January 18, 2008
Point/Counterpoint: Johan Santana
by: Steve Hubbell and John Peterson on Jan 18, 2008 12:00 AM | Filed under: Articles

Can’t make up your mind about whether acquiring Johan Santana for a quintet of youngsters is a good move for the Mets? Neither can the MetsGeek staff. Writers Steve Hubbell and John Peterson recently had a little back-and-forth on the issue. Maybe their efforts to sway each other’s mind will help settle yours.

Steve Hubbell: “Baseball is the background music of my life,” George F. Will, the conservative columnist, famously mused. These may be the only honest words he ever uttered, but the sentiment behind them is profound. Whenever my own thoughts drift from urgent matters—work, family, politics, Snorg models, etc.—they invariably head toward loftier heights, notably the starting lineup and pitching rotation of the New York Mets.

I’m bracing myself, John, for the fusillade of sophisticated analytical factoids you’re about to launch in my direction, proving that Johan Santana is simply not worth the four or five Met prospects he may fetch. I know you’ll make a convincing case. But consider for a moment some subjective factors that, for me at least, tip the balance in favor of a deal for The Best Pitcher in Baseball (TBPiB).

Start with the sheer beauty of a well-configured starting rotation: intimidating at the top, solid and hearty in the middle, and laden with promise at the bottom, a masterpiece of balance and proportion, age and youth, wisdom and potential. Johan gives us that, and much more to boot. He’s a stopper who keeps everyone else in his place. Without him, what we’ve got is a train wreck preparing to happen. If Pedro goes down on Memorial Day, our “ace” becomes John Maine. Meanwhile, Kyle Lohse slides into the number four spot. A jet-lagged Phil Humber, fresh from engaging the mighty Round Rock Express, makes his 2008 debut and gives up six runs in two innings of work against the Fish. Eck.

Santana forestalls all of that ugliness. And think, John, of the exciting match-ups TBPiB makes possible: Cole Hamels vs. Johan Santana at the Mets home opener on April 8. Carlos Zambrano vs. Santana at Wrigley later that month. Santana/Peavy in June. Santana/Oswalt in August. Smoltz/Santana at Turner the final week of the year. Not all of those pairings will actually happen, of course, but the Wilpons can sell a ridiculous number of advance tickets—and advertising time—on the faint possibility that they might. I can’t tell you how many games I attended as a callow lad in 1969, yearning for a glimpse of Seaver or Koosman and enduring rough outings from Jim McAndrew and Don Cardwell (RIP) instead.

And here’s an argument you weren’t expecting: signing Johan could save the team some serious cash. Not overall, mind you, but in moderate amounts here and there, offsetting some of the cost of that contract. With an ace at the top, there’s no need to hand a multiyear, prospect-clogging deal to a journeyman like Lohse. When Pedro or Duque start feeling their advanced years, a cheap(er) flier on Freddy Garcia or Livan Hernandez will do nicely, thank you. That alone could save $24 million over three years (minus the newcomer’s paycheck, obviously— call it $18 million). And having Pelfrey slot in at #5 in the warmer months would be perfect for his development. That’s right—Johan could inaugurate a youth movement, just as you’d want it to happen: a low-pressure, midyear call-up to a club enjoying a healthy lead in the standings.

And that’s not all. The Mets are going to have to test the free agent pitching market next year anyway. If they try to secure Johan then, his price will have risen significantly. A passel of new bidders will see to that. Twenty percent is a reasonable inflationary projection (it’s been about that for elite pitchers over the past several years). In other words, $100 million today becomes $120 million next year, and so on. So we’ve “saved” something like 38 million bucks by signing him now.

But let’s not argue over money, shall we? Graver matters are at stake.

Such as the fate of Omar Minaya. The unspoken dynamic behind the Johan-a-thon is a dance of death between two rival GMs. Both Minaya and Bill Smith of the Twins fear that if they bungle this deal, they may be out of a job by Thanksgiving. And that should concern us deeply, John. A second-place, non-wildcard finish for the Mets in the National League East almost certainly spells the end of the Minaya era. I have nightmares about the kind of hack the Wilpons would settle on as a replacement. Maybe Jeff himself would like to give it a go.

It would be glorious to watch all of our young talent mature within the organization. But we may not have that luxury. For me, the only move more dangerous than dealing for Johan Santana is letting the opportunity slip by.

John Peterson: Steve, I won’t waste your time and energy with boring statistics, economic valuations and performance projections. I’m also too lazy and stupid to be able to do those things gracefully.

But subjective factors? Those I understand. Consider for yourself that Pedro Martinez, while old, is also one of best pitchers in baseball—ever—and he’s not exactly done. Is that not enough for you? I don’t want Santana coming in and being the big man. I want Pedro, El Duque, and the young ‘uns. You want to upset that delicate symmetry by trading everyone desirable for “The Best Pitcher in Baseball.” That’s just greedy.

Also consider that the Mets are competing for the right to be the team that gives out the largest contract ever bestowed upon a pitcher—ever. You write that if we secure him now, his price will be lower. I don’t think so. His price will be monstrous, as much as $25 million per year. For the right to be the team that pays this incredible sum, you want the Mets to hand out several of their absolute best prospects.

Three of those proposed prospects are pitchers: Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey and Philip Humber. Yet you make the claim that “signing Johan could save the team some serious cash.” You’re right: I wasn’t expecting that argument, because it’s the complete opposite of the truth.

“With an ace at the top, there’s no need to hand out a multiyear, prospect-clogging deal to a journeyman like Lohse.” Prospect-clogging? What prospects? Furthermore, whom do you expect to take the places of Pedro and El Duque in future years? What if the Mets can’t resign Oliver Perez? By trading Guerra, Mulvey, and Humber, the organization will basically strip itself of every cheap, young starter with enough talent to grace the Mets’ rotation. Which means free agent starters at free agent prices.

No, Johan will not “inaugurate a youth movement.” He will make the Mets’ system weaker, which will exacerbate the organization’s contempt for young, cheap players, which will make the system weaker still, and so on. Watching “young talent mature within the organization” is not a “luxury;” it is a stark necessity.

The most glaring omission from all of these Santana discussions is an understanding of the incredible value of youth. Currently, baseball teams pay, on average, more than $4 million per marginal win (above replacement) for free agents. Think about how much more value-per-win the average player making the major league minimum (or slightly more) provides, and not just for one year, but for three years. After that, the young player enters arbitration-eligibility and provides three more years, still at considerably less-than-market value.

The Mets should not lightly cast off 24 below-market years for one single below-market year of Santana.

Yes, Johan Santana is very, very good, and he would make the Mets a better team. It’s also possible that at the extreme high-end of the market it is possible to sign a pitcher to a below-market contract. After all, no pitcher currently makes as much as $20 million per year. But we cannot just ignore the huge economic hit the Mets would take to get Santana on the roster for 2008.

Look at the other two teams bidding for his services. Both have massive payrolls, but still they understand the incredible benefit of having good young players under team control. It has been my suspicion for some time that neither team wants TBPiB; they just want the other team to bid too much. The Mets making the deal is a solution that is good for everyone—except the Mets.

Steve Hubbell: You know, John, I’ve always been a firm believer in the karma of baseball. If a team does certain things right, the Gods will reward it with riches beyond measure (usually expressed as Wins above Pythagenpat). Retaining and nurturing the best homegrown talent is one of those karma-friendly practices. And I defer to no man in the enjoyment I derive from watching the products of the Mets scouting and farm system thrive in the big leagues.

But the Diamond Gods don’t necessarily smile upon slavish homerism toward one’s own prospects. They place Opportunity in the path of the discerning GM and expect him to seize it when the time is right. And the time, by all that is Good and Holy, couldn’t be righter. Failure to pull the trigger on Santana-for-prospects, I fear, may doom the Mets to a non-playoff season in 2008 and possibly in 2009, as well.

Now, before you hurl your mousepad, John, let me grant that if the Mets luck out on the injury front, if they tap into hitherto undetected reserves of character and motivation, they may well make it to the playoffs without Johan. But with a fanbase that will treat every loss as a micro-armageddon, they’re in for a hair-raising ride, and so are we. After last season, I just don’t know if I can take it.

Here’s where we part company. Prospects offer two different kinds of value to a team: as future players and as a trading currency in the here and now. But those considerations are inseparable from one another. A player’s trade value rises and falls with his performance on minor- league fields and the likelihood of injury, factors that also determine his worth to his own team.

You argue that our package would offer “24 below-market years” for the Twins. That projection is literally insane, but I’ll let it pass for now. The promise of cheap production was no “glaring omission” from my calculations, it was implicit in them; it’s precisely why the Twins are considering our offer in the first place.

So what is the approximate value of the players currently on offer? Future performance is even harder to gauge than voter preferences in Nashua, Keene and Manchester. One thing we do know: surefire prospects have an annoying habit of misfiring. Ian Bladergroen, anyone? His departure in January of 2005 for Doug Mientkiewicz occasioned widespread lamentation and rending of garments. As did the exodus of Justin Huber, Matt Peterson, Gaby Hernandez and Yusmeiro Petit, and all those transactions turned out just fine for the Mets.

It’s quite possible that Kevin Mulvey and/or Deolis Guerra will never make a Major League start. Carlos Gomez may never advance beyond Endy Chavez. Phil Humber could settle in as an adequate number four. It’s also possible than one or another is destined for stardom. We just can’t say. But Johan is Johan.

What you’re forgetting, John, is that above all else, baseball is a spectacle. PT Barnum didn’t make a fortune by offering customers the ninth-largest elephant in the world, or several of central Connecticut’s more daring trapeze artists, or a troupe of promising young bearded ladies. No, he went for the biggest, the best, the baddest. He had impeccable judgment—and timing. A chance like Johan comes around once a generation. By all means, let’s hold onto our homegrown guys once the deal is done. But trust me, John: this is one trade the Baseball Gods will make sure we never regret.

John Peterson: Ah, that old canard: most prospects never amount to anything. But the big leagues keep on rolling somehow, nevertheless. Derogating any and all prospects by pointing to ones who didn’t work out is just pointless. Not that you did that, exactly, since Gaby Hernandez and Yusmeiro Petit are still legitimate prospects, and Justin Huber and Matt Peterson are still young and could still contribute significantly in the major leagues. I guess in New York, if they’re not a superstar right now, they’re nobody. A “fanbase that will treat every loss as a micro-armageddon”—there’s the rub. We have no patience. The city, the media, the fans, we all cry out, “Go get the best pitcher in baseball, no matter what the cost!”

What happens when the Mets don’t make the playoffs? That one, single, solitary below-market year of Santana will evaporate like so many drops of desert water. And the Twins will work on those 24 possible below-market years slowly and patiently. Philip Humber may only be a number four starter, right? Carlos Silva just signed a four-year, $48 million contract. That’s how much fourth starters cost on the open market. If Humber is even that good, the Twins will profit greatly. But he’s the least impressive prospect in the bunch.

Kevin Mulvey is likely to be a number three starter, and could be even better. Six more years there. The Mets are going to need some starters soon to fill the holes left by Pedro and El Duque, but with Mulvey gone the best option will be free agency. That’s more money. Deolis Guerra? He’s the best pitching prospect the Mets have. He could flame out, but he could be an ace as well. But hell, lets give up six more pre-free agency years for the privilege of adding The Best Pitcher in Baseball to The Baseball Circus, the New York Mess. The Show Must Go On, right?

Finally, as if three good young pitchers weren’t enough, let’s include our absolute top prospect, Fernando Martinez, a guy who held his own in AA as an 18-year old. But let’s not be slavish homers to our own prospects, right? Let’s allow other teams the huge economic benefit of having young players at far below the free market cost. Let’s allow them to develop the players, and we’ll just pay whatever price is necessary to sign them if they become stars.

This cavalier approach doesn’t bother me when it comes from the fans, who generally think about roster management like plug-and-play Lego pieces with no regard for contract status. But this has seemingly been the strategy of the New York Mets’ front office for years. I am not cool with that.

26 Responses to “Point/Counterpoint: Johan Santana”

  1. Comment posted by rye jones on January 18, 2008 at 1:59 am (#591814)

    What I’d give for a thread from before the Piazza trade.

  2. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on January 18, 2008 at 3:47 am (#591816)

    Great debate, but I have to go with Steve. I don´t care how many below market years the Twins get. The Mets play in NY and have huge revenue streams. I don´t want to wait 3 or 4 or 5 years for Guerra, Mulvey, Humber and FMart to settle in at the ML level(if they ever do). I want to take advantage of putting Santana with Pedro, while Wright and Reyes and still getting better. I want Delgado to bounce back and give us a decent year before we go after Teixeira. We have 3 draft picks in the first round–we should draft starting pitchers or top position players who drop due to signability and look to them for the future. If one of our trading chips develops into a star for the Twins, good for them. We´ll have Santana, TBPiB.
    I´ve been a fan of the Mets for 39 years. I loved watching Seaver, Koosman, and Matlack at the top of the rotation in the early 70s. I loved watching Gooden, Darling, El Sid, and Ojeda in the 80s. I´m tired of finishing 2nd and waiting for next year. Get Santana now, and make new plans for how to deal with the future.

  3. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on January 18, 2008 at 4:05 am (#591817)

    Another thought: exactly how many of these prospect pitchers are we going to use, and when? Does anyone seriously think the team would go with a 2009 rotation of Maine, Ollie (if he re-signs), Pelfrey, Humber, and Mulvey? Or, God forbid, Maine, Pelfrey, Humber, Mulvey, and Guerra??
    I think omar and the wilpons will re-sign Pedro for another 2 years– the marketing appeal in the new ballpark will be priceless. I think they´ll also re-sign Ollie, though the price will be steep. I would love an 09 and ´10 rotation of Santana, Pedro, Maine, Ollie, and Pelfrey. If Ollie doesn´t re-sign, then we either go after a FA or have a Freddy Garcia waiting in the wings. And after 2010, Jonathan Niese, another lefty, will likely be ready for the #5 slot. Or the Mets will move Rustich to the rotation, as has been rumored. Or Vineyard will be almost ready. Or a 2008 college-age draftee will be ready. Worrying about who might be ready in 2011 is a crapshoot.

  4. Comment posted by JamesSC on January 18, 2008 at 8:41 am (#591821)

    This cavalier approach doesn’t bother me when it comes from the fans, who generally think about roster management like plug-and-play Lego pieces with no regard for contract status. But this has seemingly been the strategy of the New York Mets’ front office for years. I am not cool with that.

    John, do you really feel like that is how Omar has treated this team. Sure he has made a couple deals we regret, but outside of the Milledge trade, I just have not seen this mentality from the Mets since he has been here. I tend to both agree and disagree with you, I won’t throw “anything” at the Twins to make this deal happen, but I am certainly willing to pay a premium to get Santana (assuming he gets signed as well). I just find it very hard to imagine me getting TOO upset with any deal Omar would be able to pull out that ends up with Santana as a Met.

    But I do think there is one other rub, if Santana doesn’t go to the Mets, then Omar has to hope he stays a Twin. Unless the trade is viewed as inevitable for the “winning” team, it will be hard for Omar to live down not coming up with the trade.

  5. Comment posted by elliot on January 18, 2008 at 8:45 am (#591822)

    When considering the merit of the proposed trade of four or five of the Mets best prospects for Johan Santana, the underlying assumption is that Santana will continue to be a great pitcher (TBPiB). This is not a given, however.

    Santana is 28 years old. I took a look back through the Cy Young award winners to find a comparable pitcher – someone who won the Cy Young before age 28. I wanted to see what they did with the rest of their career. Looking through this list, I came across the NL Cy Young award winner for 1990 – one Douglas Drabek. The 1990 season was Drabek’s fifth full season. He was 22-6 (for the Pirates) with a 2.76 ERA. Unfortunately for him and for the Pirates, after that season, he was a mediocre pitcher. He lasted 8 more years, winning 86 and losing 89. Never again did he regain the form that he had up until that point in his career.

    Know who won the Cy for the American League in 1996? Pat Hentgen. He was 20-10 that year. Like Drabek, Hentgen’s career lasted another 8 years. Like Drabek, Hentgen was 27 years old. He was 64-69 after winning the Cy.

    Of course, there are pitchers who continue on and have great careers. Greg Maddux, for example, won his first Cy Young at age 26, and went on to win the next 3 and to have a stellar HOF career. But continued dominance for a pitcher is never guaranteed.

    Ask yourselves this: what would happen if the Mets traded all of their good prospects, and ended up with an expensive long-term contract for a pitcher who was no longer dominant? Potentially, this could sink the Mets.

  6. Comment posted by sheadenizen on January 18, 2008 at 8:58 am (#591824)

    Ask yourselves this: what would happen if the Mets traded all of their good prospects, and ended up with an expensive long-term contract for a pitcher who was no longer dominant? Potentially, this could sink the Mets.

    Ask yourselves this: what would happen if none of those “good” prospects ever panned out and you didn’t make the trade?

  7. Comment posted by Emad Mekhaeil on January 18, 2008 at 9:12 am (#591825)

    Finally, as if three good young pitchers weren’t enough, let’s include our absolute top prospect, Fernando Martinez, a guy who held his own in AA as an 18-year old.

    But Ken Davidoff says his numbers were unimpressive and ‘he clearly needs more time in the minor leagues, unlike the Yankees’ Hughes and Cabrera and Boston’s Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury.’


  8. Comment posted by Eli on January 18, 2008 at 9:24 am (#591831)

    I enjoyed reading this very much and came away feeling that either option is not the end of the world. I remain very much against giving up 4 to 5 of the best prospects when the Mets have so few good prospects on the farm. I don’t see Santana as a guarantee for making the playoffs this year but I do see giving up the best 4-5 prospects as problems down the road. I hope Omar doesn’t get fired only because that would mean that the Mets missed the playoffs. But aside from that, Omar hasn’t impressed me as some great baseball mind. He is impressed with over-the-hill players simply because he was impressed with them five or ten years ago. However, no matter what I feel, I will be very surprised if this trade does not go down. I think that at the very least, if he does not agree to the five mentioned in the papers, he will offer the original four and maybe substitute FMart for Gomez, or maybe add Joe Smith or Anderson H as the fifth. The reason is, if Omar does not make this trade and the Mets don’t make the playoffs, he might get fired. If he makes the trade and they don’t make the playoffs in 08, he does not get fired. After all, he would have done everything he could to make 2008 a winning season.

  9. Comment posted by Matty on January 18, 2008 at 9:55 am (#591857)

    I have no problem giving up 4-5 prospects for Johan, but I hope Omar can pull it off without giving up both Gomez and Martinez. LF is going to be a gaping hole after this season. As it is we’ll need a Delgado replacement. Since the deal would likely push El Duque to the pen and Sanchez is healthy, Heilman is expendable, as is Joe Smith. The bullpen has tremendous depth – Wagner-Heilman-Sanchez-Feliciano-Schoenweis-Sosa-Smith-Wise-Register-Padilla-El Duque?. I’ve never heard of a team that carries 10 or 11 relievers on the roster. With Castillo, Easley and possibly Valentin all resigned, we can also afford to part with Gotay or Anderson Hernandez. I also love that Pelfrey’s name has not been included in most scenarios. I’m with Dave in Spain – Santana, Pedro, Maine, Ollie, and Pelfrey for the next 3 years.

  10. Comment posted by Matty on January 18, 2008 at 10:01 am (#591861)

    We gave up a lot for Gary Carter, but he put us over the top and we won the World Series, so no one questions it. With Wright-Reyes-Beltran in the lineup, Santana and Pedro atop the rotation and Wagner closing, we’d have a team that could vie for the World Series for the next 3 years. If Santana helps us win a world series, noone’s going to give a crap if Carlos Gomez steals 40 bases in Minneapolis.

  11. Comment posted by oldmetfan on January 18, 2008 at 10:52 am (#591899)

    Santana is not necessary, he is a luxuary for this team. Omar has developed a pattern of going after exclusively, and paying out hugh contracts for star players and then back filling with cheap, replacement level guys. The flaw is that if a star get injured the team is in trouble. Getting a guy like Matt Garza early on would have significantly upgraded the staff for years to come and still left viable replacements if needed. Instead of going for four #2 or #3 type pitchers in the rotation (Pedro, Maine, Perez, Garza) and a useful farm system he is going for a #1 and three #2/#3 guys and no help from the farm system the next two to three years. Its a high risk move that was unnecessary given the strength of the Mets offense and bullpen (which I view as a strength based on Sanchez pitching well, Wise being a good add, and Mota being taken from Willie). The better long term and short term move would have been to give up two of the four guys for Garza (or looking to acquire a similar #2/#3 pitcher) and using the extra cash to sign Texeria in 2009. Omar went for the big splash instead of the smart long term play. No big surprise. Not to mention that some young #2 pitcher grow into Eric Bedard types. Omar is better than the previous two GMs but he is nothing more than a replacement level GM. Even in Montreal he had a tendancy to go for the big name at the exspense of the future. In addition, the strategy he has pursued is allowing the Twins to hold the Mets hostage waiting for a Santana decision. What starter will be left two weeks from now? The Twins waiting will force the Mets to choose between adding no pitching worth having (almost there now) or forking over F. Martinez also. Not getting Santana may be a win win proposition at this point. If the Mets make the playoffs without him in 2008 they only get better as the young guy contribute. Plus they have money to sign Texeria in 2009. If they don’t Omar is gone and maybe Cashman or better GM takes a shot at developing a functional organization. And no, I am not a Yankee hack. I’ve been a Mets fan for over 30 years and Cashman has done a fantastic job rebuilding the Yankees farm system.

  12. Comment posted by Joe A. on January 18, 2008 at 11:26 am (#591940)

    Gotta say, I disagree with just about everything you wrote Oldmetsfan. I especially don’t understand the part about not going after superstars and then signing Texeira next year. He’s going to get just about as much money as Santana.

    Omar has developed a pattern of going after exclusively, and paying out hugh contracts for star players and then back filling with cheap, replacement level guys.

    This part is obviously true, and I think it is absolutely the right approach. This approach brought us Beltran, Pedro and Wagner, and also Maine, Valentin, Feliciano, etc. The huge contracts for the non-superstars are the ones that teams end up regreting and Omar avoids them.

    Garza would have been a nice pick-up, but he is only a prospect. Take a look at his minor league numbers next to Pelfrey’s – they aren’t that different. And we didn’t have a Delmon Young to give up for him either.

  13. Comment posted by davidg on January 18, 2008 at 12:24 pm (#591971)

    When I first thought about the deal of sending 5 of the Mets top minor leaguers for Santana I cringed – there was no way he was worth all of that. Paying Santana the highest contract in baseball (save ARod) AND giving up the farm seemed too high of a price to pay. But then I though about it differently – and now I say do the deal.

    Consider who the Mets are rumored to have on the table for Santana – Guerra, Mulvey, Humber, Gomez, and (if the Twins had their way) Fernando Martinez. All of these players (except Gomez) were obtained fairly recently and are (or should be) at the AA+ level or lower. What if we thought of them all as a commodity (nameless and faceless for the moment). What would we say about them? Their roughly a 2 year old asset that cost us about $6-7mm to acquire. Think about that. If we could pay Minnesota $6-7mm to sign Santana for a market value contract, wouldn’t we do it in a second?

    So why don’t we think about it that way. Some would say that growing your own talent is absolutely the best way to ensure you can continue to compete at a high level over the long term. And those people are right. But the Mets are in their current state because of terrible moves that Omar made with the pitching staff over the last year – and the team is now caught with a group of starters (and relievers for that manner) that do not project well going into the season – and there is no free agent (a la Dice K) waiting in the wings for the highest bidder. The team needs a high quality starter to give itself the best chance of winning its division – otherwise it’s a crap shoot. The Mets have a real need – whereas the Yankees and the Red Sox do not. They have championship caliber teams. Each just doesn’t want the other to end up with another all star – so they’re considering dealing some prized prospects to stop their competitor. But they can draw a line and won’t get into a bidding war. Without Johan, Boston and the Yankees will be in the playoffs. The Mets may or may not be.

    The Mets need Santana as much as the Twins need to deal him. The Twins have made their price known – now all we have to do is match it or better yet up the ante (say throw in F. Mart and Pelfry or Kunz and have the Twins include Joe Nathan – who is another pitcher we could use who’s on Minnesota’s trading block). And then, just as importantly, we need a plan to restock the youth that we are losing. And that plan is fairly easy to create.

    The Mets have two first round draft picks in this year’s amateur draft and a supplemental first round pick. That’s good for three blue chippers right there. Then the Mets (for once in their lives – like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and others) could not follow the ridiculous MLB guidelines for slot money and go after some better players in later rounds. Also, the Mets could look to the non-draft eligible foreign players. That’s where they got F Mart and Guerra two years ago. The best players in that market are usually $1-1.5mm.

    So for about $10mm, the Mets could bring in 8 prospects – assuming only 75% actually make it. Those “6” players would make up for the loot we lost to get Santana and Nathan – I might be dreaming too much about Nathan, but hey it’s my fantasy). If Santana is signed for $140mm over 7 years, the $10mm + the $6.5mm in current prospects adds only about $2mm/yr to the deal – so in the end, it’s $22mm/yr instead of $20mm/yr – that’s a rounding error. And assuming the Mets have the same success in drafting and signing top young players that they’ve had in the past, they’ll be right where they are today in two years.

    The only down side is that for the next two years, they won’t have many other trading chips in their farm system. But I think that’s a risk worth taking to get arguably the best starting pitcher and one of the best relievers on the market. If the Mets are really in need of MLB talent over the next two years, they would just have to be more aggressive in the free agent market to fill holes.

    So let’s do it – Omar, make the trade!

  14. Comment posted by Wdwrkr35 on January 18, 2008 at 12:26 pm (#591972)

    After that 17K game last year Santana turned to crap. Save the prospects and pass on the overused Santana.

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  16. Comment posted by MetsFanSince71 on January 18, 2008 at 12:32 pm (#591979)

    The Mets play in NY and have huge revenue streams. I don´t want to wait 3 or 4 or 5 years for Guerra, Mulvey, Humber and FMart to settle in at the ML level(if they ever do). I want to take advantage of putting Santana with Pedro, while Wright and Reyes and still getting better.

    You summed up my feelings perfectly, Dave in Spain. The Mets are thisclose to getting right back into contention and Johan gives them an immediate shot in the arm for 2008 and well beyond. IMHO, he’d have the same positive effect that Pedro had when he arrived here. All around, Santana is well-worth the gamble.

    I COMPLETELY disagree that a rotation headed up by Pedro and El Duque will be enough to contend simply because BOTH will more than likely continue to be injury risks the remainder of their careers.

    Johan Santana on the Mets is a no-brainer for me. That said, I am hoping that some way we can hold FMart or Gomez and not include both in the trade. But, if both do need to go, I still do the trade.

    Also, the notion that the Mets would be “greedy” by getting Santana makes no sense to me whatsoever. Simply put, we don’t have a solid rotation, so how is adding the TBPiB being greedy?

  17. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on January 18, 2008 at 1:45 pm (#592063)

    I think that another way to look at prospect need is the following: barring injury, what positions will we need to fill in the next 3 years? We´re set at 3B,SS,CF with players who are top-notch. We have contractual control for 3 years at 2B, C, and RF with players who are decent but could be improved upon; we´re not talking about trading 2B or C prospects though. We will have an opening at 1B, but none of our 1B prospects are being talked about in the Santana deal. That leaves LF and pitching. If we can keep Gomez or FMart that takes care of LF (hopefully). If we re-sign Pedro and Ollie and team them with Santana, Maine, and Pelfrey we´re set in the starting rotation. Where is our desperate need for young prospects to fill holes? OK, we have some injury exposure, but what team doesn´t? A decent draft this year could net us players who will be ready to contribute at the ML level in 3-4 years. And we do have some younger players in our system that could develop into legitimate contributors at the ML level.

  18. Comment posted by Nj is Monty Hall on January 18, 2008 at 1:49 pm (#592067)

    I am with you Shea……….
    How bout The Mets take some chances and try to WIN??
    There is no excuse. They now have the money. They are just too cheap and too dumb to roll the dice.
    I hope I am wrong but as it looks……

  19. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on January 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm (#592199)

    Ask yourselves this: what would happen if none of those “good” prospects ever panned out and you didn’t make the trade?

    Thank you, Shea!

  20. Comment posted by javaslinger on January 18, 2008 at 5:42 pm (#592583)

    The problem is that the option to not getting Santana is absolutely NOT the simple retention of 5 prospects who will patiently develop over time.

    The realistic alternative is instead that the team will perform poorly at some point and we will waste those same five prospects in knee jerk panic trades for absolute crap in an effort to staunch the bleeding.


  21. Gravatar
  22. Comment posted by John Peterson on January 18, 2008 at 6:08 pm (#592590)

    Good point, Javaslinger.
    via Metsblog:

    Matthew Cerrone…

    If you were a Mets fan, knowing what you know of Santana, and knowing he wants a seven-year deal, and knowing what you know of the the Mets prospects, would you pull the trigger on that deal?

    Aaron Gleeman…

    It’s a little tough for me to do, because it’s such an opposite situation from a Twins perspective. We never think like that. You have to always be planning, who is our best prospect at Low Single-A and how many years of service time do we get out of him before he leaves via free agency. Whereas, I imagine you guys think, as Mets fans, we might as well try to compete and go for a 95–win team every year because we have the resources to do that. They can do it through the draft, and hand out big signings bonuses, or through the International signings, like how you got Martinez to begin with – they can always sort of restock the system if you go for broke on a guy like Santana, which I think makes it a decent trade.

    I don’t understand this. The Red Sox and Yankees are able to try and win 90-95 games every year without ignoring single-A prospects and service time. Why can’t the Mets?

  23. Comment posted by charlie159 on January 19, 2008 at 6:32 pm (#592680)

    and after reading these 20 comments, the winner is….


    The Mets need Santana as much as the Twins need to deal him.

    *Restock with more international signings.

    *Stop slotting in later draft rounds (the Commissioner be damned) and agressively target prospects with signability issues. (Always have Scott Boras on speed dial.)

    *Be creative…be willing to consider taking on another pricey Twins player, especially if he is a contributor like Joe Nathan.

    To paraphrase Bill Parcells, Fernando Martinez has not been elected to Cooperstown just yet.

    The Wilpons can’t forfeit the back pages to the Yanks…SNY revenue is waiting to be tapped…the pricey Sterling and Empire suites at Citifield have to be moved.

    Another disappointing season will cost far more than Santana money.

  24. Comment posted by JamesSC on January 21, 2008 at 9:58 am (#593166)

    I think that link hits the nail on the head as to why the Mets can afford to make this deal and why they make the most sense. The question is whether or not the Yankees will be willing to overpay in order to prevent us from getting him, but 3 of our top 5 prospects makes sense for us.

  25. Comment posted by JamesSC on January 21, 2008 at 9:59 am (#593167)

    Dang it, didnt get that whole linky thing to work correctly :)

  26. Comment posted by JamesSC on January 21, 2008 at 9:59 am (#593168)

  27. Comment posted by Jordan Fensterman on January 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm (#594883)

    Guerrera, Mulvey and Humber vs. Johan??? Is that even an issue? Johan over the next 5 years will put up far better numbers than the entire group of them…we can sign them or trade for them later if they actually develop into anything.

  28. Comment posted by paumanok on January 29, 2008 at 3:26 pm (#598450)

    I have to agree with Steve. All the good reasons have been mentioned on both sides, and half the fun is crunching the numbers, but when it comes to baseball decisions I always go with my gut, and there is no way this would not be a missed opportunity if the Mets forgo the deal.

    The arguments against a trade and a long-term, very expensive contract are compelling. I mean you are trading your best talent for only the right to sign a player to a huge contract both in length of contract and annual salary. Normally, I would advise against bringing in expensive free agents (let alone trading your best players for the opportunity).

    But this time is different because the Mets are looking to win NOW. Not in 5 years when Fernando Martinez is 23 and starting to show power, not in 3 years when Mulvey or whoever becomes a 3 in a rotation. So even if the Twins win out in the long run, even if those prospects develop into solid, everyday MLBers for the Twins and the Mets lose out on a few “cheap” years of service, that is all insignificant if the Mets can dominate the NL East for the next 4-5 years. With Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Santana and company, that is totally realistic. And that, my friends, is the bottom line.

    This all reminds me of an argument I had with a co-worker last summer over the all-star game. Should Larussa have put in Pujols to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and two outs and the NL trailing by 1? If he would have, and the game went to extra innings, Pujols would have to play the outfield because he was the last man on the bench. My buddy insisted Larussa made the right move even though it backfired on the NL. I made the point that I would rather have my best hitter in that situation because if he gets a hit, the game is over, and if he makes an out, the game is over, and there is no worrying about the top of the 10th. The only way his scenario would play out would be if Pujols had walked in a run and the next hitter made an out so the score would be tied and the game would go into extra innings. Even then, the worst case was sticking Pujols in right field.

    So back to the Mets and how this applies. The Mets, like Larussa should have, must pull the trigger. If they do, and Pujols hits a single, the Mets anchor themselves as a top team in the NL for the next five years, they bid Shea farewell with some final-year playoff memories, and go into Citifield with a very bright future. If Pujols makes an out (analogize: if Santana is not what he was expected, or worse) then my sense would be we rolled the dice at the right time, played our hand the way it should have been played, and at least Pujols isn’t sitting on the bench as the last out is made, unused, and talking trash the next day in the papers.

    After the collapse in 2007, after they raised their prices on us by 20%, after asking the fans to endure the fact – not thought, but FACT – that we cared more than the players about the game, and be made to feel dramatic when Glavine says he was keeping things in perspective when he said he was dissapointed and not devastated, (classy guy but this is showbiz), the Mets need to change gears in a major way to at least give us the satisfaction of being able to stop looking back and start looking forward.

    Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to shut Jimmy Rollins up for the next five years? That by itself is worth $120 million over 5 years to me.