Johan Santana is coming to New York, but he will not call the Bronx home. The two-time Cy Young winner is heading to the Mets after Omar Minaya pulled the trigger on a deal sending Carlos Gomez, Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra to Minnesota in return. This brings a the Yankees’ long pursuit of the elite lefty to a close. This team still lacks a proven shutdown starter at the top of the rotation. It is time to take a look at how all relevant parties fared in this deal.
Johan Santana: The lefty is going to get the big contract he covets, play in the world’s biggest media market, and go to the weaker hitting league.
New York Mets: The Mets somehow landed the game’s best pitcher without giving up their top hitting prospect, Fernando Martinez, or their top pitching prospect, Mike Pelfrey. They gained the dominant ace they had lacked and added an anchor to a thin pitching staff. This move is the big splash that will finally allow the fans and media to start looking forward and forget their dramatic 2007 collapse. In one move, Omar Minaya has made the Mets the team to beat in the National League in 2008.
Boston Red Sox: They would have loved a Beckett-Santana combination to top their rotation, but their starting pitching looks great as currently constructed. They did not need Santana. Their only concern was the Yankees using him to counter Beckett. Now the Yankees did not get Santana, and they get to hold onto their prized prospects.
Yankees Fans: Fans of the Yankees have grown tired with the marquee acquisitions. Over the past three years, it has been deeply satisfying for them to watch their young, homegrown stars develop. Now they will get to see Phil Hughes turn into one of the game’s top pitchers instead of buying up an established star who made the leap years ago.
Bill Smith: The Minnesota general manager has to top this list. He could have had the game’s next great young pitcher in Phil Hughes to pair with Francisco Liriano for the next five years at the top of his rotation. He also could have had an adequate young centerfielder in Melky Cabrera to compensate for the loss of Torii Hunter. He could have replaced Hunter with Jacoby Ellsbury, a future All-Star in centerfield, or received a future 2 or 3 starter who has won a World Series clincher in Jon Lester. He could have topped off a deal with the Red Sox by acquiring an above average shortstop prospect in Jed Lowrie. Instead, Smith ended up with a couple of middle of the rotation starters, a project pitcher, and an overrated centerfielder prospect with great speed but no power or discipline at the plate. Smith deserves to be tarred and feathered by his fanbase. This was awful evaluation. He picked the worst package.
Hank Steinbrenner: Hank lost out on the pitcher he coveted. He has nobody but himself to blame. His pompous negotiations and through the media, unprofessional public complaints about the Twins’ front office, and setting of fake deadlines helped to torpedo any chance the Yankees and the Twins could sit down and amicably negotiate a way to get Santana to the Bronx.
New York Yankees: The Yankees still do not have a shutdown starter at the top of their rotation. It would have been foolish to trade a future ace like Phil Hughes for a guy that much older and more expensive. It still made no sense as to why the Yanks were willing to give up Hughes but not make Robinson Cano the centerpiece instead. Cano has firmly established himself as an elite second baseman at a young age. The hitting challenged Twins gladly would have listened had the Yanks put Robbie in the package in place of Phil. Cano is a terrific hitter, but the Yankees have plenty of offense. Giving him up for a shutdown starter should have at least been considered. Their refusal to do so might have cost them Santana. Second basemen are easier to find than pitchers of Santana’s caliber. It is more important to have an ace in October than it is to have a .300 hitter at second base.
Major League Baseball: The fact that the small payroll Twins could not afford to keep a player so important to their franchise speaks volumes about the problems Major League Baseball has. One cannot blame teams like the Mets, Red Sox, and Yankees. They are using a flawed system to their advantage just like any other business would. Baseball needs to get more equitable rules because this is awful for fans of the Twins.