Wednesday Night, August 26, 2009
The Santana Situation
Yes, I realize this is a couple of days late, and the news wasn’t as bad as many feared it would be, but I did want to touch on the topic a little bit. On Monday, it was learned that Johan Santana was likely to miss the remainder of the season with an elbow injury. Initially, many were concerned that Santana could be in need of Tommy John surgery which would likely cost him his 2010 season as well. Fortunately, it was learned that he would just need arthroscopic elbow surgery to remove bone chips. Twins fans will recall, the last time Santana had surgery to remove bone chips, he came back to the Twins and won his first Cy Young award.
I have heard and read that there are people who think that the Twins traded “damaged” goods in spring of 2008. Some would say that although Santana had a very strong 2008 season with the Mets, he was not throwing as hard and had basically stopped throwing his slider. He had become a two-pitch pitcher. With Santana, obviously those were two very good pitches, but had he ditched the slider because of the strain on his elbow? Did the Twins know of his injury risk when the y traded him? Did the Red Sox and Yankees really stay out of serious discussion for Santana because of injury concerns?
My opinion is that the topic is moot and really kind of ridiculous, on several levels.
· First, you have to assume that the Mets were privy to the same documents and medical reports that the Red Sox and Yankees doctors would have seen.
· Second, Santana had to pass a physical for the trade to go through.
· Third, Santana was an excellent pitcher in 2007. He arguably could have won the Cy Young Award. Then in 2008, he could have won the NL Cy Young Award.
· Fourth, he proved healthy enough to get through the first year and a half with the Mets. That isn’t long when compared against a six year contract, but it is when it comes to blaming the team that dealt him.
· Did injury risk play some role in the Twins decision to trade Santana or to not offer more than four or five years? Of course it did and it should. There is an inherent risk with any pitcher as he gets into his 30s. It is for this reason that I would have applauded the Twins if they had acquired Roy Halladay for the remainder of 2009 and then the 2010 season. I would have questioned them if they had offered him a contract beyond the 2010 season. It just makes no sense.
o Before the 1996 season, Kevin Brown signed a 7 year, $105 million contract that proved to be an bad acquisition… due to injuries.
o Mike Hampton signed an eight year, $121 million contract with the Rockies. The deal proved a mistake immediately… due to injuries.
o Barry Zito signed a seven year, $126 million deal with the San Francisco Giants that will pay him through the 2013 season. He has not been hurt, but the contract made no sense as Zito had regressed four straight seasons before becoming a free agent.
o This past offseason, the Yankees gave the largest contract given to a pitcher when they signed CC Sabathia for seven years and $161 million that will keep him in pinstripes through 2015.
o Santana was traded to the Mets and given a six year, $137.5 million contract. It is year two of the trade and already he is missing time.
o Clearly there is no good reason to sign a pitcher to a 9-digit contract.
o Hitters have less risk of devastating injury, in most cases, but there are 14 hitters that have signed $100+ million contracts.
§ Alex Rodriguez has signed two of them. He signed a $252 million, ten year deal with the Rangers, opted out of that after seven years, and then signed a $275 million, ten year deal with the Yankees before the 2008 season. Injuries, and other issues, have already made that contract very questionable.
§ Derek Jeter signed a ten year, $189 million deal that runs out after the 2010 season. He may not be worth $18.9 million a year, but it’s hard to call that a bad contract.
§ Mark Teixeira signed an eight year, $180 million deal before this season. It looks good so far, and as a 1B, the risk of injury should be low.
§ Manny Ramirez signed an eight year, $160 million deal with the Red Sox that ran out following the 2008 season. Definitely hard to argue that he didn’t earn that despite Manny being Manny.
§ Miguel Cabrera signed an eight year, $152.3 million deal before the 2008 season, shortly after being acquired by the Tigers. He was immediately moved to 1B.
§ Todd Helton signed an 11 year, $151.5 million deal with the Rockies before the 2001 season that runs out after the 2011 season. I don’t think Helton has been an elite player for a few years, but he is still good.
§ Alfonso Soriano signed an eight year, $136 million deal with the Cubs that runs through 2014. So, imagine how they feel that he has been losing playing time during the second half of this season.
§ Vernon Wells got $126 million over seven years with the Blue Jays before the 2008 season. That is a really bad contract.
§ Jason Giambi signed with the Yankees before the 2002 season for seven years and $120 million. Great on-base guy, but may not have been a great fit in the Bronx.
§ Carlos Beltran shunned the Astros and signed a seven year, $119 million deal with the Mets. When healthy, he has continued to be an excellent, all-around player, but he has been hurt quite a bit.
§ Ken Griffey Jr., signed a nine year, $116.5 million deal with the Reds before the 2000 season. Those last several years meant severe overpaying.
§ Albert Pujols’s contract is up after the 2010 season. When he and the Cardinals come to an agreement, he will move up this list.
§ Carlos Lee signed a six year, $100 million deal with Houston… what were the Astros thinking?
I always was a big fan of Johan Santana. I wish he could have stayed, but the Twins probably did the right thing in getting four players for him. Time may prove that taking two draft picks may have been smarter, but Carlos Gomez and Kevin Mulvey are very close. Deolis Guerra has taken a step forward. The Twins made a fair offer to Santana. I hope he is just fine and pitches great because he is fun to watch.
TWINS FALL 5-1 to O’s
Nick Blackburn started for the Twins and gave up four runs (# earned) on nine hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. Jeff Manship got the team out of the 6th inning and threw a scoreless 7th as well. He got another out in the 8th, but he left with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Matt Guerrier came in and walked the next two batters before getting out of the inning. Philip Humber threw a nice, clean ninth inning. The key to this game was the pitching of Jeremy Guthrie though. The O’s starter held the Twins to one run over seven innings. The Twins managed just six hits in the game. Joe Mauer had two of them (to leave his batting average at .373). He scored the team’s lone run on an RBI double by Justin Morneau.
The story of the game, in my opinion, was the defense of Alexi Casilla. He made three very impressive plays, two at 2B and one while playing SS in the ninth. The play early in the game when he dove to his right and in one motion flipped the ball backhanded to Orlando Cabrera for the out, was one of the most amazing defensively plays I have ever seen. I have now seen the play on replay at least 30 times, and I am still asking myself “How did he do that?”
And, although Todd Tichenor didn’t appear to have a real good, consistent strike zone, I have no problem at all with him tossing out Orlando Cabrera in the 8th inning. After the 1B ump ruled that he swung on a check swing for a third strike, Cabrera said something and slammed his bat against the Metrodome’s turf. That is, and should be, an automatic ejection. Ron Gardenhire does a good job of backing his players in such arguments, sometimes he goes too far. He really didn’t even argue the decision. It put the Twins in a strange situation for the top of the 9th. But Alexi Casilla moved to SS, with Michael Cuddyer coming in to 2B. The two combined for a very nice 6-4-3 double play to end that inning.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Wednesday - SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Derek McCallum, Elizabethton Twins
Wednesday - SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – R.A. Dickey, Rochester Red Wings
· Here is a nice, small-town newspaper article about Miracle reliever Joe Testa.
Wednesday – Rochester 4, Lehigh Valley 0 – After a few really bad starts since his return to AAA, R.A. Dickey put together a tremendous start in this game. Dickey went the distance for a complete game shutout. He gave up just two hits. He walked one and struck out eight. He got help from a lot of guys on offense as well. Matt Tolbert was 2-4 with his 10th double. Trevor Plouffe went 2-4 with his 22nd double. Dustin Martin was 2-3 with a walk and his 15th double. Jason Pridie, Danny Valencia and Brock Peterson each went 2-4.
Wednesday – New Britain 0, Connecticut 3 – Matt Fox also threw a complete game. Unfortunately it was in a losing effort. Fox gave up three runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out three in eight innings. The Rockcats managed just four hits in the game against top pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner, who improved to 9-1. Wilson Ramos had two of them.
Wednesday – Game 1 – Ft. Myers 3, St. Lucie 1 – After being postponed by rain on Tuesday, Tyler Robertson gave the Miracle exactly what they needed. The lefty gave up only an unearned run on two hits over the first six innings. He walked two and struck out five. Blair Erickson recorded his 15th save with a scoreless (despite a hit and two walks) inning. Joe Benson went 2-3 with his eighth double. Ben Revere went 2-3. Jair Fernandez hit his fourth home run.
Wednesday – Game 2 – Ft. Myers 4, St. Lucie 5 – Ben Revere went 2-4 with his 12th double. Benson hit a two run triple. Nick Romero was 2-4. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as Steve Hirschfeld had an unusual rough start. He went just three innings and gave up four runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out four. Michael Tarsi pitched a scoreless inning. Joe Testa gave up an unearned run on one hit and one walk over three innings. He struck out five.
Wednesday – Beloit 0, Kane County 7 – Not a good day for the Snappers. In the first inning, Aaron Hicks struck out and disagreed with the ump. He was ejected. Dan Osterbrock gave up six runs (5 earned) on 11 hits and two walks in just 4.1 innings. He struck out six. Thomas Wright gave up an unearned run on three hits over 2.2 innings. Then Infielder Nathan Hanson came in to pitch the eighth inning. He gave up two hits but no runs in his inning! The Snappers managed just three hits in the game.
Wednesday – Elizabethton 5, Johnson City 7 – Derek McCallum went 3-4 with his fourth home run. Josmil Pinto hit his 12th double and 11th home run. Brian Dozier was 2-4 with a walk. Tobias Streich was 2-4. Martire Garcia went 5.1 innings. He gave up seven runs (5 earned) on eight hits, two walks and two hit batters. Kelvin Mota walked three before getting the final two outs of the 6th inning. Dakota Watts struck out three in two scoreless innings.