same as Nick Hundley's. Matt Klaassen wrote a catcher defense article over at Driveline Mechanics after the 2009 season ended. You can read the entire article at your convenience. The stats he looked at were
- Stolen Bases/Caught Stealing
- Wild Pitches/Passed Balls
- Throwing Errors
- Fielding Errors
and he took these for each catcher in the league, compared them to the league average, and added/subtracted the linear weight of each event, as appropriate, to come up with a total runs for each event. He then summed those values up to get a total runs number (NOTE: This is a GROSS over-simplification of his methodology, and you shouldn't judge what he did based on what I've written here. You really ought to read the article.).
Hundley is better at throwing runners out, but Yorvit is the overall better defensive catcher, at least he was in 2009, in terms of total runs allowed. Notice that Henry Blanco was the 7th best defensive catcher based on Klaassen's methodology, so you can see why the Padres were saddened when he didn't re-sign with the club.
I know Bud Black is high on Nick Hundley, but I can't help but wonder if there'll come a point in 2010 when Yorvit becomes the starter because he's better at preventing runs. Especially since preventing runs is one of the tenets of Jed Hoyer's philosophy. Keep in mind that 66% of all games played at Petco are decided by 3 runs or less.