January 30, 2008

I want to be apart of it...

New York, New York...

As I know you've heard, the Twins have decided to trade Johan Santana to the Mets. Unless the Mets cannot agree to a contract to sign Santana, this thing is done. In return, the Twins will reportedly get 4 prospects who many have mixed feelings for. Those players are outfielder Carlos Gomez, and pitchers Deolis Guerra, Phil Humber, and Kevin Mulvey. Gomez and Guerra are the key players in the package, however Guerra is a few years away and Gomez is unlikely to contribute a lot this season although he likely we be the Twins starting center fielder come opening day.

I really don't know how I feel about this trade. My gut reaction is "DAMN YOU BILL SMITH!", but you can't just blame Smith on this issue. He did what we had to do, trade him. I more so blame Jim Pohlad (owner Carl Pohlad's son) for not re-signing Santana. Jim Pohlad is the equivalent to New York's Hank Steinbrenner in that he's not the official owner, however he mainly runs the team. Pohlad could've worked something out. We just re-sign Justin Morneau & Michael Cuddyer to long-term deals. As much as I love both of them, how can you let the best pitcher in the league leave, while you concentrated on signing two average-above average players at their respected positions? Especially when those positions can be filled much better than a #1 pitcher. Really, I put more blame on Pohlad. He did offer him a 4-year $80 million deal, however he wanted a 6-year deal. I really think a 5-year deal worth $105-110 and possible options for years 6 and 7 would've been enough. But we may never know.

The Twins fielded offers from the three teams in the "hunt" for Santana, which includes the Yankees, Red Sox and of course the Mets. The Yankees supposedly dropped out of the competition, the Red Sox reportedly offered the same two packages that have been rumored for about the last two months, and the Twins accepted a Mets offer which was also offered about a month ago. Personally, out of all the reported offers, I preferred the Jacoby Ellsbury package by the Red Sox.

This trade definitely focuses on the future and that's really always been the Twins philosophy. The Twins aren't looking at competing this season, especially as the rest of the AL (specifically the AL Central) have improved immensely. Instead, the Twins will now choose to focus on competing in a year or two as the team prepares to open the new stadium. Sure this kind of move is extremely risky as the Twins are both risking that none of these players turn out, and not putting enough people in the seats leading up to the opening of the new stadium and that is not what the team wanted, I'm sure. But really, the team had nothing else they could've done but trade him if they weren't going to re-sign him. Letting him walk after the season and letting him sign with a team of his choice and receiving two draft picks would've been much worse than getting a few high-potential prospects for him and letting him switch to the National League.

Now, I will admit that I'm shocked the Twins couldn't get the Mets to include top prospect Fernando Martinez, especially since the Red Sox were offering arguably their top prospect in Ellsbury, who's hands down a better player than Gomez as of right now. Guerra and Jed Lowrie (who was another rumored player in one of the Red Sox packages) would essentially cancel each other out as both are highly regarded prospects. I just don't understand how two back-end starting pitchers would've been able to make the Twins choose the Mets deal over the Red Sox. And don't forget, there was another one (possibly two) player(s) that was reportedly being offered along with Ellsbury and Lowrie and it was rumored to be another highly-regarded prospect by the name of Justin Masterson. I really think that moving Santana to the National League had enough value in itself to make the Twins choose a Mets package, I really do. I don't blame the Mets for not including Martinez, actually I applaud them, but from the Twins standpoint, I just don't see how they couldn't have snatched another player in the deal such as Ryan Church, Joe Smith, or Aaron Heilman. If Mets GM Omar Minaya allowed one of those players to stand in the way of a deal, I think that he would've been scrutinized in New York by the media and fans to such a point, that he probably would've been done as GM after the season if it didn't result in a big October.

I can't even begin to speculate who won this trade. Obviously right now, it looks like the Twins were robbed, but that will remain to be seen. The Mets after trading away 4 of their top 5 prospects will now have to turn around and sign Santana to a record-setting contract worth somewhere between $20 and $25 million annually. That's a big risk regardless of the pitcher.

I do have to say that I am truly relieved that this thing is all over (hopefully) and that it's going to be nice to finally move on with the rest of the off-season and try to get ready for the 2008 season. The Twins have a lot of young players to be excited about. Gomez, as well as Delmon Young and the return of Francisco Liriano are all reasons to be optimistic about this teams future. However I'm sure I'm probably the only person on earth who's actually still at all optimistic about this team as we've lost our top 3 starting pitchers and arguably our best offensive producer the team has.

Call me crazy, but I do see grass greener on the other side. It's going to be a long and ugly process to see this team back in contention, but I truly see this thing working out in the end.