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The Torii conundrum

Posted at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2006 by Ben Tesch (9 Comments)

Jayson Stark of ESPN brings up the topic that everyone around here knows has been hanging over our heads: What to do with Torii Hunter.

Keep him and try to catch the Tigers or White Sox (or both)? Or trade him and think about some other year, some other playoff charge in a season to be named later?

But even if they keep him, even if they don't trade him in the next month-and-a-half, their debate won't be over.

Within 10 days of the World Series, they have to make another decision:

Pick up Hunter's $12-million option for next year? Or buy him out for $2 million and let him slide down a free-agent escape hatch? Or there's Option No. 3 -- negotiate a new deal that locks him up until their new ballpark opens in (gulp) 2010?

So what will they do? What should they do? They have to keep him around. Except they can't possibly keep him around. What do they do? What would you do?

My initial reaction would be to keep him, at the very least through the next season. Sure, he's not the greatest in all aspects, but he's the right guy in the clubhouse, and I don't see any better options available for an already shallow outfield corps. It also would be a terrible business/marketing move by a team in need of fans and goodwill. Your thoughts?

Comments (9)

He's almost 31 and plays hard which means injuries are likely in the future and his best days are behind him. Denard Span is probably at least a year away, so find a stop gap veteran -- Kenny Lofton for next year.

If they are still 10 games back at the end of July, they should trade him, if not keep him and buy him out at season's end. Don't let PR or emotional attachements the long run, the franchise will be just fine w/o Hunter.

Posted by daveZ | June 26, 2006 10:42 AM

why can't hunter be the stop-gap veteran? it makes sense to keep him, even if he is more expensive, especially for a team that's going to still be competitive. plus what would the twins do with the money they save? blow it on defense-only shortstops, and thirdbasemen, DHs, and elderly pinch hitters who's reputations far outweigh their abilities?

kenny lofton is making about 3.5 million and is 38.

also, we're not trying to catch both teams, we only need to catch one. and the white sox have pitching issues, and the tigers have offense issues, not to mention that their pitchers are going to come down to earth eventually (outside of bonderman, they all pitch to contact, and that's not the most reliable way to shut out teams, as brad radke and carlos silva could probably tell you).

Posted by ryan | June 26, 2006 10:57 AM

$3.5 million is a far cry from $12 million and Lofton is just an example.....If I am running a team, I am not paying Torii Hunter $12 million for one year and I am not signing him until he's 35. The Twins got a good run from Torii, thank him, pat him on the back, show hime the door and let some big market team overpay him..............both parties will be just fine....

Posted by daveZ | June 26, 2006 11:51 AM

that's fair, but my point is that you can't say we can get a replacement veteran for 3.5 million if there aren't any viable options. i know lofton was an example, but who's gonna be a free agent veteran CF next year that's a decent option for coming close replacing the good fielding, the 25/25 power speed combo from the 6 hole, and any intangibles he supposedly has (not that i put much stock into intangibles, however they do seem to be the main reason readers of this blog have for kirby pucket being in the hall of fame)

melvin mora, darin erstad, steve finley, trot nixon, sheffield, david delucci, frank catalanatto, mike cameron, cliff floyd, and jim edmonds are the names that i'm seeing as options. i really wouldn't take any of them, (edmonds is through and sheffield might be, and will be too expensive if he tries to find out)

are there any names i'm missing?

Posted by ryan | June 26, 2006 5:58 PM

Why do you assume that Hunter is the "right guy" in the clubhouse? Don't you remember him calling out Mauer and Morneau in the paper last year when they were injured? Don't you remember him taking a swing at Morneau? I'm not sold that he's the great clubhouse guy. In fact, I think there's a chasm between Hunter and the young guys. That's pure speculation on my part, but no more speculation than your assertion that he's a great clubhouse guy.

What Hunter is for sure is a willing interview. He loves to get in front of the camera and talk. That does not necessarily mean that he's a good clubhouse guy. At all.

Posted by SBG | June 27, 2006 8:57 AM

it is what's said about him in every lavelle and hartman column, so it's not a completely random idea.

calling out underperforming players doesn't make him a bad clubhouse guy either. and it's a lot to assume that morneau had nothing to do with the fight. even though i'm not sure morneau ever talks

Posted by ryan | June 27, 2006 9:37 AM

Some outfield options who are free agents-to-be: Carlos Lee (Brewers, $8.5m), Juan Pierre (Cubs, $5.7m), Jose Guillen (Nats, $4m), Moises Alou (Giants, $7.4m), Cliff Floyd (Mets, $6.5m)...

Posted by Ben Tesch | June 27, 2006 10:11 AM

So, what is a fair number for Torii? $5M/yr? More?

If it's more, than trade him. A 26-year-old Torii may be worth $10M a year, but not a 31-year-old Torii.

Posted by TStahr | June 27, 2006 11:57 AM

cliff floyd is torii hunter with half the pay, half the production (plus five years). i've never liked pierre. his best seasons came in coors. if you thought hunter's morneau thing was bad, you'll love guillen. alou is like 80. and holy crap carlos lee is only getting 8 million?!?!? that's insane. can he play center?

When torii was 26, this was his line:
27 HR, 92 RBI, 9 SB, .261 AVG, .306 OBP

Now that he's 31, this is his pace with the same amount of ABs (564):
23 HR, 84 RBI, 12 SB, .262 AVG, .342 OBP (looks like somebody's been raising his OBP for the fourth straight year)

Posted by ryan | June 27, 2006 11:56 PM

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