Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Twins Trade Johan
Hey ya’ll… I should have known it. Known what? Well, while standing around Mike Radcliff, Jim Rantz and Bill Smith on Saturday, I heard little things like “I thought maybe you would let the cat out of the bag to that guy” or see the like when I hear “we will do what is best for the Minnesota Twins.” I thought something was up. I couldn’t help but wonder if the Twins and someone had already made a deal. Maybe they were already in their 72 hour period where Santana and the other team were negotiating an extension. Maybe they were just waiting until after the positive weekend that was Twins Fest was over before dashing the hopes of the Twins fans that held on to a glimmer of hope that the Twins might find a way to lock up Johan for five more years.
And Tuesday afternoon, it happened. Santana was traded. Or at least, the Mets and Twins came to an agreement on players for a Johan Santana trade. After and offseason of rumor after rumor, the deal was finally reached… and I was giving a presentation for work. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I found out. How disappointing is that!??!?!
So, your next question must be: Seth, how disappointed are you in the Twins trading Johan Santana to the New York Mets for Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra? Well, let me break that question into several parts to answer the question:
1.) How disappointed are you that the Twins traded Johan Santana? A little bit. After the signings of Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, I was one of those Twins fans that just wanted the Twins to go back to Santana and offer one more year, and maybe even an option for a sixth year. That said, I am also realistic enough to know that that was not going to happen. I had actually resigned myself to the reality that the Twins could have one more year of Johan Santana’s excellence. Or they could have, in this case, at least six years of Carlos Gomez, six years of Philip Humber, six or seven years of Kevin Mulvey and potentially the next eight or nine years of Deolis Guerra. That is simple math, folks. One year of Santana, or upwards of 24-25 roster years of four prospects. The reality is that for the betterment of the Twins organization the best, smartest thing to do was to trade Santana.
2.) …to the New York Mets? The bonus here is that the Twins will only need to face him under three scenarios; a couple of tune-up spring training innings, interleague play, and the World Series. For Santana, I think he will enjoy playing the whole game of baseball, something that American League teams and its fans unfortunately don’t get to see on a daily basis. Santana can hit, run and do it all.
3.) …for Carlos Gomez? Now, I’m a little hesitant to crown Gomez the next Carlos Gomez. That isn’t fair to him or for Twins fans to expect. What he has right now is speed, a lot of speed. When someone is faster than the Mets Jose Reyes, you know he is fast. He will steal a lot of bases. He will cover a lot of ground in centerfield. Some scouts claim that he will potentially hit for power. Well, not much in his minor league resume gives us that hope (but then again, there wasn’t anything in Ellsbury’s either). To me, with his speed, he needs to really focus on his on-base skills. Like the old saying says, “You can’t steal first.” That will come with time. Gomez was forced to the big leagues in 2007 because of injury. I don’t think a half-season of AAA would hurt him. Unfortunately, I don’t know if he will get that. I think that the Twins will want him in centerfield.
4.) …for Phil Humber? He was the #3 pitcher taken in the 2004 draft. He’s got a lot of skill, and after Tommy John surgery, he had a solid, but unspectacular, season at AAA New Orleans in 2007. I think he could just get stronger and potentially be a #2 pitcher at best. He should be a solid #3 though, already in 2008.
5.) …for Kevin Mulvey? He is compared frequently to Kevin Slowey, but the numbers are not at all the same. Mulvey is liked and yet until he got to the minor leagues, he was just a decent college pitcher (according to the numbers). With different stuff than Humber, he could also be a #2 at best, but could is more likely a solid #3 or #4.
6.) …for Deolis Guerra? If Fernando Martinez wasn’t available (and he obviously wasn’t), the Twins had to get Guerra. He is another very young guy who at age 18 last year was pitching adequately in the Florida State League. I don’t know why the Mets rushed him, and I hope that the Twins send him to Ft. Myers to at least start the season, but when it comes to potential, Guerra could be a very good #2, maybe better. But he is (and should be) two years away, AT LEAST.
If you read the Comments below, “Bill from Sarasota” pointed out something I wrote last month when I wrote about my Get to Know ‘Em on the Mets Prospects:
If the Mets would offer Carlos Gomez, Mike Pelfrey OR Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and one other prospect, I think that the Twins would have to consider it. If that prospect was Deolis Guerra, they would be silly to say no.
Well, I don’t know what to make of that, but it is kind of cool, and I’m glad Bill mentioned it, or I wouldn’t have remembered it.
Based on comments I have read other places or have heard, I do have a couple of other thoughts that I want to post:
· Yes, I preferred either of the Red Sox deals or the Yankees deal. I just don’t know if either was really ever on the table as an official offer. I definitely subscribe to the theory that the Red Sox were just throwing out names and quotes and such all along to keep the Yankees, who needed Santana more, from getting him for cheap. The Twins LOVED that those two teams were throwing names out there so that the Mets, who actually needed Santana, would at least think that they had some competition. So, when I hear “Why wouldn’t they choose the Yankees package?” or “Wouldn’t you prefer Ellsbury?” I can’t help but say “Yes, but I don’t think that the Twins really were ever actually offered those guys. And, the truth is that we will never know. GMs and teams have to be a bit guarded on that because they don’t want other teams thinking that they would play that game, but they have to.
· Yes, I would have preferred Fernando Martinez too (to Carlos Gomez or to any one of the pitchers). But clearly that wasn’t an option. Martinez is just 19 and although maybe he could be ready by 2010, or even late 2009, I also know that the Twins did want some immediate help. Gomez is closer than Martinez. Humber is likely ready. Mulvey is very close. It was also unlikely that the Twins could get both Guerra and Martinez, the Mets two prospects with the biggest upside.
· Honestly, there is a part of me that is simply glad it is done, or at least to this point. After this many months of speculation and nearly every prospect mentioned, it will be very nice to just have it done, to know who the Twins are receiving and to move forward. Now we can start projecting lineups and rotations and such. Now we can sit down and project our 2008 Minnesota Twins roster.
· Disappointed or not, the Twins option was to lose him at the end of the 2008 season and get two draft picks in 2009. Four prospects, three who are close to the big leagues and one with major upside is likely a better return than the Twins would have been able to get from two draft picks.
· I have also heard people ‘complain’ that the Twins have so many #3 and #4 starters in the big leagues and in their system. I have to ask you this… how much money is the average free agent #3 or #4 pitcher getting these days? I believe a number between $8 and $12 million? Also, enough of the Twins pitching prospects, in my mind, have the ability to be #2s. Of course, Francisco Liriano could be an Ace. So, I don’t think that there is such a thing as too many pitching prospects or even too many #3 starters.
· Projected Twins Best Lineup (now that we can discuss it): Carlos Gomez/Jason Pridie CF, Joe Mauer C, Delmon Young LF/RF, Justin Morneau 1B, Michael Cuddyer RF/LF, Jason Kubel DH, Brendan Harris 2B, Mike Lamb 3B, Adam Everett SS… that is a very solid lineup, I would say. Good hitters 2-8. Good potential at #1. Gomez bats right handed, Pridie bats left-handed, so I’m not suggesting a straight platoon because Gomez needs to play against righties too and eventually become the everyday guy. But use both and don’t put too much pressure on both. Let them both be successful.
· Based on that… this trade may not be the best thing that happened to Craig Monroe’s chances of making $3.8 million this year, rather than $800,000 if he doesn’t get out of spring training.
Alright, enough of my thoughts. To summarize, I am neither thrilled nor disappointed with the news of the specifics of the trade today. It was bound to happen and the Twins likely took the best offer available to them. Now it is your turn, what are your thoughts? Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.