Thoughts on Santana-to-Mets
Don't you find it odd that the Twins, realizing they would be getting 25 cents on the dollar, were still so adamant about dealing Johan before the season began? Why not keep him, see if Liriano regains form following his Tommy John and take your shot in '08? Worst-case scenario, your team doesn't play well and you trade him at the deadline in July to a club desperate for that "final piece of the puzzle"? Makes sense right?
Well, after doing some reading today, it seems this deal may have been on a fast track for a reason. Santana was scouted during the second half of last season by several teams and the reports were a bit scary. Decreased velocity and an unwillingness to throw his slider during the final two months was the word. Does this mean he's hurt? In decline? Or was he simply not sufficiently pumped up pitching for the also-ran Twins? This is an interesting subplot to take note of.
Add to that the fact that he's 29 on Opening Day and commanding a long-term deal at the highest salary EVER for a pitcher, and this is far from a slam dunk for the Mets. That said, this was probably a deal the Mets felt they had to do after the disgraceful end to their '07 season. It makes their team much better on paper, and they didn't give up their two best prospects or Reyes to get it done.
But trading for veteran arms remains a risky proposition. The Yankees made a similar move four winters ago when they acquired a reigning Cy Young Award winner named Randy Johnson. We all know how that turned out. The Mets' gamble is safer than that -- Johan is younger, doesn't have the injury baggage and is coming from the AL to the NL instead of vice versa. But it's still a gamble nonetheless.
It's a great deal if the Mets don't work under any kind of budget in terms of payroll (which they may or may not, I have no clue). But if a deal is deemed too rich by the freaking Yankees, it must be viewed as an ass-load of money by the league in general.
But, again, I agree with the trade for the Mets. They HAD to do something, especially coming off last season's disaster and with a new stadium on the horizon in '09. I'm glad my team -- and the Red Sox -- didn't get him. Hughes is regarded as one of the league's best prospects and Melky is a solid player, especially defensively. Like most Yankees fans, I'm excited to see my farm talent develop. It's how we became a dynasty 10 years ago. If I'm a Mets fan, my only worry is that they're paying Johan for what he did in his past as opposed to what he'll do in the future. Santana will likely be very, very good this season. But how about five seasons from now, when he's 34 with 120,000 miles on his odometer and still costing the team $20 million a year? Was it still a smart move? Maybe, maybe not.
From a purely business standpoint, I don't think the trade makes fiscal sense. But the Mets have the money to make this move, appease their pissed off fans, and get better in the short term. That's the good thing about rooting for a big market team. Having deep pockets is like having a Wolf from "Pulp Fiction." No matter how big the screw up, you can still clean it up without longterm damage.
Whether the Wolf's located in New York, L.A., Boston and Anaheim are good for baseball is an entirely different issue altogether ...