Hunter & Blame The Yankees.

The Yankees are the reason that the Marlins just dumped all their pricey cargo overboard into the Atlantic yet again. Yes, I know it went to Toronto.

We’ll come back to that though.

 It was going to be very difficult for the Tigers to improperly fill their vacancy for a productive veteran outfielder. The free agent market was flooded with different degrees of those types of players. Victorino. Ichiro. Hunter. Bourn. Ludwick. Hunter. Gomes. Hamilton. Melky. Pagan.

Even though the Tigers gave Torii Hunter slightly more than I expected him to receive, he’s the probably the most fitting addition to the Tigers all of those outfielders that were available. It’s of no concern to me that Hunter struck out a career high 133 times in 2012. His bat MAY have slowed a bit. He probably saw a lot of fastballs in front of the middle of those Angels bashers behind him. Some of those fastballs may have been too much for Hunter in his late 30s. That’s just speculation. When Hunter did connect, boy did he do some damage. His line drive percentage (22%) was the highest of his career, which, with some luck as is always the case with this stat, Hunter’s BABIP was a blistering .389. Quick note for BABIP beginners. If you hit a lot of line drives, your BABIP and thusly batting average will look great.

What can we expect from Hunter in 2013 as he moves into his age 38 season?

You’re familiar enough with his past and present numbers, but think on it for a second, and try to be realistic.

The Godfather of advanced stats in MLB, Bill James projects to play 148 games with 19 home runs, 84 RBIs, 75 runs scored, 8 stolen bases, on a .271 average. I’ll surmise those projections were made before he signed with the Tigers where he’ll play in what’s statistically recognized as a better home park for hitters than where he’s coming from, and he’ll be seeing inferior pitching in the division as well. Oh, and two of the other parks in the AL West, Oakland and Seattle, offer atmospheres where offense goes to die.

I’m satisfied with what James projects. You should be too.

I can’t unearth a stat that says Hunter won’t be accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, but I don’t think the local Jewish community need be alarmed by Hunter’s arrival. If I went to synagogue, I’d gladly invite Torii with me.

The money IS a bit more than I figured Hunter would get, but there are NO bargains in free agency, especially for a player with Hunter’s fantastic credentials. Unless you’re purchasing bottom of the roster talent, please embrace the tenet that free agency is also a synonym for overpay.

Next up for the Tigers is an end of the rotation, veteran, innings eating arm, and I’d be feel more settled for them if they added a reliever whose successfully held the position of closer in the past. I still suggest digging in the Arms Off Injuries basket where Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria currently reside. A backup catcher is coming as well. Preferably a righty. Those who’ve suggested Miguel Olivo have my attention.

Back to the Yankees causing the Marlins sell off. I’m bringing them into it because I’m in agreement with everyone else on the planet. It sucks and find it totally unjustifable. 

Heath Bell, who was making wads of money from last winter’s signing, mouthed his way off the team, to Arizona. But the last place Marlins wanted to put everything else on sale too.

Just as the Red Sox needed the Dodgers to liquidate their costly, poor decisions, the Marlins needed that team as well.

The Blue Jays were standing by, as they’ve been for years in the unforgiving AL East.

Again, this is all the Yankees fault.

This isn’t George Steinbrenner from the 90s and 2000s in charge any longer. It’s his offspring running the show and they’re doing it in a more fiscally conservative way. The Yankees front office was serious in their efforts to get that payroll far below where it is now, and even under the luxury tax threshold. The Yankees free spending ways, at least until costs are under control, have been put on pause.

That means no mega I-can’t-believe-they’re-paying-that-to-that-guy signings. Who the Yankees are now, may be who they are come spring. With no high profile or glamorous additions.

Same as last year, just another year older and maybe more broken down.

The Red Sox look to be in transition as well. You going young, or you gonna spend that money that Dodgers took off your hands? There’s even been suggestions that costs came down so they could sell the team.

The Rays need to decide which ace starting pitcher they’re going to deal to get a bat. And then after that, they’ll still need another bat. (PlLEASE DO NOT ACQUIRE UPTON)

Can the Orioles repeat what their success of last year, powered with that unimaginable record in one run games? Ehhh, bullpens can be very year-to-year.

But the Yankees are the key here, and with their carefree (or careless?) spending seemingly on hold, the Blue Jays, who’ve been rightly labeled as never good enough or never bad enough in the AL East, decided to make the blockbuster deal and go for the division RIGHT NOW. They’ve been waiting for this moment forever.

Toronto, who was able to hang onto their stud catching prospect, Travis D’Arnaud, assumed a lot of risk here.

Johnson was healthy but average last year.

Reyes with a history of balky legs, on turf?

How long can Buerhle get away with that junk.

Currently on the roster, can Bautista overcome the wrist injury that ended his season?

Can Lawrie not be a shithead and live up to his immense talent?

Was that Encarnacion season a fluke?

Can Rasmus not be a shithead either?

Can Sergio Santos return to his 2011 numbers after missing most of 2012?

The Jays have a lot of talent paper. They play games on turf in Toronto though.

My old boss is an Orioles fan, and he says this is now a division where every team wins 90. I don’t even know if that’s mathematically possible, but the AL East should be the most hard fought and competitive division in baseball. Let’s watch what the hot stove is able to cook up, but even in March it may be hard to argue that the AL East is home to 5 of the 10 or so best teams in MLB.

Pulling up the rear of those five COULD be the Yankees. Enjoy that. 

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