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Billy Martin, Hall of Famer?
2007-11-30 10:15
by Bruce Markusen
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.
 

By now, everyone has heard the list of names featured on the Hall of Fame’s player ballot for 2008. Several ex-Yankees highlight the first-year eligibles, including Tim "Rock" Raines, David Justice, and Chuck Knoblauch. Raines should be elected, but won’t be, simply because too many writers lack an appreciation of on-base percentage and the rest of Raines’ well-rounded game. Justice and Knoblauch obviously don’t deserve election to Cooperstown in spite of being fine everyday players and key contributors to the most recent Yankee dynasty.

In my mind, a far more interesting Yankee candidacy can be found on the other ballot—the managers/umpires ballot being considered by the Veterans Committee this Sunday. Of the seven managers on that ballot, perhaps the most fascinating and controversial storyline involves Alfred Manuel "Billy" Martin. Best remembered for being the five-time skipper of the Yankees, Martin also made numerous headlines during his stops in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas, and Oakland. Does "Billy the Kid" deserve election to the Hall of Fame? Let’s take a closer look.

There’s a tendency to underrate Billy Martin as a player and overrate him as a manager. Perhaps that’s because most of the images that the 50-and-under crowd retains of Martin are from his combative, fiery, and turbulent tenure as a field manager. Yet, in examining his Hall of Fame candidacy, we should consider the entirety of his baseball career, including his significant accomplishments as a scrappy, overachieving player for a lasting baseball dynasty.

It’s easy to forget that Martin’s playing days spanned the entire decade of the 1950s, lasting a total of 11 seasons. A favorite of Yankee manager Casey Stengel, Martin became the team’s semi-regular second baseman during the first half of the decade. In 1952, ’53, and ’56, he played more games at second base than any other Yankee; at other times, he filled in at shortstop and third base, giving Stengel depth and flexibility on the infield. A good fielder with occasional power who twice reached double figures in home runs, Martin sometimes struggled to reach base and lacked the speed to steal bases. Though never one of the best players on his own team, he did make the All-Star steam in 1956 and emerged as a decent complimentary player on teams filled with heavy-hitting stars from top to bottom.

The postseason, however, saw Martin transform himself from ordinary player to clutch-hitting hero and defensive stalwart. In the 1952 World Series, he helped the Yankees preserve a two-run lead in Game Seven by catching a wind-blown pop-up that normally would have been handled by the first baseman or the catcher. He fared even better in the ’53 World Series, batting an even .500 with two home runs and eight RBIs, numbers that earned him the Series’ Most Valuable Player Award. Even in later Series, Martin continued to play well, hitting .320 in 1955 and .296 in 1956. For those who consider the postseason a crapshoot, Martin’s numbers might not mean much; for others, they represent a gritty player who performed his best when the games meant the most.

After his playing career ended, Martin spent eight seasons preparing for what would become his true calling—managing in the major leagues. Working as a scout, third base coach, and minor league skipper in the Twins’ organization, Martin finally earned his first big league managing job in 1969. The Twins promoted him from their Triple-A farm team and promptly watched the rookie manager lead the team to the postseason in the first year of divisional play. In winning 97 games, the Twins improved by 17 games over their 1968 finish. Martin extracted the most from role players like Rich Reese and Cesar Tovar, watched stars Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva thrive in the top half of the Minnesota lineup, and helped develop two 20-game winners.

Just as quickly as it blossomed, Martin’s tenure in Minnesota turned sour. The Twins lost three straight games to the Orioles in the playoffs and team owner Calvin Griffith became disenchanted with his temperamental skipper, who had beaten up one of his 20-game winners in August. Regarding those problems as more significant than the sum of Martin’s work during the regular season, Griffith fired Martin. There would be no opportunity for a Martin encore in Minnesota.

Instead, Martin sat out the 1970 season and awaited his next opportunity. That would come in 1971, when the Tigers fired the venerable Mayo Smith and brought in the younger, more energetic Martin. Despite having an aging team that paled in comparison with the 1968 World Championship club, Martin guided the Tigers to a strike-shortened AL East title in 1972. The Tigers then extended a vastly superior A’s team to a decisive fifth game in the ALCS, losing by just one run. Given the team’s age, it should not have come as a surprise that Martin’s Tigers would stumble in 1973. Perhaps prematurely and almost certainly unfairly, the Tigers gave Martin the boot in mid-season.

Having managed mostly veteran teams in Minnesota and Detroit, Martin then showed his ability to handle young talent at his next stop. The Rangers, looking for a fulltime successor to Whitey Herzog, gave Martin a call during the second half of the ’73 season. Well on their way to 105 losses, the Rangers had no chance to salvage the season, but hoped that Martin could work some magic the following summer. Martin did just that, leading Texas to a remarkable 27-game improvement, good for second place in the AL West. Overcoming a shocking lack of power (only 99 home runs for the season), Martin encouraged the Rangers to run wild on the bases. (Martin loved an aggressive approach to the game; if his team had speed, he used it.) As for his pitching staff, Martin had only one reliable reliever in the bullpen, so he relied heavily on Jim Bibby and Fergie Jenkins to soak up innings. The net result? In spite of a large disparity in talent, the Rangers finished within five games of the World Champion A’s.

Unfortunately, the Rangers may have improved too much too quickly, creating unrealistically high expectations. The pattern of "season-after" dismissals continued in 1975, when the Rangers regressed badly (in other words, back to reality) and the front office responded by blaming Martin. They sacked Martin in mid-summer, just as the Tigers had done in 1973. The latest firing set the stage for what would become the most famed part of Martin’s career.

On the prowl for a high-profile manager, George Steinbrenner offered Martin the Yankees’ job in the middle of the 1975 season. With a talented team on the verge of contention and an owner willing to spend money for top-flight talent, Martin found himself in the most attractive managerial situation of his career. It was also the most dangerous, given Steinbrenner’s penchant for meddling, a bubbling New York media that forever in search of soap opera storylines, and Martin’s own combustible personality.

In 1976, Martin took the Yankees as far as they should have gone—a league pennant and a four-game World Series loss to Cincinnati’s vastly superior "Big Red Machine." The following year, expectations for New York grew with the signing of Reggie Jackson, whom Martin didn’t like. Stubbornly, Martin refused to bat Jackson cleanup for most of the summer, then finally relented when faced with the loss of his job. Battling the egos of Jackson and Steinbrenner throughout the year, along with his own continuing struggle with alcoholism, Martin steered the Yankee ship—sometimes unsteadily—after a faulty start. In spite of a chaotic clubhouse and frenzied front office atmosphere, Martin and the Yankees won the World Series, defeating two very good teams (the Royals and Dodgers) along the way.

Predictably, Martin’s first marriage with New York ended the following summer. With the Yankees underachieving and Martin having disparaged Reggie and George as "born and convicted liars," the Yankees laid the axe to Martin’s neck. He would return during the ill-fated 1979 season, only to take the fall again, this time at season’s end.

Then came the most astonishing work of Martin’s career. He became the manager of the A’s, who had long since fallen into disarray under the penny-pinching ownership of Charlie Finley. Playing an aggressive style that emphasized the use of the stolen base, the hit-and-run, and a variety of trick plays, Martin’s philosophy became known as "Billy Ball." Knowing that he had little talent in his bullpen, Martin asked his starting pitchers to complete games at a time when most other managers pulled their starters in favor of long, middle, and closing relievers. In the short term, Martin’s strategies worked.Paced by an astonishing 94 complete games in 1980, Martin’s A’s jumped 29 games in the standings, from 7th to 2nd place. After overachieving to open the 1981 season with a record of 17-1, the A’s made the postseason, defeating the Royals in the Division Series before falling to the Yankees in the League Championship Series. That the A’s made it that far without a standout in the bullpen (Dave Beard and Jeff Jones tied for the team lead with three saves) and without anything approximating a quality infield (featuring the immortal double play combination of Shooty Babitt and Rob Picciolo) remains a testament to Martin’s in-game managerial brilliance.

Like the A’s, all of Martin’s teams showed significant improvement over their immediate predecessors—no matter how mediocre the talent on hand. Unfortunately, none of the turnarounds endured in the long run. By the third season, Martin had usually clashed with the front office or alienated too many of his players, with several taking residence in his ever-expanding doghouse. In the case of the A’s, he blew out the arms of overused starters Mike Norris, Rick Langford, Matt Keough, and Steve McCatty, whose careers all short-circuited.

Late in his career, during his final tours of duty with the Yankees, Martin’s managing started to show additional cracks. Oh, he still won games at a clip well over .500, but employed some bizarre pieces of strategy. During a 1985 game in Detroit, Martin ordered Yankee third baseman Mike Pagliarulo to bat right-handed against Tigers left-hander Mickey Mahler. A stunned Pagliarulo, who hadn’t switch-hit in years, proceeded to strike out feebly against Mahler. And then, during Martin’s final managerial go-round in 1988, he made a number of ill-advised tactical decisions. He mishandled closer Dave Righetti, concocted a seven-man rotation at one juncture, and even used pitcher Rick Rhoden as a designated hitter despite the fact that the veteran right-hander suffered from a bad back. If anything, Martin’s two final managerial terms damaged his Hall of Fame chances; his resume might look stronger without those ill-fated stints in pinstripes.

So how do we assess the winding, checkered career of Martin, featuring nine stops with five different franchises along the way? The bottom line adds up to two league pennants and one World Championship, which are relatively light numbers for a Hall of Famer. On the other hand, his winning percentage of .553 puts him in the company of Walter Alston (.558) and above Sparky Anderson (.545). Martin also deserves some credit for five division titles, some of which were accomplished with severely flawed teams. Let’s also give him extra credit for his miraculous work in Texas and Oakland, succeeding where nothing short of managerial genius would have sufficed. And, of course, let’s not forget his accomplishments as a player, particularly as a contributor to Stengel’s Yankee dynasty.

In the short term, few managers have ever done better than Martin. Given one game to win, I doubt that I would pick anyone other than "Billy the Kid." A brilliant in-game strategist, Martin understood how to make out a lineup card, usually stacking his best hitters at the top of the order. He also played to the strength of his pitching staff. If his bullpen didn’t have quality arms, he avoided it. If it did, he tried to ride the hot hand in the late innings.

Unfortunately, Martin cannot be fully assessed without looking at his chronic off-the-field problems. As much as some analysts don’t like their inclusion in the debate, character and integrity are part of the criteria for the Hall of Fame. This is where Martin failed badly, fueled largely by his problems with alcohol. He repeatedly fought with others, from perfect strangers (including the famed marshmallow salesman) to his own players (Boswell and Ed Whitson). He frequently bullied members of the press or lesser employees in the front office. These incidents didn’t represent merely a flaw in Martin’s character; they prevented him from achieving more lasting legacies with each of his teams. After all, some of those conflicts resulted in his early firings, preventing him from achieving the kind of long-term success that might have resulted in additional pennants or World Championships. It’s that lack of sustained excellence, the inability to produce repeatedly good results in any stop outside of New York, that ultimately make Martin fall just short of the lofty Hall of Fame standard.

Bruce Markusen is the author of the upcoming book, Out of Left Field: Unusual Characters in Baseball History, which features an entry on Billy Martin. He also writes Cooperstown Confidential for MLB.com. Please send feedback to bmark@telenet.net.

 

Comments (85)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-11-30 11:42:04
1.   Mattpat11
That was probably the most polite way I've ever seen someone phrase Billy's drinking. I usually see "Mean fucking drunk"
2007-11-30 12:06:08
2.   Scott Long
No manager in my lifetime did more with less than Billy Martin. Sure, some of his fixes were short-term and not in the best interest of his team in the long-term (see pitchers usage), but the guy was brilliant at bringing life to a team which needed it.

Interesting that you bring Martin up, right after my take on Tim Raines. As you mention very gently, Martin had a problem with the bottle. He is probably MLB's most famous case, but as incidents with Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox, 2 sure hall of fame managers reveal, he is far from being alone. The tradition of having alcohol in the clubhouse, not to mention the boys club mentality the game breeds, with the party never stopping many nights on the road has been romanticized in the past.

As I constantly discuss at my site, I'm no moralist, which is the reason I have real problems with the public's view that steroids are the utmost evil, while all other drugs are lesser evils. Truthfully, if I was an owner, alcohol would be the drug I would be most concerned with because I don't see where it can ever be a help on the field. For every case where a hungover (if not drunk) Grover Cleveland Alexander or David Wells pitching well on the mound or a Max McGee groggily just getting to the Super Bowl field after partying the night before only to become the MVP of the game, my guess is there are far more cases where athletes gave a poor effort because of alcohol.

Off my soapbox now, as I need a beer after all of this writing.

2007-11-30 20:16:56
3.   JL25and3
I think you overestimate Billy's playing career. Playing well in the World Series might elevate a career from excellent to great, but it just doesn't do that much for an otherwise bad career. Billy was scrappy and gritty, but he also had a career OPS+ of 81. Also, it was as a player that he developed his talent for self-immolation and for just plain pissing people off - seven teams in his last five years as a player.

He may have been the best manager I ever saw - for one season. (For the long haul, give me Earl Weaver any day.) But every job ended badly, and usually quickly. that has to detract from his record (and you're right about his last, twitchy, paranoid stints with the Yankees).

One of his most consistent traits as a manager was piling a ton of innings on a couple of starters. Some of them, like Jim Kaat and Fergie Jenkins, handled it just fine. Quite a few others never recovered, like Dave Boswell, Ed Figueroa, and that infamous A's staff.

And one thing I've never quite been able to explain is his remarkable record with Ron Guidry. Guidry pitching for Billy: 84-26, 3.07. Guidry pitching for any other manager: 86-65, 3.72.

2007-11-30 20:51:43
4.   Bruce Markusen
JL25and23, I'm not trying to say that Martin was a frontline player, just that he was a little better than he's sometimes remembered, largely because there's so much focus on what he did as a manager.

I don't know how much stock I would put in citing OPS for middle infielders from the 1950s. Most middle infielders of that era weren't expected to hit for power or carry the load offensively; defense was usually the first and foremost priority. Different game than today, different expectations. Martin was a good defensive second baseman who could also fill in at short and third, a good bunter who led the league in sacrifice bunts one year, and an aggressive (sometimes overly so) and smart player who didn't have a lot of natural talent. He was a decent role player on some great teams, and a guy who elevated his play in the World Series.

Comparing him to recent Yankee second baseman, he was clearly not anywhere near as good as players like Cano, or Soriano, or Knoblauch. He was more like a Mariano Duncan type, though probably not that good. (I hesitate to bring up Womack, since those are bad memories.) I think there's a perception that Martin was just a bit player or a utility guy; I think he was a little bit more than that.

You're absolutely right about his handling of pitchers. He was a big believer in riding his two best pitchers (or four in the case of Oakland). He wouldn't have been able to do that today, not with the emphasis on pitch counts and innings totals. I'm not sure how he would have reacted to today's restrictions.

2007-11-30 21:37:12
5.   Voxter
I'm sure their personalities in real life are completely divergent, but the early part of this resumé sounds uncannily like that of Joe Girardi.
2007-11-30 21:50:39
6.   Mattpat11
MLB.com has a headline "Rogers re-signs"

I read that as "Roger re-signs" and did a spit take.

2007-12-01 02:49:47
7.   OldYanksFan
"Those considerations may nudge the Yankees into adding Hughes to their offer for Santana. The Yankees and Red Sox are also engaged in ongoing talks with the Oakland Athletics about Dan Haren, an accomplished pitcher who is a much cheaper option than Santana. Haren would cost, in prospects, a package comparable to what Santana is commanding, but he is already under contract for the next three years at $16.25 million".

Once again, we are getting out GM'ed by the Sox. We get the best+/- for 6 years at $150m, they get the 5th best+/- for 3 years at $16m.

SANTANA IS TOO EXPENSIVE!!!
NO PITCHER IS WORTH $150 MILLION!!!
NOBODY. NOT A TWO-ARMED SANDY KOUFAX!!!

As a FA, we can over-overpay this dude because it is only money. So we overpay $40 million. I can afford that.
But to ALSO give up Phil? Melky and Tabata/Horne????
INSANITY!!

Do drugs if you need to, but JUST SAY NO to Santana!

SAVE PHIL HUGHES!

2007-12-01 02:58:32
8.   OldYanksFan
The damn sun isn't up yet, I got heartburn from last night's pizza, and I'm already RIPSHIT PISSED!

There is only one salvation.
ARE YOU LISTENING CASHMAN?
Make like we are getting Santana, stall, let the Sox get Harden (and trade away their young studs), and the DROP THE SANTANA DEAL!

Let him sit in Minn. for a year, and buy the dude NEXT YEAR!

NO MORE TRADING OUR STUDS!
NO MORE OVERPRICED VETERANS!
NO MORE LONG CONTRACTS FOR PITCHERS!
ARE YOU LISTENING CASHMAN?

SAVE PHIL HUGHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2007-12-01 09:12:16
9.   Mattpat11
I think Haren is extremely overrated.
2007-12-01 10:52:14
10.   williamnyy23
7 Settle down...for starters, Dan Haren is not even in Johan Santana's class. Secondly, if you are willing to give Johan $40mn as a FA, then money is irrelevant, so remove it from the equation.

The only question the Yankees should be considering is how much better will Santana be than Hughes over the next 5-6 years. There are so many different possible answers to that question that the eventual outcome of such a swap could range from a steal to a bust.

Also, while Keith Law and others have argued that you are only trading for one year, the fact remains that if Santana is dealt (and the Twins seem intent on it), he will likely sign an extension and be lost to you forever. Just because he has only 1 year on his deal with Minnesota, doesn't mean that if you decided to not make a deal, you'll get another crack at him next season. If that was the case, then I am sure no team would be offering the Twins much at all.

2007-12-01 10:58:52
11.   OldYanksFan
10 Haren is NOT Santana. But with Wang, Joba, Phil, IPK, Horne and others, when you consider our offense, Haren is more then enough. Look what we did the 2nd half of last year with an injured Phil. Haren at least replaces Pettitte (and a tad more)

$40mm/yr... in a long term contract... for a 29 years old pitcher.... You are joking, yes?

2009 FAs - (Age/ERA+ last 3 years)
A.J. Burnett (32/116)
Rich Harden (27/130ish)
John Lackey (30/134)
Jake Peavy (30/128)
Brad Penny (31/120)
C.C. Sabathia (28/129)
Ben Sheets (30/121)

2007-12-01 11:47:10
12.   JL25and3
11 The number doesn't matter. His point was that, if you're willing to pay him as a FA, take the money out of the equation.

Also, Santana may well not be available in a year. At this point, I'd guess that he won't be.

"But with Wang, Joba, Phil, IPK, Horne and others, when you consider our offense, Haren is more then enough." Out of curiosity, what were you expecting to give up for Haren? Why do you think Beane would give him away without getting one of The Untouchables in return?

Haren could arguably be worth as much as Santana in the trade market, because he's under contract at a bargain price for three more years. You may not have to give up Hughes/Melky/Jackson, but I'd be very surprised if it didn't take Kennedy/Melky to get him.

So you have to go out and sign Rowand, another overpriced veteran free agent. Put him and Haren on the team...and I think the Red Sox are still better. And, of course, if the Sox get Santana, they're much, much better.

2007-12-01 12:29:25
13.   monkeypants
3 His record with Guidry is fairly explicable, in my opinion. He pitched the hell out of him and got good results, then got fired, and didn't manage Lightning during his inevitable injury year that followed. Yeah, that's oversimplified, but I think there is some truth to it.
2007-12-01 12:55:05
14.   ChuckM
If this is true, then I'm gonna throw up...

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Lavelle E. Neal III believes the Yankees are now offering Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and Ian Kennedy in return for Johan Santana.

2007-12-01 13:06:49
15.   OldYanksFan
OK. Forget Haren You are correct. But in 2009, there are a number of quality pitchers to be BOUGHT. We keep all the kids. If Santana goes to Boston, Sabathia et al know they have a HUGE payday coming from the Yankees.

"The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Lavelle E. Neal III believes the Yankees are now offering Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and Ian Kennedy in return for Johan Santana."

Gee... Lets just throw in Tabata and get it done. I wonder if a Minn. newspaper has an agenda?

2007-12-01 13:38:39
16.   JL25and3
15 I don't get the myth that next year's FA class is going to be so much stronger. Sabathia and Santana may or may not get to free agency; I'd bet that neither one does. After them, it's the same old stuff.

13 It's an excellent idea. It may hold late in Guidry's career: big 1983, diminished 1984, big 1985, then done. But 1980-82, Guidry was healthy, and even pretty good - just not as good as under Martin. Maybe Art Fowler was an unsung genius?

The story goes that Fowler once went out to talk to a pitcher who was getting shelled. "I don't know what you're doing wrong," he said, "but it's sure pissing Billy off."

2007-12-01 15:42:44
17.   Bruce Markusen
How does a trade of Hughes, Cabrera, and SS Alberto Gonzalez (or Alan Horne) grab you? That's what's being reported as a possibility over at mlbtraderumors.com. I'm torn about whether to give up Hughes, but would not hesitate to give up Cabrera (who I like but could be replaced with Aaron Rowand)and Gonzalez (who can't hit at all.) I don't think that Kennedy is going to be in any deal along with Hughes. I just don't see the Yanks giving up two of the big three.

One other note on Billy Martin. I loved it when he hired Willie Horton to be his "attitude" coach.

2007-12-01 15:46:40
18.   OldYanksFan
16 There is a list in 11 .
Lets say the Yanks don't get Santana or any stud this year.
I think it will be obvious to everyone that next hot stove they will be looking HARD for a stud SP. Due to these regotiations, everyone now knows the Yanks will go 6/$150 for Santana. Zito got $18m for 7 years.

So, many of those guys on the list are good for better then Zito money.
How much will Cleveland give CC?
Will the Yankees offer $5m/yr more?
Even Posada and Mo were 'free Agents' this year. Yes, not a good example, but they were.

You don't think a number of guys on that list would like to talk to the Yanks next year?

2007-12-01 15:54:08
19.   monkeypants
13 '80-'82 is tought to evaluate because of the strike, but the alternating years pattern was already rearing its head (ERA+ 110, 129, 104).

17 I assume that any trade for anyone worthwhile will cost Melky--that does not bother so much, even though I am highly skeptical of Damon back in CF, because the team does have a sort of surplus of OF.

My trepidation about the trade, like yours, entirely involves Hughes. My anxiety is not entirely accurate, of course. For example, I am convinced that in any big trade that is not a total salary dump (like the Abreu deal) the Yankees will lose out. Second, I really looked forward to watching them try to develop all three (or more) young starters. Somehow I have a feeling that the team is panicking a bit not only about Santana, but also about Hughes. Have they been reading Was Watching, or something?

2007-12-01 16:05:25
20.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
I'll go out on a limb and say that over the next 10 years, Phil Hughes will have more wins than Joba Chamberlain. And I don't trade either for Santana. I'd take my chances trying to get Haren, Kazmir, etc. And if not, ride the big 3 for all they're worth...
2007-12-01 16:20:38
21.   JL25and3
18 Lackey and Peavy both have team options which are certain to be exercised; that takes most of the guts out of that list. Burnett, Harden and Sheets are always injured, so if you want to do Pavano and Wright again, be my guest. That leaves Sabathia and Penny; perhaps one of them will hit the market. But that's hardly a glut of quality starters.
2007-12-01 16:25:51
22.   ChuckM
This is getting to be too much for me...

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Lavelle E. Neal III essentially admitted he was guessing when he reported the Yankees were offering Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and Ian Kennedy to the Twins for Johan Santana.
Neal apparently had no inside info here, so there's still no reason to think the Yankees are willing to part with both Hughes and Kennedy. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal said this afternoon that the Twins are targeting right-hander Alan Horne or defensive-minded shortstop Alberto Gonzalez as the third player along with Hughes and Cabrera. In his latest blog, ESPN's Peter Gammons seems to think it's almost a given that the trade will be completed.

2007-12-01 16:28:51
23.   JL25and3
20 Kazmir is like Haren. You're not trading for either of them without giving up one of the top three pitchers.
2007-12-01 16:31:07
24.   Mattpat11
11 I wouldn't even consider AJ, Harden, Penny or Sheets.
2007-12-01 16:34:35
25.   monkeypants
20 As much as I like Hughes, ten years is not the issue in a trade such as this. How they perform over the next five years, and for how much money, is more relevant. If Santana helps bring home the WS trophy in the next fives years, all will be forgiven. That said, I'll go out on an even thinner limb and say that if this deal goes down, we will already regret it within five years.
2007-12-01 19:01:42
26.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
23 I agree - but the one of the 3 traded for Haren would be Kennedy, not Hughes.

25 Not only do I agree with your thinner limb, I'll go one further. We will win the WS once in the next 3 years and still come to regret this deal in the next 5 years.

2007-12-01 19:01:55
27.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
btw, happy to be proven wrong in time. really.
2007-12-01 19:31:41
28.   Schteeve
No matter what happens, at some point if they trade Hughes, the FO is going to get crucified.
2007-12-01 19:38:33
29.   ChuckM
This is from rotoworld. If Cashman can't talk Hank out of this, I think we're in trouble for the next 20 years...

SI.com's Jon Heyman reports that the Twins are holding out for either Alan Horne or Austin Jackson as a third player along with Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera in a Johan Santana deal.
Might as well. The Yankees aren't exactly known for their ability to draw a line in the sand, and why should they start when it's the best pitcher in baseball they're bartering to acquire? We'd part with Horne first, though he emerged as a fine starting pitching prospect last season. Heyman also says that the Red Sox may consider including Jacoby Ellsbury in a deal with the Twins if Minnesota was willing to include another player or two. He goes on to write, "Boston and Minnesota have remained in contact, but it's believed the Yankees have come closer to meeting the Twins' asking price to this point."

2007-12-01 20:00:48
30.   OldYanksFan
(save phil hughes... please)
Go get 'em Red Sox!
2007-12-01 20:05:17
31.   ChuckM
Never in a million years did I think that I would be uttering the words, "I hope the Red Sox get Johan Santana."
2007-12-01 20:19:31
32.   markp
Stop the insanity. Horne too? Why not send 'em Arod and pay his salary for them while we're at it. I can't believe Hank can be so stupid as to send Hughes by himself, let alone adding a bunch of other players, including another pitcher who can be a #1 or 2.
2007-12-01 20:42:42
33.   ChuckM
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

A Yankees official told Newsday on Saturday night that he is optimistic about the team's chances of acquiring Johan Santana.
Newsday didn't have any additional info on who might be included along with Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera.

2007-12-01 20:46:26
34.   bartap74
Now if they really want Hughes, Melky, Horne/Jackson, I think Santana/Nathan or Santana/Liriano would do the trick.
2007-12-01 23:26:54
35.   Zack
OMG people, get a grip. Rooting for the Sox to get Santana just so the Yanks can hold on to a pitching prospect? Have you lost your minds? Yeah, it will be great to see Hughes develop into whatever he will develop into while they don't sniff the playoffs playing in the AL east against that Boston rotation and a Rays rotation that can be just as good as what the Yanks throw out this year, if not better. Kazmir, Garza, Price, and Shields has MORE certainty than Wang, Joba, Hughes, Kennedy, and Moose. So hope you are comfortable with not making the playoffs for a few years or more.

You people have lost your mind. The mantle has swung from one extreme to the other, from win at all costs to hold onto every single kid at all costs.

Good grief!

2007-12-02 02:33:23
36.   Yu-Hsing Chen
they need to set a serious line and stick to it, yes he's Johan Santana, but like any other human being he could blow out his elbow, tear his shoulder , have a car accident or simply start to decline faster than you expect .. whatever, there's a certain risk factor you must weigh in. that's why the Twins aren't signing him (yes they COULD theoritically sign him, it ONLY cost them 1/3 of their payroll, if he's the end all player, WHY NOT? )

If they trade Hughes with Melky then the 3rd prospect bettter not be anyone better than Alan Horne (Kennedy / Jackson / Tabata / Montero / Betenaces etc..)

If Boston REALLY goes all the way to somehting like.. Buchholz + Lester +Ellsbury, then LET THEM HAVE HIM . you'll see the reasoning in a couple year, i'd be more than willing ot risk one or two year if it means they're screwed long term.

2007-12-02 04:52:43
37.   OldYanksFan
FWIW:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/people-against-trading-phil-hughes
2007-12-02 06:46:02
38.   OldYanksFan
Tyler from the NYT:
"The Twins know they would get Hughes and center fielder Melky Cabrera for Santana... [and] have told the Twins that at least five other prospects are untouchable — Dellin Betances, Alan Horne, Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and José Tabata.

According to two major league officials who have dealt with the Twins in recent days, the main issue holding up the deal is the third player the Yankees would give.

The Yankees would like an answer from the Twins today or tomorrow, when the winter meetings begin in Nashville. If they do not get Santana, the Yankees would probably turn their attention to the Oakland right-hander Dan Haren.

The Twins ... seem to covet [Ellsbury] even more than Hughes."

Ellsbury is an exciting player and looks like a natural. But am I missing something? Coveting a non-power OFer over the #1 Pitching in MiLB?

I hope we go after Haren. The A's are rebuilding and might accept IPK, Melky WITH 2 other second tier prospects. Between Jeff Marquez, Sanchez, Edwar Ramirez, Kelvin DeLeon, Ross Ohlendorf, Eric Duncan, Scott Patterson, Steven White, Karstens, Rasner and Meloncon(sp?), they would have some talent in the wings. Maybe 3 of these guys, if necessary.

We should remember that Haren'c contract is so cheap (in $$), that we could still give Sabathia a 5/$100m contract and still have less money invested then getting Santana.

I think we have to consider that Andy is done.

Haren, Wang, Phil, Joba, Moose/Horne looks pretty good. Is that one of the best 1-4 around? Even Old Moose must be one of the better #5s. Looks to me like 2-#1.5s and 2-#2s.

Am I off?

2007-12-02 07:41:05
39.   ChuckM
I was not "rooting" for the Sox to get Johan. My point was that it's gotten too expensive, in my opinion. Let the Sox give up 1/2 their top prospects at this point. The Yanks need to transition to a new core group of players while remaining in contention, which is an extremely difficult trick to pull off...
2007-12-02 08:33:16
40.   JL25and3
38 "Haren, Wang, Phil, Joba, Moose/Horne looks pretty good. Is that one of the best 1-4 around? Even Old Moose must be one of the better #5s. Looks to me like 2-#1.5s and 2-#2s."

That depends.

1. Is Haren the pitcher who put up a 137 ERA+ last year, or the one who was at 108 and 117 the two previous years?

2. How good are Hughes and Joba going to be right away? The odds are against both of them being legit #2-type pitchers immediately.

3. Moose might be completely, stick-a-fork-in-him done.

4. If the Red Sox were to get Santana, that might well give them three starters better than anyone on the Yankees. It would give them an extremely powerful and relatively young rotation. The Yankees will be looking at the wild card, at best, for quite some time.

2007-12-02 09:50:27
41.   monkeypants
38 "Ellsbury is an exciting player and looks like a natural. But am I missing something? Coveting a non-power OFer over the #1 Pitching in MiLB?"

Hitting tends to be much more predictable than pitching, and a very good full time position player is often more valuable than a very good starting pitcher.

If I am the Twins, and I am planning on parting with one of the best pitchers in the game, I might be tempted to err on the side of greater assurance than greater potential.

2007-12-02 10:01:06
42.   YankeeInMichigan
3 Steve Goldman's explanation for Gator's Billy/non-Billy splits is that he spent the non-Billy years recovering from the Billy years.
2007-12-02 10:07:01
43.   YankeeInMichigan
13 19 Sorry, monkeypants, I see that you had already introduced this theory.
2007-12-02 10:10:48
44.   YankeeInMichigan
20 I agree. As a starter, Joba is still a work-in-progress with a few big questions: Can he get his change-up into major-leagure shape? Can he control his emotions for a 100-pitch marathon? Hughes, on the other hand, is already the complete package, and only experience (and health) stand between his current state and one of dominance.
2007-12-02 10:39:45
45.   Raf
Watching the Righetti no-hitter on the YES network right now. Has anyone else seen the broadcast, and am I the only one noticed that Zim's face (3b coach in '83) was blurred out?

Maybe I'm tired, maybe it's a video quirk.

2007-12-02 11:39:54
46.   Mattpat11
40 Dan Haren reeks of the new Javier Vazquez.
2007-12-02 12:09:59
47.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
46 I actually think Haren is the real deal. Something of a 1/1.5 though obviously short of Santana. But he's waaaay cheaper financially for some time to come, and may be gotten for Kennedy + 2-3 others, whereas we know Santana will not.

Olney is now reporting that the Red Sox will include Ellsbury (instead of Lester), and will up the quality of the rest of the package...

2007-12-02 12:22:18
48.   Mattpat11
47 He's going to have to do this for more than the first half of one season for me to buy that.
2007-12-02 12:33:46
49.   yankz
1. Why do people think Haren can be had without giving up Hughes? Beane might be the toughest GM in the game and he doesn't have to move Haren like Smith has to move Santana. And the Yankees will be competing with a lot more teams for Haren than just the Sox.
2. I had to share this from "Jazz Hands" over at LoHud because it's the craziest, funniest thing:

"You know what would be really funny? If Bill Murray were to show up at the winter meetings.

Like, he'd just show up at the Gaylord Opyland Hotel, in a suit, sit on the couches in the lobby, and stare at baseball executives, listen in on conversations, nod like he understands and approves from time to time.

Then, when he's in an elevator, with like, two people from the meetings (interns, nobody important) right before he would get off, he'd rub their heads and give them nuggies and say "no one will ever believe you," and run off.

That would be funny."

2007-12-02 13:08:21
50.   JL25and3
47 I'm not sure Haren is enough of an upgrade to be trading Kennedy + Melky for.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-12-02 13:19:37
51.   OldYanksFan
QUESTION: BP and other sites have 'calculators' that allow you to search, sort and sometimes calculate player data. In order to do this, they obviously need a database of baseball stats.

I am guessing this DB is available to the public? Do you purchase it? Is it 'Public Domain'? How current is it (yearly?). Anyone know how/where you get an MLB players stats database?

2007-12-02 13:22:22
52.   mehmattski
The behavior of fans on here sure has been admirable, wanting to build for the future and not spend as much money as possible to "buy a World Series."

But, seriously, sometimes it's just laughable the lengths that people will go to in order to discredit some of the best players in the game. With A-Rod, on the short list of best hitters of all time, it's about his clutchitudiness. With Johan Santana, it's because he hasn't been an absolutely perfect pitcher. Imagine, in 1989, if the Yankees had a chance to trade for Roger Clemens. Sure, he was the best young pitcher in ages, but he only had an ERA+ of 104 in his most recent season. Forget the 164, 175, and 213 in the previous seasons- he's clearly on the decline! I've also seen Santana's post-season record as evidence against trading for him. Insane.

I would be just as excited to see the three kids develop as Yankees. But let's not lie to ourselves: if all contracts became void and the teams were allowed to have one big draft, Johan Santana would be the first pitcher selected and probably in the top 5 overall.

Forget about the money- the Yankees have plenty of it. A team with Johan Santana and Andruw Jones is a much better team in 2008 than a team with Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera. As for 2009 and beyond, it depends on Jones' contract, but I feel pretty confident that 35 year old Santana will be able to compete with 28 year old Hughes. The chance of injury is just as great with a 21 year old unproven pitcher (who, I may add, has already had three injuries costing him a total of 12 months), as there is for a 28 year old proven top pitcher with no injury history.

Sorry, but if the question is "Do we trade for Johan Santana?" The answer is yes.

2007-12-02 13:40:51
53.   Mattpat11
I always thought it was sort of funny that people see a 130 ERA+, a 1.073 WHIP and 235 strikeouts as some sign of huge decline because its nit quite up to his triple crown year.
2007-12-02 13:47:55
54.   mehmattski
53 And the Yankees haven't had a full-year starter throw a 130+ ERA season since Andy Pettitte (135) in 2002.
2007-12-02 13:48:47
55.   OldYanksFan
I have been looking at ERA+ numbers, and them seem to be straight division: Player ERA / League ERA. Is this possible? Is there no park factor in there? Oakland is a strong pitchers park, isn't it. Tons of foul territory? What about defense/zone rating? That should be a factor in an 'equalized' ERA equation. Maybe I am giving too much credit to the stat ERA+?
2007-12-02 13:53:30
56.   OldYanksFan
Wow. Winter meetings at the Gaylord Opyland Hotel? Pretty sweet. Have you guys seen pictures of that joint?
2007-12-02 14:01:30
57.   mehmattski
55 According to BR.com's stats glossary: "ERA+ - the ratio of the league's ERA (adjusted to the pitcher's ballpark) to that of the pitcher. > 100 is above average and < 100 is below average. lgERA / ERA"

56 I've been to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. It's pretty unbelievable, if a bit disjointed (as PeteAbe noted earlier). It's basically like four giant hotels (each with their own theme) connected in the middle with a giant, 10 story rotunda. In the rotunda there are a bunch of shops and places to eat that are situated on an island... with a river running through it. The river is fully stocked with various fishes, and you can pay for a tour on a glass-bottomed boat around the river. The place is insane.

2007-12-02 14:01:59
58.   JL25and3
55 ERA+ is park adjusted. So is the "league ERA" that BR compares it with.

As for the database, here you go: http://www.baseball1.com/statistics/

2007-12-02 14:52:11
59.   Chyll Will
(hmm-mm-hmm-hm-hm...)
2007-12-02 15:04:48
60.   mehmattski
59 Crickets chirp slower when it's cold...
2007-12-02 15:17:24
61.   OldYanksFan
http://www.toursdirectory.com/Tours/Slideshow.asp?key=1021fantomopry1
for some nice pics of the torture our brass has to put up with
2007-12-02 15:18:55
62.   Zack
Mehmattski, Mattpatt, JL, I am right there with you. It boggles the mind how far people have swung from win at all costs to hold on to kids at all costs. Neither thought pattern is particularly conducive to actually winning anything. You have to give up quality to get quality, and just b/c the Yanks might miss out on Johan doesn't mean they are keeping Hughes.

You can bet your ass if the Yanks don't land Johan that they go hard after a much lesser pitcher like Haren, and that will cost them as they will have even less leverage.

People are also acting like the Yankees are trading for a pitcher who has 1 good year left in him. Look at Moose's year 29-34. I would be very surprised if Hughes puts up 6 years of that, and wouldn't you take similar years from Santana, except that they will be better b/c hes a better pitcher?

Fine, hold on to all the kids and therefore let most of them rot in the minors and go to waste. Do you really think that they will all pan out and that the Yankees have a use for all of them? If you could turn Cano into utley, wouldn't you? If you could turn Ajax into Prince Fielder, wouldn't you?

2007-12-02 15:39:49
63.   OldYanksFan
57 58 Thank you gentlemen. I feel better now.
2007-12-02 15:41:38
64.   OldYanksFan
64 I don't know. Prince Fielder is kinda ugly.
2007-12-02 15:54:34
65.   monkeypants
62 "Fine, hold on to all the kids and therefore let most of them rot in the minors and go to waste. "

Except in this case, the rumors did not mention kids buried in the minors--a (hypothetical) trade of Melky, Hughes and IPK means swapping the starting CF and two starting pitchers. Maybe that's a good package for Santana, maybe not.

2007-12-02 15:56:52
66.   ChuckM
WBZ-TV's Dan Roche has confirmed that the Red Sox have made Jacoby Ellsbury the "centerpiece" of their offer for Johan Santana.
2007-12-02 15:59:52
67.   Zack
65 Right, but even doing that, the Yankees STILL have a ton of RHP prospects. Far too many to make it. And Santana replaces Hughes.

The IPK, Hughes, Melky package ain't happening...

If the Sox really have included Ellsbury, there may be very little the Yanks can do. A package of him, Lowrie, Bowden, and Masterson fills a lot more of their needs then Hughes, Melky, and a prospect not named IPK. And I'm not sure anyone here would say that Hughes AND IPK is acceptable in the same deal.

And if Boston throws in Lester, its over...Even if they don't, it might be over.

2007-12-02 16:14:07
68.   monkeypants
67 Santana would replace Hughes, and ...... replaces Pettitte? And Damon goes back to CF--that's not bad, if he's not perpetually hurt again. But of course that rotates Matsui into LF, which caused everyone here to develop ulcers.

Again, this might be a good trade for the Yankees, but it is far from a no-brainer.

But as you say, the Sox may render the whole discussion moot.

2007-12-02 17:10:17
69.   ChuckM
Sources told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal that Johan Santana has informed the Twins he will not waive his no-trade protection to allow an in-season trade.

SI.com's Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees have set a Monday deadline for a resolution to the Johan Santana trade talks.

2007-12-02 18:50:09
70.   JL25and3
Rosenthal also says: "The sticking point with the Yankees is the identity of the third player. The Yankees want it to be a mid-level prospect, but the Twins have asked for players such as Class AAA shortstop Alberto Gonzalez and Class AA right-hander Alan Horne."

That's a joke, right, right? They can't really be balking at including Alberto Gonzalez, can they?

2007-12-02 20:05:46
71.   randym77
FWIW, Hank says the third player isn't the sticking point.
2007-12-02 22:42:38
72.   yankz
Latest LoHud wisdom: "ERA + is a fantasy geek stat and has nothing to do with any of this."

In their defense, he got called out on it.

2007-12-03 04:59:27
73.   OldYanksFan
72 Are you saying that Pete is cool with ERA but has a problem with ERA+?

MLB and stats folk need to get together and establish some recognized stats. Once you use sabermetric stats, there is go going back. But maybe I (we) rely to heavily on them? Could they have problems?

What if ERA+ and OPS+ are crap... and we have been quoting them in all out discussions? Zone Ratings and all the rest?

Did we need an official MLB Sultant of Stats to 'bless' new stats, and qualify their strengths and weaknesses?

Over at Lohud, you have a bunch of people just screaming their 'opinions' back and forth. Its a zoo. How can we qualify our opinions if we don't have advanced stats to use? What's the point of discussions (unless you HAVE stats) unless you like arguing for it's own sake?

2007-12-03 05:31:55
74.   Yankee Fan In Boston
of all the dramatic things i have seen... PETTITTE IS BACK!!!1!!!11!!

http://tinyurl.com/2c3t43

huge.

2007-12-03 05:37:08
75.   mehmattski
74 Uh.... wow. Please please please be true. If it is, the Twins just lost a ton of leverage. Moreover, the Yankees should stand pat with Pettitte.
2007-12-03 05:39:12
76.   Yankee Fan In Boston
75 stay in the negotiations, force the red sox to give up a TON, then get haren. this is awesome. i wasn't ready to see the guy walk off yet.
2007-12-03 05:57:25
77.   mehmattski
I'd like a source other than the Houston Chronicle before I start dancing in the streets... I mean, with how relentless the NY media has been this off-season, how could they possibly have gotten scooped? That's the only think that makes it sound fishy to me.
2007-12-03 06:02:40
78.   tommyl
74 Run, run, run from the Santana trade if that's true. Great Monday morning news!
2007-12-03 06:04:37
79.   Yankee Fan In Boston
77 i wonder if hank might have planted the story down there.

i'm choosing to believe it.

if it proves to be false, i'll be disappointed, but i can't help but smile at the moment.

2007-12-03 06:05:29
80.   williamnyy23
77 I don't know...if anyone would know, I'd think it would be a Houston paper...they seem to have most Andy/Rocket news first.

78 Pettitte's return is great, but it is short-term. The Yankees can't run from a Santana trade, but can be more steadfast in their offer.

2007-12-03 06:05:55
81.   3rd gen yankee fan
74 Excellent news, thank you!

btw everyone I'm okay with giving up Melky... (sniff...)

2007-12-03 06:06:34
82.   Levy2020
Re: Sanatana trade negotiations, 74

We don't have to sweat it
'Cause we've got ____ _______

2007-12-03 06:15:05
83.   tommyl
80 Yes, but Santana was being done because of short term needs. Now we can go long term with Hughes.

ESPN has picked it up, but they are just linking the Chronicle story. However, they now have quotes from Randy Hendricks, so it looks a bit more solid.

2007-12-03 06:18:19
84.   williamnyy23
83 With a 5-6 year extension, Santana is a long-term move. Everyone is comparing 15 years of Hughes to 6 years of Johan, but the reality is that when Santana's extension is up, Hughes will be a free agent. If Hughes turns out to be as good as Johan, what makes you think the Twins will be able to afford to keep him?
2007-12-03 08:46:19
85.   JL25and3
84 Absolutely right. The Santana deal would be for the long term.

Honestly, there seems to be some confusion between Johan Santana and, say, Rick Rhoden. This is not a quick-fix, one-season patch with an aging pitcher.

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