The Twins officially announced today that they signed outfielder Torii Hunter to a one year, $10.5 million contract. Hunter, heir apparent to beloved Kirby Puckett, was the cornerstone of the fun, successful Twins teams of 2001-2007.
Here are five reasons that the signing was a good thing, naysayers and critics be damned (and ignored).
Baseball is a kid’s game. It’s supposed to be fun to play, as Torii has shown so often, but it’s also supposed to be fun to watch and be a part of. Torii Hunter back with the Twins is undoubtedly a fun thing. For him to end his career where it began, as a student of Kirby Puckett in the position that he also played before retiring, is mythology come to life. It’s powerful. And fun.
It’ll help the kids
The 2015 Twins will be filled with young talent: Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas, hopefully Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, and more. Joe Mauer plays the strong, silent leader well, but having Torii in the clubhouse to give them another leadership perspective will be undoubtedly helpful. Even players with a few years under their belt that could still use some seasoning, like Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe, will also benefit from his knowledge.
Bad but not that bad
Much has been said about Torii’s declining fielding skills. Sure, he isn’t what he once was, and last year was by far his worst year as a defensive player, but think about who the Twins had in the outfield last year. I like Chris Parmelee, Jordan Schafer, and Josh Willingham but Torri brings more to the table than they did.
Sock a dinger!
Hitting was not a problem for the Twins last year. They were one of the top 10 offensive teams in baseball. Adding Torii Hunters still somewhat dangerous bat to the lineup can only help. Sure, the season will still rest on how well the pitching performs, but the more runs you can get the more you can compensate for that.
Letting go is the hardest part
Say Torii is having a good year but the Twins are not (pretty safe bet). If this happens the team could trade him for a younger player or prospects. Sure, this would slay the romanticism of him ending his career here, but wouldn’t the organization, the fans, and especially Torii rather see him in a pennant chase than wasting away on a non-contender?
Although they are in need of outfield help, obviously the Twins have bigger holes to fill. The biggest is pitching. But $10.5 million for one year will not get you a great pitcher, and is not enough to turn the Twins into contenders anyway. So spending the money on Hunter is justified.
If nothing else, at least Twins fans can have some fun this year. Welcome back, Torii.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.