December 23, 2007

Advantages/Disadvantages to keeping Santana

Hello. Last time I posted, I took an early look at the Twins rotation for the 2008 season. I explained that it's still very unknown whether the Twins will trade or keep Johan Santana. I listed a new option I'd feel comfortable with in return for Santana, which would involve the Yankees parting with Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy for the two-time Cy Young award winner.

Right now, it looks very unlikely for a deal like that to take place, at least anytime in the near future as reports are now swirling that the Yankees are now out of the running. Of course, we have to take that with a grain of salt as it is the Yankees, and it's not like they've never went back on their word.

I've began to think that with the way Bill Smith has stood his ground, given the fact that he's a first-year GM, that there may be something that nobody is thinking about right now. And that's that the Twins could feel that they may still have a chance of re-signing Santana and they just want to see what the market is for him. If that's the case, perhaps Smith has the word from Carl Pohlad that if we can't trade him, that a deal is not out of the question. Of course, I wanted to think that was the same with Torii Hunter earlier this off-season.

But if the Twins keep Santana, what are the advantages of not trading him? Disadvantages? I'll give 3 of both, but feel free to discuss any others that I don't mention.



1. It's a good PR move. The Twins just lost the most marketable player on the team in Torii Hunter and really, with respect to Joe Mauer, Johan Santana is by far our next most marketable player on the team. Can you imagine the public out roar if the Twins lose both Johan Santana and Torii Hunter in the same off-season, even if they're receiving several nice young players in return? It could be a very bad move as the team is set to open the new stadium in just 2 years. The last thing the team wants to do is to lose any part of its fan base before the biggest revenue-earning period in team history.

2. If the Twins don't work out a deal right now, there's always the possibility of working out something later as his current value isn't as good as it should be. Many people look at last seasons "drop off" as a warning sign of a possible decline as he could've been overworked the last few years. I'm not buying it, and I think that he'll have a fine 2008 season and the Twins could maximize his value by keeping him until the July trade deadline and swapping him for a larger package at that point. Though, this move comes with a couple risks of its own. First, what if Santana doesn't "bounce back" and he starts off the season on a bad foot. It could happen. You have to imagine the things he's thinking about right now, as he's unsure of where he'll be playing in less than 100 days (opening day!!!). The teams may also be unwilling to part with any young substantial players as they'd only be getting Santana for a couple months before he'd hit free agency, when they they'd have to pay him somewhere between $20-25 million per season. But then again, a team could see Santana as their last-remaining piece (which I'm sure plenty already do) and could offer their farm system for him and try to win this season and probably be favorites for the next 2-3 years.

3. Our pitching staff will benefit with him at the top, without a doubt. The return of Francisco Liriano has left the team in a little bit of a pickle. Nobody knows what is going to happen with Liriano's future. He could rebound and have a very good, successful season, despite having Tommy John Surgery. He could also flounder and lose face and never return to anything. It's definitely a risky move, and if the team really is looking at the future, having a healthy and effective Liriano at the top of the rotation is going to be a key part to their success for years to come. The team also has a few other unknowns in the rotation with the question of how will Boof Bonser respond to his "new physic" and if he really was just lacking his "second wind" or if it was something else and it just shows that he's not fit to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues. Scott Baker had a good season with the Twins, although he also did in 2005 and in '06, he looked awful. Many want to pencil him in as a sure-thing for next year to be a reliable starter, but to me, he's got some big questions to answer. Kevin Slowey is probably ready to start next year, although he's very inexperienced and will probably have his ups and his downs. Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, Brian Bass, and Glen Perkins are also inexperienced (with only Perkins & Blackburn having any sort of experience at all) and it's not really fair to expect them to start every 5th day.

1. It really doesn't look like the smartest move to pay 1 player, regardless of how good they are, upwards of $20+ million per season, which will likely equate to 1/4 of our entire teams payroll. It's financially irresponsible on the organizations behalf. The team can find fill multiple positions, upgrading what we already have (such as center field, third base, and designated hitter), and we'd be getting probably more contribution to our teams success by doing so. Meaning, it's possible we could win more games by splitting the cost between multiple holes that we have.

2. His "down" year, (which again, I don't buy), may actually be a sign of what's to come. It could just be the beginning of a possible sharp decline in production from his part and it'd be a risky move paying a player, that amount of money while he doesn't earn it. And really, I don't think right now that the money is really what is the issue for the Twins, it's the fact that they aren't comfortable paying a player over a long-term deal. I can see them being fine with paying him even $25 million per season over the next 4-years, but Santana wants a long-term deal somewhere between 5-7 years. And I don't see that changing.

3. The team won't be acquiring any young talent that they can control at a very low price for the next 4-5 years while they progress into young potentially great players. The rumored offers of Jacoby Ellsbury from the Red Sox & Phil Hughes from the Yankees would give the team a very good young player in return in which they'd be able to control them for the next 4-5 years at a very reasonable price. The team could be getting a great young player who could be a potential All-Star and still at the same time add a couple good players with the money they save.

Really. It's very unknown what the Twins will do. Every day it seems like a different story. But for now, nothing looks like it will get done within the next week or two as Major League Baseballs offices are closed from this last Friday through the New Year. So anything that happens, can not be made official for the next week and a half or so.

What other advantages and disadvantages are there that I did not mention? Feel free to discuss them, and I'll probably pop in with some feedback of my own when I get a chance.

And with that, I want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays. I'm not sure how much posting I'll be doing over the next week or so, so until next time. Have a great day.