Do not trade Hunter

Speculation is rampant that the Twins will continue to revamp the roster by designating Rondell White for assignment when Shannon Stewart comes back; by giving up on Ruben Sierra after it becomes clear that his biceps are broken; and by trading Shannon Stewart and possibly Torrii Hunter.

While I can understand losing White, Sierra and to a lesser extent Stewart, I scratch my head anytime someone suggests to trade Hunter. The reasons people give include the following:

1. Hunter's expensive. We could use the prorated $10.75 million in 2006 and the $12 million due to him in 2007 for some other pieces to the puzzle.

Basically, for the cost of Tony Batista over and above what they pay Hunter this year, they can have him next year. If they can afford him this year, they surely can afford him next year, when nearly $30 million in salary comes off the books.

Plus, Terry Ryan does not look at salary first. He looks at options first. Take Jacque Jones. He overpaid him for two years because he was the best option for right field for the Twins. So, though it's fashionable to play fantasy baseball with salaries, that's not how Ryan thinks.

2. Hunter has value. Hunter is the only member of the team who is not part of the core of future Twins (Morneau, Mauer, Kubel, Bartlett, Santana, Liriano, Nathan, Rincon) that can garner some real talent in return.

Why trade a league average player at a position when the best you can do internally is to a replacement-level player? If you trade Hunter for a league average third baseman, for example, you basically make center field your hole, with replacement level players Lew Ford and Jayson Tyner the candidates to fill the job. Of the two, I'd rather have a league average center fielder and a replacement level third baseman than a league average third baseman and a replacement level center fielder.

Plus, Hunter is not the only thing of value the Twins have to trade. The Twins have a growing glut of pitching. Assuming Santana and Liriano are off limits, that leaves Carlos Silva, Boof Bonsor, Scott Baker, JD Durbin, Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins to compete for three spots in the 2007 rotation. And with Pat Neshek, and several other relief candidates, the Twins can afford to trade a couple of pitchers.

And I haven't even mentioned Kyle Lohse or Shannon Stewart as guys who could be packaged to fill remaining holes.

3. Hunter is a distraction. He's mouthy. He's loud. He sometimes speaks before he thinks. He sometimes takes issue with other players who seem to be dogging it. We've grown tired of his antics. Send them away.

No one plays the game harder than Hunter. As the emerging core of this team grows up, it will need Torii Hunter and Luis Castillo to provide leadership and encouragement to the young guys. For this reason, Hunter is probably more valuable to the Tinws than he is to most other organzations who can afford him.

I'd be glad to respond to other arguments. But if all you got is 1-3, you'll have to try harder to convince me that we should trade Hunter.