Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Santana Roundtable

By now most of you, our loyal readers, know about the monster trade of Johan Santana to the Mets (contingent on a contract extension) that went down yesterday. An emergency TKOT Roundtable was summoned (much like when the Batman symbol is shown in the sky to let the Dark Knight know that his services are needed). So as soon as it was realistically possible, the three of us and a shocked, virtually speechless Nic Marx convened at a local coffee house to warm up from the sub-zero temperatures and hash out this mega deal. We’re sure you’ve been reading about it all day, but what follows are the only opinions that matter…

Q—Alright boys, with the news of Johan Santana's apparent trade to the Mets announced late yesterday afternoon, I figured it would be a good idea to give everyone the night to vent, analyze, and sleep on the deal. Now that we are all refreshed, I think we can better sort out our thoughts and analyze this trade from all angles. For me, like 99.9% of Twins fans, my initial thought was FUCK! When you see that the best player on your team is dealt and you don’t get a proven, Major League ready player, nor do you get the other team’s best prospect, the reaction isn’t going to be good. Luckily, rather than listen to the devil/homer on my shoulder, the angel/logical mind popped up on the other like a bad television sitcom to help me rationalize the deal.

I thought about the contract demands (including the rumor that Santana turned down a 5 year/$100 million offer), how little leverage we had, and how much more upset I’d be if we lost Johan to free agency and got nothing for him. I wouldn’t say that made me like the deal, but I’m trying to accept it. What was your first reaction when you heard about the deal yesterday?

FUZZ—Well another super duper star is out. If you’re interested in sports franchises trading, this state is perfect for you. Our sports market runs like a fantasy team. We make a move about every six months. This one hits the hardest to me because Santana was the best at his position. Peter Gammons, the hall of fame baseball journalist called Santana the best pitcher in the 21st century. He’s awesome and we all knew it. Now he’s a goner because of the stupid way baseball is set up. We couldn’t pay the guy.

My first reaction to the trade was pure crazy. I had so many feelings that it's hard to put it in one sentence. I thought they blew it completely but more information has leaked. Like I found out this morning that Santana put a Tuesday deadline on the trade to the Twins, which just pisses me off. The Twins are at fault also, since those winter meeting trades were a hell of lot better than this one, but giving them an ultimatum? Fuck you Johan. He told them if this doesn’t happen now, I have a no trade clause that I will stick to the whole season and become a free agent. The players have all the power these days…

NIC—I can't figure out what direction the Twins are taking. They lose two high quality players (I use that term loosely for T. Hunter), but they lock up Morneau and Cuddyer to big long term deals. The players they received for Santana are clearly players of the future, so are we trying to win now, doing just enough to appease fans, or building our team for the new stadium in a couple of year? Personally, I think they are caught trying to do all 3, which probably isn't going to work unless every young player has a career year.

DOGG—My first reaction was positive because at this point I just wanted to deal him for something. The last thing this organization needed was to hold onto him this year, have another .500 type season and lose him to free agency. I don’t follow the minor leagues or prospects for that matter because there are so many of them to begin with and you don’t really know who’s going to pan out and who’s not. This is a situation that we have to let play itself out for 3+ years because the top prospects we got in the deal are young and it’ll take time for them to completely develop or completely flop. Honestly, I think Bill Smith did a great job with this whole situation. I know the Phil Hughes and Cabrera trade from the Yankees was the best offer and he declined but his thinking was perfect in my mind.

He thought the Red Sox and Yankees would fight each other for Johan and in the long run include more guys than anticipated to get the best pitcher in baseball. Why not think that? Both teams have done that with every other major prospect out there so there was no reason to not believe they would act the same for Santana.

Bottom line, he got prospects for Johan so it’ll take time to see how they pan out. In my mind though, we didn’t lose anything except 16 more wins this year which only puts us closer to the postseason but still short. We weren’t going to have him after this year no matter the situation so this was the safe play. Bill Smith should be acknowledged for this move.

Q—I’m with Dogg here. The fact that the guys we got are so young demands that we wait at least a few years before we can accurately analyze the deal we got. But we can talk about the (alleged) deals we didn’t get. We’ve all heard that Hughes-Cabrera-Marquez (NYY), Ellsbury-Lowrie-Masterson (BOS), and Lester-Crisp-Lowrie-Masterson (BOS) were on the table at the winter meetings, but we balked. Now we get no major league ready players and didn't even get the Mets top prospect. People are going to blame Billy Boy for this perceived mistake; did his waiting cost us some major talent?

FUZZ—He kind of blew it. I can’t say 100% that he blew this deal given the circumstances. Looking back, you can say he did because of what we got and what was offered before. However, I wasn’t sold on the deals that were on the table back then either. We’re talking about the best pitcher in the game bar none. Yet, not one guy offered was on Johan’s level. Not one experienced player was offered. It was a bunch of up and comers. I don’t know if I would have pulled the deal either.

Q—That’s what I was thinking too. If we would have taken one of the deals during the winter meetings, everyone would have complained that we didn’t get enough for him and that we traded him too quickly. The more we find out about this, the more it looks like a lose-lose situation.

FUZZ—You know, I’m now starting to shift some of my blame to Santana. Last year we heard that he loves the Twins and all this shit. Never believe that people! We offered him $20 million a year and he declined in a second. He’s asking for $130-$140 million dollars!!!! We can’t pay him that! But, not many other teams could pay him that either. So his contract demands limited the teams we could deal him too. That’s bullshit in my mind. Only like 3-4 teams could handle a contract like his so our leverage went down the shitter once he came out publicly with that demand. Maybe that’s more baseball’s fault. You can look at it that way also. He knows someone will pay that so he went for it. But in the end, he showed no loyalty to the Twins, which he claimed he had.

DOGG—I don’t think it’s a problem at all. We signed the guys that we could absolutely afford and our payroll would’ve been relatively large if we had signed Hunter and/or Johan with Cuddyer and Morneau. We kept the right guys in my mind. Paying Johan $150M, Hunter $90M or Cuddyer and Morneau for $115M combined? I think it was the best scenario by far actually because paying a pitcher that much money is downright stupid and paying an aged CF who is going to be on the downside of his career within a year or two is even more stupid. I of course want the prospects we got in the deal to pan out but don’t think we lose much even if one of them pans out to be an above average MLB player. Johan was gone no matter what and Bill Smith knew that since day one. He was trying to get more from Boston or NY but had to accept this deal after both teams pulled out of the sweepstakes. I think Bill gets an A with the Johan situation.

FUZZ—I think an "A" is a little strong. Johan and agent gave him a Tuesday deadline and he took the best deal. But, the other deals were better at the winter meetings and he rolled the dice hoping he could get more. I said before, I probably would have done the same thing, but I'm not a GM--he is. Instead of taking a good deal (not great) he played a little poker hoping Boston, New York and mystery team would outbid each other for him. That didn't happen. Boston and New York pulled back their offers and he was stuck with the decision he had to make.

You could have called Johan's bluff with him saying he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause during the season, but I wouldn't have done that. That's where I applaud Billy boy. Either trade him now or sign him. Billy had to get him out by Tuesday or the situation would have gotten worse. Johan didn't want to sign here and the Twins waited a little too long. They got an alright deal but I don't know how you can't look back to the better offers back in December for criticism on not pulling those.

DOGG—Do we really know those deals were better at the winter meetings? I agree that the deals looked more pleasing then with Hughes and Cabrera but this Gomez kid could turn into a stud for us. The 3 pitchers we got are question marks but all prospects are question marks. Yeah, it’s great to get the “top prospects” but remember, they are “prospects” for a reason and reason is that they haven’t proved anything at the big league level. I think Hughes is dirty and Cabrera is serviceable already but maybe Billy and our scouting staff saw things they liked more from the Mets prospects? This trade can be re-evaluated in 3 years. The pitchers we claimed should have proven their worth by then and Gomez will hopefully be the “top prospect” we thought we’re getting in the trade.

Q—We keep talking about how everyone has to calm down and wait to see how these young guys pan out. But what about the upcoming season? Are these guys going to have any sort of impact this year? I’d say that Humber has a real shot to be our 5th starter. The only reason for that is he’s 25 already and we need to find out now if he’s going to be legit. We don’t have a few years to decide like we do with Gomez and Guerra. He has to prove himself right away. I’d like to see Gomez get another year of seasoning in AAA, but get called up later in the summer if/when we’re out of the race.

DOGG—I think Gomez should make his debut before the other three players acquired. Hell, I think he should be our opening day CF the way it looks right now. Run him in CF, Cuddy in RF and Delmon in LF. That is going to be a very good outfield in my mind. You got some speed, good arms and youth. Start Gomez, let him take his lumps throughout the year and watch him become a star in next 2-3 years.

FUZZ—The Twins don't have a history of rushing prospects. They usually have to put in time in the minors before they crack the majors. Saying that, I think you have to put Gomez in center immediately. Everyone's favorite coach Gardy wants to put Cuddyer out in center! I don't like that and think Gardy was 14 Bud Diesels down when he said it. Gomez may be out of the Wesley Snipes version of Willie Mays Hayes, where he runs like Mays but hits like shit but you need to put him out there. He's a 5-tool projected player that is our only viable centerfielder at this point.

Q—I just don’t want to rush him and stunt his growth as a player. Like you said Fuzz, we don’t rush our prospects through the minors. The Mets, on the other hand, do all the time. They’ve even been criticized by the media for pushing guys like Lastings Milledge through too quickly. Just because New York gave Gomez some time doesn’t mean that we should. Humber and Mulvey on the other hand, I wouldn’t be upset if they get a shot this year.

DOGG—We get nothing out of Guerra or Humber this year. Guerra sounds like he has the potential to be a legit front of the rotation pitcher but by being so young, there is no way the Twins organization rushes him up this year or even next year. We are the slowest at developing guys from the minors to the majors. We develop them well in my mind but hesitant to pull the trigger early on young players. We’ll get nothing out of Humber ever.

Mulvey will be in our rotation this year. All I know the guy by are his numbers from college and the minors but sounds like a guy Rick Anderson will develop. Get another pitch in the repertoire and he’ll show signs of being a middle of the rotation starter by year’s end.

Bottom line, we got a stud CF, one potential stud young pitcher and one potential pitcher who’ll contribute this year

FUZZ—I think all three pitchers start in the minors this year with the big timer Guerra not seeing the majors for 2-3 years. The middle prospects Humber and Mulvey could be up at any time this year, especially with our young and inexperience staff. Our rotation could be a revolving door.

NIC—Humber will begin the year as our 4th or 5th starter. Gomez will start the season in the minors along with the other 2 guys.

Q—Speaking of pitchers, how does this trade affect Joe Nathan? Is it possible that he gets moved for someone that can play this year? I don’t know what kind of guy we might be looking for considering we have brand new players at 4-5 positions (2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF), but is he going to be with this team long term? He’s already said he wants big money and we’ve committed to two pretty big contracts this winter already—two more than every other off-season.

DOGG—How much can we really get for Nathan? I know he’s a damn good closer but closers are dime a dozen these days. If we can actually get a player or players that we are interested in, then fine. If not, just keep him so we can close down games we have a lead 99% of the time. I’m sure Billy Smith has had enough of this trade crap for about the next 10 years so I see him staying patient for now.

FUZZ—Billy Smith seems like a wheeler and dealer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he packages Nathan with more pitchers for another impact player before spring training. You can find closers in this league especially if your minor league pitching is deep. Ours is, so I expect to move Nathan at some point before he becomes a free agent. We are obviously rebuilding, so I don’t see paying him top dollar worthwhile.

DOGG—I can see why you would move Nathan but lets win the games we’re actually leading going into the 9th. You don’t want to disappoint fans either with moving that many impact players in any given year. Billy has to show that he’s here to win games now and in the future.

Q—Again, my biggest concern is if we could get fair value (whatever that is) for him since teams know we probably aren’t going to pay him and that he may want out. I’m all for keeping him, but is he worth the money considering we might not win a hell of a lot of games over the next 2-3 years? Or am I selling this squad short?

FUZZ—We’ll finish around .500 or just below. Our offense will be better but our pitching will take a giant hit---obviously. Scott Baker is your opening day starter. Say that line to yourself again and tell me if we’re making the playoffs this year.

DOGG—I actually see the Twins having a strong year. I like Harris and Young in the starting lineup with additions Everett and Lamb as well. A lot of new faces but most of which are young which usually means good team chemistry. I have Young having a huge year: .280, 25+, 100+.

Q—I love Delmon Young, but I just think the staff is way too young and inexperienced to win any more than 80-85 games. I do think the offense will be improved and that you won’t see as many “quality losses” as we’ve had in the last few years, though that will also be because we won’t have as many quality starts. Liriano is the key to success this year for sure.

As much as I don’t want to talk about it, how good does this make the Mets? Are they the favorites in the NL?

DOGG—I got Johan going down with a monster arm injury after breaking off a changeup that drops 4 feet. He’s done and Mets miss the playoffs once again.

FUZZ—I can’t predict truthfully how the Mets will do as a whole but Johan is going to be awesome. He’s on the big stage now, which he always wanted. I think the NL Cy Young is a lock for him. I see him winning 25 games this year. I don’t see why he’s not going to be great. He’s the best pitcher in the game going to the National League where lineups are weaker. The Mets have a pretty good offense so he’s Cy Young for sure.

The main point that I’m sick of is in the last 3-4 years, we’ve traded Randy Moss, Kevin Garnett and Johan Santana. Three absolute studs. But since we’re in a mid-market, since some GM’s don’t know what they’re doing and since it just seems like a Minnesota thing, we lose our stars. It blows. Start preparing for an Adrian Peterson departure…


Pup Money said...

Trade Nathan, there's no point with him being here now. Trade him while he's hot is what I say because what's wrong with Pat Neshek taking the mound in the 9th? If we trade Nathan now we can solve our current holes.

Chosman said...

I got Johan ending the year with no less than 2 bombs. You saw that smooth swing in interleague play. He'll challenge Zambrano for best hitting pitcher in the NL

Mr. Cue said...

Pup--while I agree that we should try to trade Nathan while there is interest and we can still get something from him, the big concern I have is that Gardy already said that if we don't have him on the team that Neshek won't be closing; it would either be Rincon or Crain. Sounds like a lot of 9th inning losses for a team that will lose plenty of games already.

Sow Cow said...

Great post, guys.

All I have to say is Fuck Johan. He was my favorite Twin of all time, and he fucked us over so he could make an extra 3-4 million a year! We offered him $100 million! It's not like we weren't playing the game. He was just greedy and wanted a bit more money a year.

He was all set to go down as the greatest player in Twins history. Now he's dead to me. Fuck Johan.

Finn-to-Win said...

I know we have to wait for prospects to develop but we always have to wait for players to develop. So, when and if they develop we will have to pay them big money as well, then we trade them away for some more prospects and the cycle continues. What happens over the next 3 years when Cuddy and Mourneau both have great numbers over those years? They will want to be on a winning team that has a shot at winning the WS. It just gets a little old after awhile, always waiting for players to develop.

I guess I just miss how much fun it was to watch the 87 and 91 WS games in the living room with the whole family staying up past your bed time. Maybe we got spoiled.

Sow Cow, hard for me to go against Puckett as the best Twin of all time.

Pup Money said...

Johan Santana as the greatest Twin of all-time? Kidding me? Kirby Puckett by far is the greatest player in Twins history, followed by Harmon Killebrew. I honestly see Brad Radke as the better pitcher in Twins history than Johan Santana, you can definitely argue it but who was always there to go 7 innings and stop a losing streak? Radke. Who always took the ball in clutch situtations? Radke. Who just went about his business and pitched like a pro? Radke. Johan may have the season stats, but in the playoffs he faltered. By no means was Johan not a great pitcher for the Twins, but he's in the middle of the Top 7.

Finn-to-Win said...

Who would give up first inning homers all the time Radke.

Chosman said...

Yeah Pup except Radke never pitched more than 6 2/3 in any playoff game where as Johan threw 7 innings of shut out ball against the Yankees in 2004 when they had the best record in the AL. So I'll take Johan's career record of 1-3 with a 3.97 against Radke's 2-3 with a 3.60 since all of Johan's playoff games in 2002 were out of the bullpen. Radke out of the bullpen would have meant HR-city.

Sow Cow said...

Kirby Puckett lost his luster as "my favorite Twin" when I found out he sexually assaulted a woman at Red Stone in Eden Prairie... and also the fact that the people who knew him said he was a complete asshole, and cheated on his wife every night.

My comment was that he was my "favorite Twin of all time"... this is undeniable, since it was MY opinion.

Santana as best Twin of all time? Well, he didn't play enough years to earn that honor... but he would have been on a long enough timeline.

It's sad to see him go, but he's dead to me (unless the deal falls through)... much like Clemens is dead to Simmons.

Pup Money said...

I agree on that however, Radke was superb in his first career postseason game. 3 errors in the first two innings cost him to go only 5 innings, nonetheless he kept us in the game. And who could forget Game 5? 6 significantly pitched innings only to have it nearly blown by Eddie Guardado. The following year, in Game 2 he had another outstanding outing until Hawkins decided to inherit a runner as well one of his own. The following postseason he kept the Twins in the game. The point I'm making is Brad Radke kept them in the games more consistently than Johan Santana, and that's a fact. It will still be fact until Johan proves himself in the postseason. Johan is a great regular season pitcher, but when it comes to the postseason he falters.