Last night, the Baseball Twitterworld was set on fire with a series of Tweets that claimed that the Miami Marlins were about to make a huge splash on their third day of existence by signing shortstop Jose Reyes. People RT'd the initial reports and the quick denials and speculated whether the Marlins would move Hanley Ramirez to third base or trade him.
During baseball's off-season this sort of news moves at a breathless pace and you can feel like you're a part of it with a computer and a Twitter client. There's no need for refreshing or slogging through hours of NBA highlights or talking-head NFL discussion on ESPN; it mainlines to your computer straight from the sources, whether said sources are reliable or not. It's a rush of information that's added a unique dimension to being a sports fan in 2011.
There's a caveat, though. While baseball's free agency period can be fun and breathless and exciting for the fans of teams that can sign players like Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes and Prince Fielder, most of the winter is made of creeping terror for the fans of baseball's little guys. When the Jose Reyes tweets starting coming across my screen last night, I closed my laptop and kept playing Call of Duty. As a Pirate fan, I'd already had my moment of Twitter-related baseball exhilaration for the weekend, but it wasn't excitement. It was pure fear.
It started on Friday afternoon with this Tweet from Jerry Crasnick: The ageless Jamey Carroll is close to signing a multi-year deal in next few days, I'm hearing. He hit .290 in 452 ABs w/ #Dodgers. My mind started whirring. The Pirates need a shorstop! They just signed Rod Barajas to a multi-year deal! He's like a million years old! Can he even play shortsop anymore? I'd rather have Ronny Cedeno! Oh god, I'd rather have Ronny Cedeno!!
Then, Crasnick gave a list of teams. Tigers, Rockies, Indians, Dodgers. There was a rumor the Braves were interested. The fans of these teams went into overdrive. "Jamey Carroll is a nice player and a nice guy," everyone said, "But a multi-year deal? Please noooooo!" Meanwhile, I started preparing for the worst. I pulled up his Baseball Reference page and his FanGraphs page, trying to find something that would assuage my fears. Trying to convince myself that maybe Jamey Carroll could play shortstop, even at age 38. I found that he's only played 220-odd games there during his extensive big league career, that he's really only played short regularly during his two years with the Dodgers, and that his advanced metrics there aren't awful, but they're not promising for a guy his age. There was nothing left for me to do but sit and wait and hope I'd get good news.
The good news came just a few hours later, when Crasnick reported that the Twins had signed him to a two-year deal to be their starting shortstop. The most positive reaction I found from any Twins fan was from Bill, who blogs at The Platoon Advantage. His take: not a bad deal, but they would've been better off with Nick Punto.
Some fans spend their winter dreaming of Jose Reyes. But me? I dream of Nick Punto.