Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2008-01-30 05:28
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

From what I've read, critics believe that the Mets made a terrific deal in nabbing Johan Santana, offering a less attractive package than the ones the Yankees and Red Sox had reportedly offered.

ESPN analyst Keith Law loves the deal from a Mets perspective:

The Mets get Johan Santana without giving up Fernando Martinez, their best prospect, or Mike Pelfrey, their best young pitcher. They also immediately make themselves the favorites to win their division and have a good argument that they're the best team in the National League. It's hard to see this deal as anything other than a win for New York, and given how many people claimed (erroneously) that the Mets didn't have the prospects to get Santana, it must be doubly sweet for Omar Minaya right now.

For the Twins, or at least for their fans, this has to feel like a huge letdown after a winter that saw names like Jacoby Ellsbury and Phil Hughes bandied about by the media, although whether those players were actually available in trade talks is another matter entirely. The Twins deal their best asset and the best pitcher in franchise history -- not to mention the greatest Rule 5 pick in the history of that draft -- for quantity, but not the type of quality you expect a pitcher of his caliber to fetch in return.

Aaron Gleeman, a Twins fan-turned analyst, championed Santana from the start. He writes:

In a perfect world Santana would christen the new ballpark with an Opening Day start in 2010 and wear a Twins cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, but for whatever reason his remaining in Minnesota never seemed to be a legitimate option once the trade rumors began swirling. Swapping him for packages led by Hughes or Ellsbury would have put the Twins in a better position for both short- and long-term success, so if either of those deals were passed on then Smith made a major mistake.

With that said, getting Gomez, Guerra, Mulvey, and Humber from the Mets likely beats keeping Santana for one more season and taking a pair of draft picks when he departs as a free agent. A toolsy center fielder who hasn't shown much offensively, a very raw 18-year-old pitcher, and a pair of MLB-ready middle-of-the-rotation starters is no one's idea of a great haul for Santana, but it's not a horrible one and Smith may have backed himself into a corner by not jumping on better offers immediately.

The end result of a bad situation handled poorly is a mediocre package of players that has no one excited, but even acquiring Hughes or Ellsbury wouldn't have made losing Santana easy to live with. Trading away one of the best players in franchise history while he's still at the top of his game is a horrible thing and doing so without getting the best possible return for him is extremely disappointing, but the Santana trade still has a chance to work out in the Twins' favor. It just could have been better.

Over at BP, Nate Silver likes what the Mets have done as well:

...My sense is that people are looking for Sandy Koufax circa 1965 and that's not likely to be the case. For one thing, while Shea is an excellent pitchers' park, the Metrodome had become a pretty good pitchers' park too, so the marginal gain is less than you'd think. For another, Santana's talent level appears to have degraded just a tiny little bit from his 2004-2006 peak; he's always been a flyball pitcher, but now a few more of those flyballs are landing for home runs.

But. Santana's WARP and VORP totals are essentially pure profit for the Mets, since some of the guys they were running out there last year were replacement level talents at best. And it's hard to think of another permutation of team and player that does more to improve a team's chances of reaching the playoffs. Considering that the Mets managed to achieve this without giving up a single top-tier prospect, this is a happy day for Mets fans.

In the New York Sun, Tim Marchman writes that Omar Minaya has outdone himself:

Trading for Santana at all would have dispelled the evil funk that has surrounded the team since it collapsed down the stretch last fall; getting him by giving up what Minaya did makes for one of the great moments in team history. Much as the Atlanta Braves did when they signed Greg Maddux, then 27, in 1992, or the Boston Red Sox did when they traded for Martinez when he was 26, the Mets have acquired something irreplaceable: a pitcher established as the very best in the game with years left in his prime. It would be unfair to expect Santana to elevate his game, as Maddux and Martinez did by winning world championships and multiple Cy Young awards with their new teams. It would also be impossibly cynical not to wonder if he just might be able to do that.

John Harper of the Daily News, believes that Brian Cashman should get an assist here:

In the end, Omar Minaya deserves credit for waiting out the Twins on Johan Santana, finally making this conditional trade without giving up Jose Reyes, Fernando Martinez or Mike Pelfrey. But let's be honest: the GM to whom Mets fans should be most grateful Wednesday is Brian Cashman.

Make no mistake, had the Yankees wanted Santana, he'd be heading to the Bronx right now rather than Queens. And Cashman has to know that Hank Steinbrenner is sure to remind him of that if Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain don't blossom into an elite pitching trio as Cashman hopes.

It was Cashman, along with Hal Steinbrenner, the more fiscally conservative of the Steinbrenner brothers, who convinced Hank to invest in the young pitching rather than give it up and then spend huge money for Santana.

Judging from what I've read in the comments section here over the past couple of months, most Yankee fans are pleased that Phillip Hughes et al will be sticking around.

Hey, just a few short weeks until pitchers and catchers.

Hot Dog.

2008-01-30 05:53:08
1.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
Yup - most of this is in line with what what posted in the other thread. Happy day indeed. I wonder if there's any chance they can't reach an agreement on the contract extension?
2008-01-30 06:10:37
2.   williamnyy23
Copied (mostly) from the previous thread

I disagree with Gleeman. I think players like Guerra highlight exactly why this was a bad trade for the Twins. With so much uncertainty involved with the "upside" guys in this deal, you could argue their value is not that much greater than a 1st round draft pick. Looked at in that light, the Twins essentially traded one year of Santana AND Two first round picks for Guerra, Gomez, Mulvey and Humber. I wonder how those on that list would rate against a 1st round pick next season (keeping in mind that even late first rounders have increased in value as signability concerns have allowed talent to drop).

I am sure C.C. will be very interested in the Johan negotiations. If he breaks the bank, that will likely price Sabathia out of the Indians pay scale. Then, if you are the Yankees, you root for the Indians to stay in the pennant race so he isn't traded and then back up the truck (which would be filled with money not going to Santana). If, in 2009, you have Kennedy, Hughes and Sabathia in your rotation, then not making the Santana deal looks even better, even if Johan stays true to his Cy Young form. Think about that for a minute…would you deal Hughes, Kennedy, Melky and Sabathia for Santana? Of course not…that's why the real evaluation of the Yankees decision can't take place until more events shake out.

2008-01-30 06:19:03
3.   Sliced Bread
Reading Gleeman it's hard not to feel really bad for Twins fans. Damn. I would be sick over losing Santana. Hell, I would have organized a telethon to keep him in town.

Hey, he slipped right through our fingers, too, but he wasn't really ours to lose.

As the reality settles in, I'm more than a little wistful about what could have been... Johan stepping up to the mound for the Yanks... damn... but I couldn't be more excited about every one of the players we retained.

Overall, it's a great day for NY baseball. Really good day for the National League. Couldn't be worse for the Twins and their fans. Damn.

2008-01-30 06:37:13
4.   JL25and3
not to mention the greatest Rule 5 pick in the history of that draft

Not so fast there, Kowalski. There's a pretty strong case to be made for Roberto Clemente.

2008-01-30 06:44:18
5.   mbtn01
As a Mets fan I'm obviously jazzed but for the reasons articulated in that passage by Gleeman above I think the best possible result would have been for Santana and the Twins to agree to a deal.

Not to speak for all Mets fans but if you can find one who isn't shocked at the lack of Met bloodshed, let us know. I was prepared they'd surrender guys like Pelfrey, Church or even Maine or Perez, given the buzz.

I hope the Twins like the new guys. In 1989 the Mets coughed up 5 youngins for a 29-year-old Minnesota lefty, Frank Viola. The Twins probably got the better of that deal if only because Viola only had 1.5 good seasons left in him whereas Aguilera (and to a lesser extent Kevin Tapani) had a nice long career ahead of them.

2008-01-30 06:45:51
6.   Shaun P
Who would have thought - a fiscally conservative Steinbrenner? Hank might get all the press, but I think its going to be Hal getting the love, since it seems we have him (and Cashman) to thank for the Yanks keeping Hughes. Anyone know how to get a hold of Hal so we can send him a thank-you note?

How many days to pitchers and catchers?

2008-01-30 06:53:01
7.   Shaun P
2 I think you're right, BUT - the Twins tend to go el-cheapo in the draft (Ben Revere for $750K) unless they have a very high pick (Mauer). We know if they'd kept Santana, they highest pick they could have gotten was 16th, because the top 15th are protected. Given the money Santana would have been looking for, having a pick in the 25-30 range was more likely for the Twins. Add in their cheapness and I'm not sure the two picks are more valuable than the upside guys they got from the Mets.

I'm also not surprised that the Twins botched this. They never seem to accurately evaluate their needs. For example, how big a help would Ortiz have been from '01 on if they'd just let him hit for power? The Twins biggest need back then - and until Morneau finally broke out in 2006 - was a big bat, but they screwed Ortiz up and let him go for nothing.

2008-01-30 06:53:57
8.   Shaun P
7 Of course, if Guerra becomes a stud - Fransisco Liriano wasn't highly thought of in the days of the Pierzynski trade - and Gomez turns into a Crawford-like guy, I think the Twins will have done fine.
2008-01-30 06:55:08
9.   rbj
4 Nice catch there.
It is a gamble to go with our trio of young pitchers vs. a tried & true ace, but I'm comfortable with it. If it works out, it's a plus for Cashman (sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make), if not, it's a minus.

And while I would rather have had Johann wait a year in Minnesota, it is better the Mets get him than the Red Sox. Still, it'll be tough facing him in the World Series.

2008-01-30 07:27:30
10.   williamnyy23
7 If the Twins would pass at a chance for a late round steal ala Porcello last year, well, then they deserve their fate. Speakingof Porcello, does anyone doubt he is much better than the four names in this deal? If not, that lends more credence to the thought that the Twins would have been better off with the draft picks.
2008-01-30 07:28:29
11.   dianagramr
Supposedly the Twins upped their offer to 5 years/$100M to Santana, and he rejected it.

That's a LOT to walk away from, especially from your "home" team.

If Santana really didn't want to be a Twin anymore, c'est la vie ... but one wonders if this whole episode doesn't put another data point out there that mid-market teams can only compete 1-2 years at a time, then must deal their stars as free agency hits.

2008-01-30 07:31:06
12.   ms october
Who knows how much of this was motivated by wanting Santana out of the AL - now that the Tigers and Indians look to be competitive for the next few years, the Twins most realistic post season shot is the WC and if it keeps coming out of the AL east, which a Santana pick-up would likely ensure- they won't be in anytime soon.

Out of curiosity I wonder if the Yanks made any attempst at a package that was more in line with this Mets package, like the one suggested in the last thread with comparables.

I'm glad this was resolved though - if this had dragged on to the deadline I think that would have been a lot of speculation to put on Hughes until July.

2008-01-30 07:37:27
13.   dianagramr
If Santana really didn't want to be a Twin anymore, c'est la vie ... but one wonders if this whole episode doesn't put another data point out there that mid-market teams can only compete 1-2 years at a time, then must deal their stars as free agency hits.

addendum .....

.... regardless of revenue sharing and luxury taxes ...

2008-01-30 07:44:08
14.   JL25and3
12 Seems to me that the packages available from the Yankees or Red Sox a month ago would have given the Twins a better chance at the WC, even with Santana in the AL.
2008-01-30 07:48:56
15.   Yankee Fan In Boston
6 pitchers and catchers report two weeks from today. (but the young yankee pitchers started showing up at the tampa complex weeks ago, god bless 'em.)

happy day.

2008-01-30 07:52:33
16.   Rob Middletown CT
The Mets seem to have done very well. If I was a Twins fan, I'd probably be doubly pissed off today (1. having to trade him in the first place; and 2. getting that package in return).

It's hard to know for sure, but it sounds like the Twins could've had better packages from the Yanks and/or Sox, but waited and waited and ended up with this. It may be that they wanted Johan out of the league, and were willing to take a lesser package to accomplish that, but wow.

2008-01-30 08:37:51
17.   markp
A great off-season continues apace. Girardi as skipper, Arod stays, the kids stay, Eiland as PC, and the Giants in the SB. All that's left is the 1b situation and figuring out how to keep the kids under their innings limits.
2008-01-30 09:08:28
18.   standuptriple
I'm interested in seeing what the $/yrs turn out to be. I'd also wager that the Yanks would not pay a penny less than 10% more per season (and maybe even another year) than whatever he signs for. Add in the luxury tax and he'd have been making more than A-Rod. No thanks. Good luck in Queens, Johan.
The NL will be interesting in 2008. The Haren/Webb duo in AZ will be hard to beat in the playoffs, IMO.
2008-01-30 09:33:29
19.   Zack
14 And to add to that, you simply can't make a trade like that looking towards the post season. The Twins without Santana won't be sniffing the playoffs in that division for two years or so and would only be seeing Santana once or twice in the regular season. Sure, it would help the Yanks/Sox get to the playoffs, but its really only going to impact them in the playoffs, where as we know, all bets are off. The combination of not being a playoff team (maybe even with Johan) AND having Johan in the AL East not play any real role in the regular season means that the excuse of wanting to trade him out of the AL doesn't really make any sense. Its a whole 'nother story if you are talking intra-division...
2008-01-30 09:53:34
20.   seattleyank
If you believe Bob Klapisch, Smith called the Yanks the morning of the trade and asked for an offer built around IPK, Melky and another prospect. I think IPK is going to be good, and am happy we "Saved the Big 3," but keeping Hughes, Joba and adding Santana would have gotten me pretty excited too.
2008-01-30 10:54:46
21.   ms october
12 14 i agree with you - i am just wondering why the twins went with the mets over the rs or yanks packages.

20 interesting, who knows though.

18 me too - seems like it is taking a while to get the terms outlined.

2008-01-30 11:06:38
22.   rsmith51
If it was indeed IPK, Melky and a prospect...

I would have pulled the trigger.

Interesting to see what happens in the negotiation.

2008-01-30 11:13:28
23.   Rob Middletown CT
IPK+Melky+nobody too important (no AJ, Tabata or Horne) and I'd have probably done it too.

Of course, if the Yanks had gone for that, Smith probably would've called the Sox and told them to beat it, which they could've, and then the Mets would've been enticed to give up F. Martinez, and so on and so forth.

2008-01-30 11:30:16
24.   Andre
Might the Twins just have pushed the Yanks/Sox harder because they really didn't want Santana in the AL? They wanted to look good for their fans (get the best the Yanks or Sox have to offer, if that's where he's going). If he goes to the Mets, they can take a bit less because Santana won't have much chance to hurt them later.
2008-01-30 11:31:09
25.   JL25and3
22 I wonder if the Mets will get Santana for 10% off Yankee price, because they really have to sign him. That's OK, because his marginal value is also much, much higher for the Mets than for the Yankees or Red Sox.

Santana would make either the Yanks or Sox much better, but they both have playoff-caliber teams without him. Both can afford to pass on him, especially if the rival team doesn't get him.

But Santana completely transforms the Mets. Without him, they're iffy (a rotation led by John Maine and Oliver Perez? Yikes!) With him, they look like the best team in the NL. It would be utter foolishness to let mere money stand in the way of that.

2008-01-30 11:33:30
26.   JL25and3
24 Nah, I think they just screwed up. Remember, the Twins were supposedly asking for Reyes before.

They just misread the situation. They figured the price would only go up, and they were incredibly wrong.

2008-01-30 11:38:48
27.   Rob Middletown CT
I think they really counted on the Yankees being stupid/panicky, and (despite Hank's deep and abiding need to hear himself talk) they were not.
2008-01-30 11:43:20
28.   standuptriple
21 I have heard that the PA wants him to get the biggest deal in history. Limiting the negotiations to one team won't do that and I believe will make the deal extremely hard to complete. I do think it will get done though, even if it will be the 11th hour.
27 Hear, hear.
I think they really did not want to see him make any AL team stronger and it cost them. The Twins do have a track record of doing well with other teams prospects though.
2008-01-30 11:51:36
29.   seattleyank
Jim Callis is chatting on ESPN right now and he seems to think the Yanks could have gotten Santana for IPK, Melky and someone like Marquez. He also thinks the Orioles are going to get a better return for Brian Roberts than the Twinkies did for Johan. Yikes.
2008-01-30 12:06:37
30.   ms october
28 yeah - kept hearing they pa would have preferred he go fa, to set the standard higher than zito.
even though it is one team it would seem the mets have to almost give him what he wants.

29 even though the twins got fleeced, the orioles don't even know how to trade a bag of balls appropriately, so i would be surprised if they get "fair value" for roberts. look at the whole bedard affair - what is even going on there?

2008-01-30 12:13:52
31.   seattleyank
Yeah, for as meddlesome as the Steinbrenners are (George, now Hank), being in the Yankee front office has still got to be way easier than working for Angelos.
2008-01-30 12:54:20
32.   Yankee Fan In Boston
30 according to, there are whispers that the big prospect coming over in that deal might have a major health issue, but nothing of substance has surfaced to back that up.

2008-01-30 13:18:46
33.   Shaun P
32 Or maybe Bavasi woke up and realized in Jones alone he was giving up more for Bedard (who isn't as good as Santana) than the Mets gave up for Santana.

I imagine this is what many Seattle fans are hoping at least.

27 Three cheers for Hal!

2008-01-30 16:17:37
34.   wsporter
33 MFD, Three cheers for us all the way around I think. If the Twins really wanted to trade him I can't believe they waited till now. I honestly thought they were fishing to see if either we or the Sawx would eventually panic and give them market value. How could they think their leverage would increase in this situation on a straight deal as they got closer to Santana's deadline? I think you're right, they did mismanage this. December was the time to move from the Twins POV once Santana said he wouldn't waive his no trade after February. This looks like very sloppy work on their part.
2008-01-30 18:40:57
35.   Yu-Hsing Chen
10 I don't think that's completly right, for one, if Santana reaches FA he gives you a first round pick and a sandwitch pick. the first round one is a maybe (must be from unprotected teams ) and if they do get it it would be a late one. not to meantion with the Twin's conservative signing they'd be pretty hard pressed to make good out of the draft picks anyway. they've been known to go for signability over talent quiet a few times in the recent years (of course quiet often they came out laughing. .. like Joe Mauer over Mark Prior )

Also, if a guy is without question AND high projection. he's not likely to be traded. Hughes / Joba / Buchholz are exactly that. Joba / Buchholz were essentially untouched for the entire talk and Hughes was a massive struggle. let alone guys thats completely paned out like Reyes and Cano, I have doubts that the Mets / Yanks woulda traded them one on one for Johan. money does matter. for the money difference you could get another big FA or two.

2008-01-31 05:51:16
36.   williamnyy23
35 By trading Santana, the Twins are removing $13mn from their payroll (without adding any back). They are moving into a new public funded stadium in 2009. If, in spite of these conditions, the Twins still would bypass talent in favor of signability, well, like I said, they deserve their fate. In the last few drafts, high level talent has fallen considerably in the draft, so even a later 1st round pick could yield a player closer to Hughes than either of the Mets prospects.

I am not sure what your point about Reyes/Cano/Joba was, so I can't speak to that.

Finally, you can't dismiss that the Twins are also losing one season of Santana in this deal. Now, if you think the Twins had no chance anyway, then it's not a big deal. I, however, think that the Twins would have had a reasonable chance to win the Central had they kept Santana. I could seeing forgoing that if the deal netted prime prospects, but if all you are going to do is amass mid-level prospects, I'd rather take a chance at winning (that is the point after all, isn't it)?

2008-02-01 09:48:11
37.   Raf
25 You forgot about Pedro... Santana - Pedro - Perez - Maine - Duque

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