Those of you who think I'm a Pollyanna because I'm happy that the Angels, not the Rangers, signed Hunter?
It ain't just me.
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Despite his type A ranking by Elias, Hunter's value to the team is rather dubious thanks to his age, multiplied by having a career year in a contract year. PECOTA projected him as a 45 VORP player, and he came in a bit below that at 39.2. Now, four wins is nothing to sneeze at, but he marks the kind of player the Angels really shouldn't be chasing; they need a Hall of Fame caliber bat, and Hunter simply isn't that. As a fix for the outfield, it reaches meh levels, with the usual caveats that Hunter's comps were either out of baseball or ineffective by the time this deal will be over, when Hunter is 36.
For info on Hunter's comps, you can click here.
6-4-2 also links to this piece at the L.A. Times, which is all agush over GMJ:
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Matthews emerged as a superb defensive center fielder in Texas from 2004 to 2006, but he has also spent considerable time during his eight-year career in right field (214 games) and left field (129 games). He has played 650 games in center.
So GMJ is one of the best centerfielders in the game, but is a shade below Torii Hunter? Where, one wonders, would the author think GMJ and Hunter compare to truly elite defensive centerfielders like Coco Crisp, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro, Felix Pie, Carlos Beltran, Willy Taveras...
Interested in the view of someone who isn't the fan of an A.L. West team? Check out Keith Law...
The bigger problem with Hunter and this deal, however, is his bat. Hunter has never topped a .340 OBP, so he'll fit right into the Angels' lineup, but not in a good way. The Angels are one of the least patient teams in baseball, finishing second-to-last in the AL in pitches seen per plate appearance. Reggie Willits, whose playing time is probably hurt the most by this deal, was the only Angel to draw 60 unintentional walks in 2007, and in fact led the American League in P/PA at 4.44, more than a full pitch above Hunter's 3.37 figure. If Reagins can't foist Matthews' albatross contract on another club, Willits would seem to be headed out of town himself. Hunter does give the Angels another power bat, which they needed in 2007, but at a cost of adding another no-like-breaking-ball hacker to their lineup. At the same time they possibly deleted one of their few hitters who could get on base and make the opposing pitcher work.
Hunter's an above-average bat for center right now because he has good power (probably a 25-homer bat in Anaheim, with 30-40 doubles) and hits .270-.280 in most years. He's already leaving the typical hitter's peak years, however, and his abilities in both departments will decline over the life of the contract. By the contract's third or fourth year, he'll be a .260/.310/.440 hitter, which is a fourth outfielder's line on a contending club, and won't be worth $18 million a year even if player salaries continue increasing.
The Angels also gave up their first-round pick (27th overall) to sign Hunter, which will leave them without a first-rounder for the third time in four drafts. The Angels signed just one player in the top 140 picks in the 2007 draft, and their farm system, long ranked as one of the best in baseball, is slipping due both to promotions and some disappointments. Unless they are willing to take some high-ticket players who fall due to their bonus demands, the loss of these high picks will continue to hurt them.
Oh, and one more thought from Law: