Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Santana Trade Finally Done?

It was recently announced that, pending a physical and a new contract extension, Johan Santana has been traded to the NY Mets for OF Carlos Gomez and P Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.

We all know what the Mets are getting: the best pitcher in baseball. And at age 29, Santana is in the prime of his career while switching to a weaker league and a pitcher's park. Looking at the Mets' rotation, Santana will slot in as the #1 pitcher in front of John Maine, Oliver Perez, and a bunch of question marks. The back of the rotation will be filled by Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, Mike Pelfrey, and perhaps Jason Vargas. Regardless, Santana and Maine will have to carry the bulk of the staff because of the inconsistency of Perez and the injury concerns of Pedro and El Duque.

Clearly, the Mets needed to make this move more than the Yankees or Red Sox. That's why when it came right down to it, the Yankees and Red Sox backed off and the Mets stepped up. The Twins were also more willing to send Santana to the NL rather than strengthening the AL powers.

This process took as long as it did simply because the Twins knew they had to get the best value they could. You're never going to get fair value giving away the game's best pitcher, but the Twins tried to get as close as they could. On the surface, this collection doesn't seem to stack up to the Red Sox and Yankees' previous offers. This makes me wonder how much the Twins needed to see Santana in the NL.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Phil Hughes are far superior talents to Carlos Gomez and Phil Humber. Ellsbury is an on-base machine with developing power, while Gomez has struggled to maintain his plate discipline. With newly-signed boppers like Morneau and Cuddyer in the middle of their order, the Twins would benefit from a CF that can get on base consistently. Plus, Ellsbury and Hughes have already proven themselves to be a bona fide major league starters while Gomez and Humber have struggled in their brief stints in the Show. Humber even had trouble producing in AAA, with a 4.27 ERA and 21 HR allowed in 139 innings.

The other two minor league pitchers that the Twins picked up, Guerra and Mulvey, are still a long way from the majors. Guerra, a big 6'5" righty, spent 2007 in High-A FSL for the St. Lucie Mets. He only allowed a .240 OBA and had a great groundball-flyball ratio, but he surrendered 25 walks in 89 innings leading to a 4.01 ERA. He also had control problems in 2006, walking 43 in 89 innings.

Mulvey, a 2nd round pick in 2006, spent the bulk of '07 in Double A. He kept the ball in the park, giving up just 4 HR. However, he wasn't fooling too many people either, allowing a .252 OBA, and doesn't project as more than a middle of the order starter.

I think the Twins missed on this trade as both the Yankees and Red Sox offers were better.

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