|Waiting for Miguel Cabrera, Angels leap for Torii Hunter|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2007 18:16|
``Obviously, we've been negotiating the Cabrera deal, and we have not been able to consummate that deal. So Tony came to me and just said, `Torii's sitting out there and he wants to play here,''' Moreno related Wednesday when Hunter was introduced by the Angels along with pitcher Jon Garland.
Cabrera has been dangled by the Florida Marlins since the GM meetings at the start of November. The Angels, looking to upgrade their offense, are considered one of the prime candidates to land the slugger.
``Obviously, we've been looking at a third baseman. We're talking about a lot of players. We're not just talking about him,'' Moreno said. ``What's happened to us a couple of times in the last few years is that we really zeroed in on a couple of players and didn't get it done. So we made a decision that we're not going to sit back and just focus on one player - and if that one player doesn't work out, then we're left sitting there holding the bag.''
The Angels also are among several teams that covet Twins ace Johan Santana.
``I know those rumors are out there. All I can say is those two players are under contract with other clubs, so I can't speak to it,'' Reagins said. ``If an opportunity presents itself, we'll take a look at it. We're going to continue to pound the pavement. We're going to the winter meetings next week and see what that brings.''
A seven-time Gold Glove center fielder, Hunter reached a preliminary agreement Nov. 21 on a $90 million, five-year contract, a day after negotiations began. The sides have yet to finalize the deal.
``We're just working out the final details of Torii's contract and that should be done relatively quickly,'' Reagins said. ``He hasn't officially written his name, but we've agreed to all the terms.''
Hunter, who hit .297 with 28 homers and 107 RBIs for Minnesota this year, was obtained two days after the Angels dealt Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox for Garland. But Moreno denied the team acquired Hunter as insurance in case incumbent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. gets caught up in baseball's investigation into performance-enhancing drugs.
``That never really entered our minds, to be honest,'' Moreno said. ``I think it's a Pandora's box. I don't know what's going to happen here. Obviously we've spent time with Gary, and we're pretty sure Gary's been clean for three years. We've had communication with the commissioner's office, but to be able to get an athlete and a person like Torii Hunter was something we wanted to make an investment in.''
Hunter acknowledged he always admired the Angels from afar - especially since they beat his Twins in the 2002 AL championship series en route to the club's only World Series title. He hammed it up Wednesday with a rally monkey given to him by an Angels staffer, keeping the stuffed animal on his shoulder as he answered questions.
``I told myself years ago that if I ever become a free agent, I'm going over here with the Angels,'' Hunter said. ``But at the time of my free agency, they had a center fielder already, so I kind of threw them on the back burner and looked at other teams - and then they came out of nowhere.
- and (broadcaster) Rex Hudler.''
Hunter and Garland posed for photographs in Angels jerseys and caps.
``It's awesome. We've got two quality guys who are proven winners and winning is important to them,'' said Angels pitcher John Lackey, who attended the news conference with teammate Garret Anderson.
Garland, an 18-game winner in 2005 and 2006, was 10-13 with a 4.23 ERA in 32 starts this year. He joins a rotation that includes Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Jered Weaver.
``You can't have too much pitching,'' Lackey said. ``Something always happens with a pitching staff, so to have extra guys is always nice. He's going to be right in the middle of our rotation - maybe at the front. We've got several guys who could lead this rotation, and he definitely has the credentials to do it.
``The biggest thing I've seen with him is that he trusts his stuff,'' Lackey added. ``His pitch counts usually stay down because he throws a lot of strikes, he trusts that sinker and he's not afraid of contact. He's going to let the defense work behind him.''
Matthews, if he's not traded, would be moved to left field or right, depending on whether Anderson or Vladimir Guerrero is the designated hitter on a particular night.
``That was one thing I thought about before I came here,'' said Hunter, who had an old phone number for Matthews and couldn't reach him. ``We've been friends for a long time, so it'll be a lot of fun playing with him.
``We saw each other at the doctor's office Monday, and we were cracking up laughing,'' Hunter added. ``I told him, `You know what? We're going to win a ring together.' He said whatever it takes to win, he's ready. I mean, he wasn't jumping up and down like he was happy about it, because he's a center fielder. And I understand that. But if I win, he's going to win.''