Torres making his case for leading off

One of the main concerns for the Mets heading into this season was how they would go about filling the void at the top of the order that was left when Jose Reyes left for Miami.

While some petitioned for perhaps Daniel Murphy or Ruben Tejada to land the role, the odds on favorite was always Andres Torres. And if Spring Training games are any indication, Torres is off to a running start.

In seven games this spring, Torres has six hits in 18 at-bats thus far for a .333 batting average. As of Friday, Torres’ on base percentage (a major area of concern among his doubters) was a healthy .364. Torres also has collected two stolen bases and scored two runs so far. Not to mention Torres has also driven in four runs.

Of course, the sampling size is incredibly small and we’re only talking about Spring Training here, but Torres has shown a spark that was missing in his game last year. There appears to be more pep in Torres’ step as he tries to make amends for a poor season he had with the Giants last year.

If you read Brandon’s piece from Wednesday, you’ll realize Torres’ worth to the squad. Torres is an extremely hard worker whose passion for the game is contagious. Torres defense has never been questioned and he’ll undoubtedly be an upgrade over Angel Pagan.

Now it is up to Torres to keep it up and give the Mets a presence at the top of the order. While Torres has a little pop, his main asset will be his speed. No is going to confuse Torres with Reyes as they are completely two different players, but if Torres can get on base and swipe some bags and make way for the Mets’ hitters, he’ll endear himself to Mets’ fans.

Now, will Torres have enough mojo to keep this going all season? Maybe, maybe not, but at least his strong spring is instilling some hope.

Finding a capable leadoff hitter was always going to be a question mark for the Mets and if Torres can keep it up, it will validate the trade they made with the Giants when they shipped Pagan out of town.

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4 comments for “Torres making his case for leading off

  1. John
    March 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

    First let me say that I don’t think Torres is the long term answer to the Mets centerfield/leadoff situation. Nor do I think that Torres is anything more than an average MLB player.

    But you hit on a very important point when you said that he will be looking to make up for last year. And because of that he will be an upgrade on the average player who was there last year.

    Everyone needs to remember that almost every player in the ML is average. There are very few outstanding players even though teams pay a slew of them as if they are.

    Rather what differentiates teams from year to year is how well those average players perform in a given year. If some of them have good years and the rest of the team performs to the average the team is competitive in a given year. And since players are human there needs to be something that motivates them. Baseball is a long season and even the most dedicated athlete can lose his focus.
    So the key to teams winning is to lock up the true superstars during their prime years (26 to 32) and keep rotating the average players at reasonable salaries to allow the team to lock up those stars. And keep those average players on a short leash so they always have something to prove. When they have big years let them walk away for the huge salaries somewhere else. Because at the end of the day they will always regress to the mean. And if a few blossom late in their careers… oh well.

    For the last 7 or 8 years the Mets did the opposite. They were paying ridiculous amounts of money to average players and when it came time to lock up Reyes there was no money. Yes I know that the Madoff thing was part of it, but this is a team that is still on the high end of the payroll scale with nothing to show for it.

    So while I don’t think this year’s team is a playoff team, mainly because of the starting rotation, I don’t think they are any less competitive than they were the last few years. (Yea I know that is not saying much.) But the point is, it is not about how much the payroll is but rather how that money is spent. And this team is paying for the sins of the last 6 or 7 years.

    And let’s not forget that all those bloated contracts for average replaceable talent over the years was at the expense of the minor league system. Not just the slot signings, but also short changing the development staff leading to the utter lack of fundamentals of the players coming through the system.

    • Metsense
      March 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      John, can you support this theory about most players are average and the money should be spent on true superstars. I agree that the average players need to be moved before you pay them (like Pelfry in 2013) but how do you find the true superstar? Is Wright one? You stated Reyes is? I’m not arguing with you, because your post is very thoughtful and balanced. I am truly just curious. Is it better to have one true superstar at 20M+ or two very good players at 12M each? I haven’t researched this but it is a nagging thought in my mind. Enjoyed your post.

      • John
        March 18, 2012 at 10:36 am

        By definition most players are average. It is a matter of mathematics, approximately 1/2 are average, 1/4 below average and 1/4 above average. It is all relative. Few are elite.

        Since the level of play between that 50 percent is minimal, a lot of the results in a season depend on how well the group plays within the average range. If a team has more players perform at the higher range of average in the year they will likely win the division.

        I probably didn’t define superstars probably. I am talking about someone who dominates their position and has the mental makeup to continue to compete against himself and make himself better. There are not a lot of players who qualify. I am talking about Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Mike Schmidt or Tom Seaver type players. And yes someone like Derek Jeter (although there comes a time when they are no longer that player; only Joe Dimaggio left when he was still elite)

        As to Wright I am not sure. He seemed like it early in his career, but he has regressed. Maybe the result of the beaning. But in any case I don’t think he is an elite third baseman any longer. But I would definitely give him the year to rebound and prove that wrong.

        I have mixed emotions about Reyes because of his health and baseball instincts (let’s be honest he is not a good baserunner he just outruns his mistakes most of the time) but the point I was trying to make is that by spending big money on average players (after all they had a 145 million dollar payroll last year) they didn’t even have the option to consider him.

        As to your last question I would probably want the 20 million dollar superstar if I could find him. But there are only a handful. What I argue is the mistake most teams make is the 20 million dollar slightly better than average player.

  2. Richard Boehme
    March 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you Omar Minaya.

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