16 October 2002

Twins' Decisions

Aaron Gleeman did a nice breakdown on the pending contract issues between the Twins and their CF. He contends that the Twins will probably sign him for something like 4yrs@$8million each, based on their desire to continue to win, to make good PR, and on the fact that Darin Erstad, a similar if not inferior player, recently signed for 4 yrs @$32million.

I think it would be great if they were able to sign him for 4 years at $8mil per, but I doubt it's likely, or even necessary. Erstad may have signed for only four years, but he's a year older than Hunter and the trend seems to be toward longer contracts, not shorter. If stars in their mid twenties to early thirties (Giambi, Hampton, Helton, A-Rod, Jeter, Ramirez, Williams, Mussina) are signing 7 to 10-year deals, it seems to me that Erstad's comparatively short contract was the exception, not the rule. Hunter, if his agent is worth his salt, won't settle for less than 6 years with an option for 7.

Plus, Erstad didn't have the leverage of being able to say that he's the best player on that team. Hunter does. I don't see him signing for less than 6-7 years and $9-10 mil/each, which will likely price him out of Pohlad's market. And it may be just as well, if his historic lack of plate discipline and newly-found defensive mediocrity continue. Rob Neyer, as usual, goes a little more into depth discussing several other decisions the Twins need to make, and it seems fairly logical to let Hunter go and allow their corral of young, stud outfielders to get some more playing time, especially since Hunter has probably peaked and some of the youngsters may have higher ceilings.

I like the Twins. I like how they've been able to finally climbout from underneath the pile of financial rubble heaped upon them by their ownership. And I'd like to see them continue their success, if only to give the Indians someone against whom to compete, but now is not the time to get sentimental. Recognize your strengths (outfielders) and use them to fill weaknesses (infielders). Recognize where you underperformed this year (starting pitching) and try to improve to compensate for where you overperformed this year (relief pitching). Gosh, it all seems so simple now.

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