Didn't see that one coming either
Tony Reagins is off to quite a start, isn't he? He's been very aggressive improving this Angel team as quickly as possible, and not improving the team in one area by opening up a weakness elsewhere.
I've grown to like Orlando Cabrera after being initially critical of the signing, but we've got Maicer Izturis, who projects to hit just as well as Orlando anyway, and 3 shortstop prospects behind him. We traded a good player, but did not open up a weakness. Last year if we had traded for a bat down the stretch it would have cost us a starting pitcher, and that would have hurt us. Sure at times last year it looked like we had a surplus in starting pitchers, like when Saunders was in AAA and Bartolo opened the season 5-0, but in the end injuries and Ervin's struggles meant we needed every bit of our depth. In the Cabrera trade we moved a good player but most certainly did not open up a whole.
On to Hunter: While I've always like Torii, its hard to reconcile him being worth 18 million per year. Lets face it, we aren't going to win the wins per dollar spent trophy. That's OK, because I'm not interested in competing with Cleveland, Minnesota, and Oakland (well, the pre-2007 A's and Twins anyway). Nope, we're competing with the Yankees and Red Sox. All that talk about the Red Sox buying their way to a championship and being the new Yankees?
Well, F them. I want us to be the New Yankees! Yankees west, the Los Angeles Yankees of Southern California. I'll gladly take the hate from other fans, so long as my team gets the best players and wins lots of games.
Torii Hunter is not a great hitter, he's got good power but is noManny Ramirez, and his on-base skills are mediocre. But he's a very good all-around player. My Chone projection changes a bit with him playing in Anaheim, its 276/337/472 with 25 HR and 89 RBI. I'd be quite happy if he hit that. Its actually not an upgrade from Juan Rivera, who I assume will not break a leg this year. I've got Rivera at 279/334/466.
The upgrade is entirely on the defensive side. Without this signing Rivera would probably be the DH, with the same regular lineup as last year. While in 2006 I though Rivera should be in the field instead of GA, Rivera looked painfully slow at the end of 2007 and leg injuries like that sometimes take more than a year to fully recover (just look at Jermaine Dye). At this point I think Rivera at DH would have been the right call. With this signing I expect Rivera to be traded quickly for a low level prospect or even non-tendered.
An OF of GA-Matthews-Vlad comes in at -4 runs per 162 games, at least by my defensive projections. Splitting GA/Vlad in one corner, Matthews in the other, and Hunter in center gives us a +8. So its only about one more win. The signing does seem extravagant, but at least it does make this team better.
This team really is in a win-now mode, so overpaying for any kind of improvement is justified. With Hunter they got the best available player in this free agent market. If we accept that A-Rod really wanted to stay a Yankee, and we weren't going to get him anyway, the only competition Hunter had this year was Jones, Rowand, and Lowell, and I think he's the best of that group.
This lineup will look really good if there's one more move to go - and trade for a Miggy. Either one will do.