Saturday, October 01, 2005


So Torii Hunter was in town for just a few days to visit teammates this week. Still, he made time to carry out his duties as Team Leader--such as getting into a fight with Justin Morneau.

Morneau had the class to downplay the incident and pay his respects to Torii in the press, but here's the part of the story that slays me:

Hunter, during an interview about the frustration in the clubhouse, said he's kept up with the developments from Texas and has been startled at what he's read. Some of the events during the second half include righthander Carlos Silva saying that some players were acting like they didn't want to win, Kyle Lohse damaging doors in the clubhouse after being taken out of a game and J.C. Romero getting into arguments with Gardenhire and bench coach Steve Liddle earlier this week. In each case, things eventually calmed down.

"I gotta say if I was here, I probably wouldn't have allowed that," he said of some of the things he's read about. "It's not my ballclub, but I can't handle that. We're trying to win, and you cannot win when you've got people talking about each other in the paper and the media, even in the clubhouse going against each other. You've got the pitchers on one side going against each other, you can't do that. Everybody's got to be tightly knit, and I think that if I was here it wouldn't happen. We'd have to fight, it's as simple as that."

Um, Torii. You remember that road trip in early June, when there was a fuss in the papers about young players who needed to learn how to play hurt...?

Even now, while he says a team can't have players criticizing each other in the media, isn't he doing exactly that?

Funny how his leadership solution to rifts in the clubhouse seems to be, "We'd have to fight, it's as simple as that," too.

Torii has his talents, but acting as a leader to unite the players on the team isn't one of them. That in itself doesn't necessarily mean that he must go this winter. Baseball teams can win despite divisive influences in the clubhouse. But this incident should finally put the lie to the notion that he's indispensible because he's the Team Leader. Should he stay or should he go--Terry Ryan ought to base his decision mainly on whether Torii's plate production and play in the field is likely to be worth $10.75m (plus the $2m buyout in 2007) to this club, and what kind of value he might bring in trade and how else that money could be spent as an alternative. If Torii's clubhouse influence tips the scales at all, the way I see it, the clashes with Morneau this season should tilt against him.


At 10/01/2005 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Frightwig.

I lost a lot of respect for Hunter this year when he called out some of his teammates in the media. I guess I have the theory that if you have a problem with someone, you should say it to their face.

I was also annoyed when he started complaining in July about how the team needed a big bat. You think Terry Ryan doesn't know that, Torii? Why don't you step up and provide a little more offense instead of waiting for Terry Ryan to save the day?

At 10/01/2005 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SethSpeaks said...

Great work! I completely agree.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Hunter was not really the leader in past years. That was clearly the role of Corey Koskie! They miss him badly, from a leadership role. You have to think things might have been different.

It all goes back to how Gardy will bash anyone he wants in the media, but Torii is one of three or four that will never be talked poorly against!

At 10/02/2005 9:52 AM, Anonymous Pepper said...

Torii sounds a little out of control to me. He makes fun of Justin's batting stance and Justin is supposed to just suck it up? Of course we don't know exactly how it went, but what Torii said to the press disgusted me. And yes, I too was surprised and quite impressed by how Justin summed up the incident. It shows a surprising disparity in maturity between the two. It will be interesting to see what next year's team looks like, but I'm more open to changes now than I was before.

At 10/02/2005 11:55 AM, Blogger SBG said...

You beat me to the punch, FW. I intended to write this column on Monday.

The "Torii is a leader" story has been proven to be a lie. He's frankly not good enough to get into Morneau's and Mauer's grills.

I've suspected for a while that the younger guys (that is, the future) would not cry too hard if Torii was shipped away. I'm now inclined to believe that they'd probably throw a going away party -- and not invite him.

At 10/02/2005 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactally what I was thinking when I read it!! That just ticks me off though. If he is such a leader don't you think he should be acting like one? What I read in the paper made Justin sound more like a leader then Torii! I mean I like Torii, but he needs to stop and think about what he is going to do before he does it and start acting like the leader everyone says he is!

At 10/02/2005 9:25 PM, Blogger The Gold Hunter said...

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At 10/03/2005 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goldhunter you're doing a HECKUVA job.

At 10/07/2005 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree.

Although Hunter has not put up the numbers we'd all like to see, he does set a standard when it comes to playing hard and playing to win. I believe he does bring an intensity to the game, an intensity that was surely missing on the field and in the clubhouse once his injury occured. The two times he shredded Morneau this year, Morneau rose to the challenge and responded positively with his bat. That includes his Friday (9/30) night grand slam.

Although our rookies are young, they are still grown men and if grown men can't take some smack talking from a seasoned veteran, then they don't belong in MLB.

No matter what, it's sure going to be an interesting winter!

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