Here's How Rumors Get Started

Let me preface this by saying that I met Rob Neyer last year at BlogWorldExpo, have enjoyed all his books, and generally think he's a knowledgeable baseball writer. On his blog today, there's this almost throwaway paragraph:

According to this unsigned article, the Mets are interested in signing Trevor Hoffman or Kerry Wood as their new closer, and perhaps "acquiring a set-up man such as Colorado's just-acquired Huston Street in a trade."

The "unsigned article" he refers to is this one from the Poughkeepsie Journal. The article's primary topic is the Mets' apparent interest in Trevor Hoffman:

And according to one baseball executive, the Mets’ discussions seem to be leading them away from the top candidates and instead toward the possibility of signing San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman and acquiring a set-up man such as Colorado’s just-acquired Huston Street in a trade.

Following me so far? The only mention of Kerry Wood in that article is here, in a single sentence:

The belief is that a Hoffman or Kerry Wood can be had for a less-pricy, shorter-term deal than the price tags expected for [Francisco] Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes.

Now does that in any way say that the Mets have expressed interest in Wood or contacted him? It appears to be nothing more than speculation from the writer (who, as Neyer says, isn't even named), who needed another name to throw out there because just mentioning Hoffman isn't enough.

Now, someone might see Neyer's post -- or this one -- and send it to MLB Trade Rumors, where it would take on a life of its own. Now, we happen to know, thanks to a BCB reader, that Wood was spotted on a plane heading to NYC last week. So perhaps the Mets do have some interest, and given the state of their bullpen, if true it's not surprising.

But the Poughkeepsie Journal article has no facts, just guessing. And that seems to be the case for the source of a great number of baseball signing or trade rumors these days.

Here's another good example: this cubs.com article about the Mark Teahen rumors, being discussed at length in this FanPost. The relevant passage in that article is:

Kansas City "is focused" on Cubs left-hander Sean Marshall and infielder Mike Fontenot while discussing a possible trade for outfielder Mark Teahen, according to the Chicago Tribune.

And what was this Chicago Tribune article? (cubs.com didn't even bother to link it!) It was in the "Whispers" sidebar to Phil Rogers' column yesterday -- not even in Rogers' main column! Here's what Rogers wrote:

Kansas City is focused on Sean Marshall and Mike Fontenot in talks with the Cubs about Mark Teahen.

That's it. Nothing more. No sourcing, no quotes, nothing more than "is focused".

Personally, I think these breathless rumors should be left to simmer for a while. Most of the Cubs' best deals have been the ones that no one hears about before they happen.

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