Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Hunter presser

Torii Hunter's three-piece suit is a sharper look
than the new Twins jersey Terry Ryan is holding.
It sure didn't take long for the Torii Hunter signing to become official. Word leaked out Tuesday evening; by Wednesday afternoon Hunter was donning his new, no-pinstripe No. 48 jersey.

(For the record, 48 was worn last year by Lester Oliveros during his September callup. He'll get a new number for spring training; it will be his third since joining the Twins in the 2011 Delmon Young trade.)

And kudos to the Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino, the "prick" (Hunter's description) who dared ask the prodigal Twin about his lousy showings in the defensive metrics and about whether his foray into politics hurt him in the free agent market. Two tough questions, both worth asking about, and two more tough questions than the rest of the assemblage mustered combined.

To be sure, the question about the metrics would have been better directed to Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor. I don't care if a player knows his runs saved numbers or his UZR (ultimate zone rating.) I do care if the people responsible for evaluating talent know those figures. And I'm not satisfied with Ryan's dismissal of Hunter's low -- and declining -- ratings.

As for the question about Hunter's views on gays: He injected himself into the Arkansas governor's race by appearing in an ad endorsing the Republican incumbent on the basis of his opposition to gay marriage. Last summer he was quoted as saying he would have trouble with a gay teammate, then backtracked. Meanwhile, the Pohlad brothers are significant donors to Democratic candidates and causes, they gave heavily to the 2012 campaign against Minnesota's marriage amendment, and Bill Pohlad was one of the producers of the movie "Brokeback Mountain." There is a gap between Hunter and his new employers on this topic.

The split between the media folk who rely on access and the bloggers who don't on this signing is intriguing. The BBWAA guys love having Hunter back. He's glib, quotable, accessible. For a writer on deadline or a broadcaster in need of a soundbite, that's gold. And most of them will suck up to a guy like that. Berardino didn't. Good for him.

The blogosphere -- me included, even if I work for an actual dead-tree newspaper -- basically doesn't care if a player talks or not. We're interested in what he can do on the field.

And as a whole, we're not impressed with the signing. Yes, it's only for one year. And the $10.5 million price tag really isn't a factor. We see a 39-year-old (40 in July) whose numbers, despite his talk Wednesday of how consistent his production is, are in notable decline. We see a 2014 regular with a WAR (wins above replacement) roughly equal to that of part-timer Jordan Schafer. We see, in short, a signing that doesn't figure to make the 2015 Twins better.

A couple piece of real news out of the presser:

  • It is indeed the plan to move Oswaldo Arcia to left field so Hunter can play right. Arcia in 2013 looked even more uncomfortable in left than in right, but really, no alignment with both in an outfield corner figures to be good defensively.
  • Hunter has a full no-trade clause, so the speculation that the Twins can/will flip him to a contender in midseason is empty.


  1. If Terry R was buying a car, he just bought himself a rusted out, worn out sports car with no muffler system. If he had 10.5 million to spend there are many many more places that would produce a higher return.

  2. The full no-trade just means Hunter can control where he goes if they want to flip him at the trade deadline or in August.