|Andres Torres- commander of cable cars|
Backup position players signed for cheap don’t typically generate buzz or require a whole post dedicated to them. This is like the Red Reporter creating a storystream dedicated to the signing of Jack Hannahan.
But of course, Andres Torres is not just a backup outfielder picked for insurance. He's one of the most likeable Giants to ever put on the cream white uniforms. When you ask about a Giant free agent’s character, you ask how nice he is on a scale of A.J. Pierzynski to Andres Torres. Torres embodied the Willie Mac award, and it probably helped he was a major contributor to the first World Series title in 58 years. That always helps.
Torres was traded to the Mets last season after a subpar 2011 injury riddled season with the Giants, however he did throw a lot of rocks with his shirt off so I mean that’s always a plus. Torres played for the Mets last season, which probably gives you a good indicator of how his year went. He hit a whopping .230/.327/.337 and put up his worst defensive numbers of his career. He is also entering his age 35 season which tends to mean you’re about to enter the crapper. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s not going to reach his 6 WAR value from 2010. And in all likely hood, he will catch some nagging injury somewhere this season that will affect his play and he will continue to be more of what we saw last season.
However, it’s not like this was a signing purely based on nostalgia and emotion. Take away the part about him being a World Series hero and all around wonderful human being, and I would still be perfectly happy with this signing. For one, there is no risk because he’s signed for 2 million dollars. In addition, it’s a move that increases and improves depth especially when you consider he’s replacing Xavier Nady’s roster spot. And most importantly, is that Torres still has value. Assuming the Giants are still trying to find a platoon partner for Blanco and Torres in left field, the move is very low risk given the upside.
Upside and 35 year old outfielder usually don’t mix. And they very well may not in this case. But we just don’t know if there is or is not. Throughout his entire career, Torres has been a gold glove caliber outfielder and then some. He has a career UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games) of +16.1 which is excellent. That number would have ranked him 5th among outfielders last season. That’s in his career of over 3500 innings worth of defensive games, so even though defensive numbers are tricky, they become more precise as the sample size increases. In the last 3 seasons, Torres has the highest UZR/150 of any qualified outfielder of +17, which is 3 higher than the next best (Gerrardo Parra +14.1). Dude can cover some ground.
Now obviously, he is now becoming an old baseball player. Last season was one of the worst seasons defensively of his career, with a UZR/150 of just +3 almost average. This can be attributed to a couple things. One is that it may be that he is just an old man. But that is kind of depressing to think about, and that’s not what we’re about here! For one, Torres strained his quad on opening day, and my finding shows quads are in your legs, which are used to run. How about that. Who knows if the injury lingered throughout the season, but I’m inclined to believe that if you miss a month because of a quad, the injury is serious enough to where it affects you the rest of the season.
His defensive numbers were probably also lackluster because he way have had to adjust to Citi Field and it’s new subtleties. With new teammates and new surrounding with different dimensions, it could also be his numbers took a slight hit because of it. Now I’m going to end this paragraph because after thinking about it this excuse is becoming more and more far fetched. But it could happen!
The point is, there are concerns with Torres but for 2 million dollars the reward is worth the risk even if that reward is just a rich mans Gregor Blanco. Torres has been an elite defender for the past few years, and before last season was the absolute best at his position. He now returns to a stadium he knows well, and without diverging to much to into the ambiguity of intagibles, there’s something to be said for a former above average player returning to his comfort zone.
The Giants signed Andres Torres, a player for low cost with an upside of one of the best defensive oufielders in the game. You had me at Andres Torres.