Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 29, 2008
BASEBALL: It's Santana Day!

OK, a moment of respectful silence for the fans of the Minnesota Twins. Really, of all the miserable feelings in this game, few can top losing a superstar in mid-career over money, whether or not you get good prospects in return (Mets fans who are old enough to remember June 15, 1977 can tell you this).


OK, time's up...

snoopy_dance.jpgWE GOT JOHAN FREAKING SANTANA!!!!! The best pitcher in baseball! The deal is conditioned on a physical and a contract extension, but the former is a relative formality (Santana seems quite healthy for a pitcher, although the name "Mike Sirotka" should remind us that the team still has to actually conduct the physical to confirm that), and the Mets would not have done the deal if they thought the latter would be an insuperable obstacle. Frankly, if Santana wants a better deal than Barry Zito got, he deserves it and should get it. (I looked at Santana's numbers in more detail here, including by comparison to Erik Bedard, who is reportedly close to being dealt to Seattle).

The Yankees and Red Sox offers must really have petered out in the end, because the Mets' package here is nothing the team will really miss in the short run and none of the people you would have rated most highly in the long run: Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, and pitchers Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey, rated by minor league guru John Sickels as the #2, 3, 4 & 7 prospects in the Mets system. No Wright or Reyes, no Pelfrey, no Fernando Martinez (the #1 prospect). Obviously, no Milledge. Not even Dan Norman. Looks like highway robbery to me.

22-year-old Gomez (minor league numbers here) is young, got a taste of the big leages and is blindingly fast, perhaps the fastest man in the game, thus resolving the issue of whether the Twins were going to need to stick Mike Cuddyer in center to replace Torii Hunter. But while Gomez is too young to be sure if he will hit with authority in the future, right now he seems more like the next Endy Chavez, and certainly not the kind of player you ever regret dealing for the best pitcher in baseball.

25-year-old Humber (MLB numbers here) is a legit if unspectacular prospect a year removed from arm surgery. My guess is, if Twins fans expect him to be the next Kevin Tapani, they may have a pretty good idea of what is coming.

23-year-old Mulvey is a well-regarded prospect, also not a huge strikeout pitcher but in 164.2 innings at AA he has issued 43 walks and allowed just 5 homers. Sickels has a writeup of Mulvey here (he throws mostly in the low 90s).

19-year-old Guerra is rated well by Sickels but seems to have too little a minor league track record to evaluate statistically, other than to note that as an 18-year-old he pitched less well in A ball than Santana did in the AL. He cut his walks sharply in his second season of pro ball, always a positive sign for a teenage pitcher. He's obviously a few years away.

This has to vault the Mets back to being clear favorites in the NL East.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:18 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)

At least we get three 1st round picks this year. Thanks for the parting gifts Glavine!

Posted by: Greg Schreiber at January 29, 2008 5:54 PM

Ultimately, the Yanks and Sox must have decided that what really mattered was keeping Santana away from each other. I doubt if Big Stein was still in charge he'd have let Santana go to the Mets, when the Yankees clearly could have made a better offer than this one.

For a Twins fan, you've got to look on the bright side, I suppose, and compare this to the Frank Viola trade, which worked out well. But there's no established major league talent in the package (as Rick Aguilera was then), in addition to no real grade A prospect. So nice work by Omar.

Posted by: Jerry at January 29, 2008 6:17 PM

Unbelievable. It's truly a great deal, almost as much for what we didn't give up as for what what we got.

I know the dust hasn't settled, but where do you think this ranks among Mets trades? It's at least on par with and probably superior to the Carter and Hernandez trades, and about even with the Piazza acquisition, especially when you consider Santana's just hit his prime.

Posted by: paul zummo at January 29, 2008 6:20 PM

Thanks to Minaya for keeping him from the frickin Red Sox and Yankees!

Posted by: The Deacon at January 29, 2008 6:30 PM

and we keep Philip Hughes, the best young prospect in MLB!

Posted by: Ironman at January 29, 2008 6:32 PM

From Tigers fan... thanks for getting him out of our division and our league. We'll deal with the WS bridge when we come to it.

I'm floored at what you didn't have to give up... Patience is indeed a virtue.

Posted by: Joel B. at January 29, 2008 7:13 PM

I won't believe it until I see him at the press conference pull on the Mets uniform. They still need to agree on a contract.

Posted by: Al at January 29, 2008 7:17 PM

Given that the Mets will probably have to dish out $140 million or so, I don't think this deal can be compared to their best deals from the 80's, when money was really not a factor. But it certainly is comparable to the Piazza deal.

Posted by: Jerry at January 29, 2008 7:32 PM

As a Royals fan I too thank you for getting him out of the AL Central. Personally, I think both the Yanks and Sox's offers were better, which makes you think they may not have been accurate.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 29, 2008 10:03 PM

I bet the Yankees said no to dealing Melki; I agree with that one. I assume The Sox just wanted to up the Yankees' price. I will miss Gomez' defense though. Ok, I'm over missing it now.

Let's see, best pitcher in the game, a lefty at that, a new stadium to fill next year, a cable deal. Hmmm, I think he'll get the deal he wants.

And I remember 1977 well, may M. Donald Grant burn in hell forever.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 29, 2008 10:10 PM

This is sooooooooooooooooooooo great. I'm giddy.

Posted by: Mike at January 30, 2008 7:26 AM

I think the Sox were sort of rope-a-doping the Yankees. They just wanted to make sure if the Yankees got him it was at the expense of 2 of their young arms and a starter. The Sox have to pay Beckett in a year and even with their payroll two $20 million pitchers is a lot.

Posted by: jim at January 30, 2008 12:04 PM

Surprised there is not more on this. Hell, y'all have Santana.

My question is: What happened here? How and why did the Mets end up with Santana when what they gave up is clearly not as good as any of the packages the Red Sox and Yankees were (allegedly?) offering up. There is no way this package is as good as the ones that featured players with proven high-end MLB experience.

So did Santana come up with demands that forced the 2 high-rollers to think twice about a 29 year-old, 9 figure pitcher with a 6-7 year (no trade?) contract?

Were the offers more a product of the media?

Did the Yankees and Red Sox reduce and/or withdraw offers as time went along?

Did the Twins wait too long and saw their big asset suddenly start to lose perceived value so they took the best thing around?

Did the Twins just blow it?

I think there is info that is not on the grapevine as of yet. The Twins have been pretty sharp over the past 6-7 years so it is doubtful they just booted this one and I think it is likely as doubtful that both the Sox and the Yanks both saw the proverbial light, backed off their offers and let him walk to the NL. It will be interesting to hear the whole story as time goes along on this one. I assumed the Twins were going to holster Santana, hoped he pitched great in the first half and move him then. Gomez is the centerpiece of this deal? He wasn't even a Top 50 prospect going into last year. Something is afoot.

Posted by: jim at January 30, 2008 5:02 PM

jim, I'd agree that why the Mets' offer beat the Yanks' and Boston's is an untold story as of yet. It may be that the Twins wanted him out of the AL.

That said, I would not rely too heavily on the Twins' front office competence. First, their GM quit a few months ago. Second, many's the GM who took a crappy deal when ownership stripped away his leverage.

Posted by: The Crank at January 30, 2008 5:21 PM

I forgot that Smith is a new GM. That could have something to do with it for sure. Can't believe they would take less on the dollar though to move him out of the league. Doesn't make sense and with Hunter gone it would seem they would need something to sell to their fans. Not a lot of sexy in this package. If I were Twins fan I'd be baffled and pissed.

The Sox got Pedro for Carl Pavano (62-64) and Tony Armas, Jr. (52-65) when Pedro was 26. Trading superstars for prospects (and Pavano was a higher rated guy than Gomez) almost never pans out. I know you must have that, "I can't believe we just got that guy!" feeling. It's a nice feeling. Looks like his Shea Stadium debut would be sometime between the 10th-12th depending on weather and rotation. Scalpers are smiling.

Posted by: jim at January 30, 2008 5:48 PM

KNow what I really like? All the Yankee fans going on how Johan isn't that good anymore. He's passed his prime (does that make Clemens the Miss Jean Brodie of baseball?), how Hughes is better now. How it's better to home grow your players.

Of course, if Cashman was able to pull it off, Santana would be the greatest thing since, well, Carlos Santana I guess.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 30, 2008 6:39 PM

Agreed Daryl, and very amusing. A couple weeks back their off season plans hinged on the young, healthy Andy Pettite.

Posted by: abe at January 31, 2008 8:39 AM

I am a Yankees fan, and I'd never say that Santana is past his prime or that Hughes would not be expendable in a trade for Santana. I would have been fine with a trade for Santana that included Melky, either Hughes or Kennedy, and an assortment of minor leaguers. I wouldn't have been willing to give up Hughes and Kennedy and Melky though.

Does anyone know what the Yankees final offer was? Why was the Mets offer better?

Posted by: MVH at January 31, 2008 10:02 AM

What amazes me is that it appears the Orioles are about to get a much better return out of the Mariners for Erik Bedard than the Twins got for Santana. Guess that extra year before free agency and the lack of a NTC makes Bedard more valuable than the consensus best starter in the game.

Posted by: JoeSchwind at January 31, 2008 4:38 PM

I think both Seattle and Baltimore did fine. Seattle gets a number 1 guy to go with Hernandez as a potentially very good 1-2 punch (and Batista as a 3 is not the worst you could do, after that it's downhill though). Baltimore gets a highly rated prospect in Jones (although 43 Ks in 139 ML ABs is disconcerting although he is only 21) and a 30 year old left reliever who kills lefties (.167 for career) with a contract of under $500K, plus a couple/three other minor leaguers. Seattle will have to work on extending Bedard in the next 2 years.

The Orioles did way better than the Twins. The more this Twins/Mets trade gets older the more it looks like the Twins totally yacked this up.

Posted by: jim at January 31, 2008 5:34 PM

The other thing for you Mets fans, you gotta know Yankee fans ARE NOT happy about this whether they say it or not. They really wanted Santana, offered WAY more than the Mets and did not get him. Back page advantage: Mets.

Posted by: jim at January 31, 2008 5:37 PM

Agreed jim, if santana is healthy the yanks will rue the pass they took. Big game tomorrow, I love the tiki free giants. best of luck to you.

Posted by: abe at February 2, 2008 6:11 PM
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