Hunter better than Matthews
November, 23, 2007
Give the Angels credit for recognizing a sunk cost and upgrading a position to which they already had devoted a big chunk of payroll. The question is whether the upgrade is as big as they think. If Torii Hunter is taking at-bats away from Gary Matthews Jr. and replacing him in center field, then the Angels just added two or three wins for 2008, since Hunter is better than Matthews on offense and defense. Matthews had a ridiculous walk year in 2006 but reverted to fourth-outfielder status in 2007 with a year that, oddly enough, nearly matched his 2005 stats. Give Tony Reagins credit for tacitly acknowledging Matthews' contract was a mistake and improving his team at a position the Angels weren't expected to try to improve. That aside, Hunter is no bargain at $18 million per season, and he's likely to end up a fourth outfielder himself before the contract is up. Hunter has a great defensive reputation because he makes highlight catches and has a clear skill for robbing opposing hitters of home runs. However, those catches are rare, and his overall defense in center is slightly above average. It's only going to get worse as he gets older, and he'll be 35 by Year 4 of this contract, at which time he might have to move to an outfield corner.