Thursday: Answering some questions

Posted on December 20th, 2007 – 10:44 AM
By La Velle

There’s a good chance I may be unable to post until late today (if at all), so I’ll tee up a few things for you now, based on some responses I’ve read here.

Who’s really interested in Santana?: The way it was laid out to me, there are several teams interested, but the Red Sox and Yankees remain the two main suitors. Other teams will indicate that they might get heavily involved but, as of this writing, have yet to make a strong offer. The Angels, Mariners and Mets all have shown some degree of interest in recent weeks. I hate to write it again, but everything can change with one phone call.

What’s the deal with the Mets? Do they really have a shot? I still hear that, unless the names Wright and Reyes enter the picture (and I doubt they will), the Mets have no shot. The word at the winter meetings was that the Mets kept their name involved for PR purposes. This is an indication that the Twins may not be that fond of some of the Mets prospects.

The Yankees are in…no they’re out….they may be really close to getting Santana…no, now Hank says they’re on the outside: Heh, Hank Steinbrenner has to be a reporter’s dream. I think it’s obvious that Steinbrenner and GM Brian Cashman are sparring over players to offer to the Twins, but you can never count them out because they need Santana more than the Red Sox do and they can pay Santana what he wants. Hank could pop off at any time and say, “Costanza, get in here! Look, this Santana guy is just what we need, JUST WHAT WE NEED! I want him, and I want YOU go to Minneapolis and get him!” 

While we’re at it, why DO the Red Sox want Santana? We already have a good rotation…. This is not about the Red Sox keeping Santana away from the Yankees or making the Yankees drive up the price. I know a few Red Sox people. Boston trains in Fort Myers where the Twins are and I bump into their people all the time.  I met GM Theo Epstein and assistant GM Jed Hoyer at the winter meetings when they were just wandering around the hotel with nothing to do. I’ve had no choice but to talk about, `The Nation.’ The Red Sox want to dominate. They want to build a dynasty in the AL East and keep the Yankees reeling for as many years as they can. A rotation of Josh Beckett, Santana, Dice-K and Schilling with Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz also in play helps them achieve their domination goals. 

Are the Twins really serious about opening the season with Santana in the rotation? I, too, find that hard to believe. Most players who enter their walk year want to keep walking. While Santana’s camp hasn’t come out and said it, there are some rumbling that he won’t waive his no-trade clause during the regular season.

The Twins maintain that they aren’t afraid to open the season with Santana, and they may be willing to call his bluff at trade deadline. That”s a big gamble. They should be looking to get the best deal possible now. If they can get four players in return for Santana, just look at what your getting with the top two players in that deal and hope player Nos. 3 and 4 will be equal to what you’d get in compensation picks. So as long as they are satisfied with the quality up top, they should pull the trigger.

Why can’t the Twins sign Santana? The Twins did offer a four-year, $80 million extension, which shows that, no matter who the pitcher is, they won’t sign someone for five, six, seven years. Many of those deals (Kevin Brown, Mike Hampton, Denny Neagle) end up being wasted money by the time the deal expires. You would think that Santana would be special case but, again, history warns against such a commitment. Just like with Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva, someone will pay Santana much more than the Twins.

If I were a fan, I would not let this organization off the hook because of that. The Twins could have signed a few players a year ago before salaries jumped forward again. Now that Joe Nathan has watched Mariano Rivera sign for $15 million a year at his advanced age, what do you think No. 36 is worth?

Not signing Santana a year ago, when he was asking them to, was a massive mistake. Now new GM Bill Smith is having sleepless nights trying to make a good Santana deal. Ownership needs to be proactive. It’s a $6 billion industry. Everyone is making money, right Carl?

What about Nathan? The Cubs? I still expect the Twins to look to trade Nathan once they move Santana. Just in case Santana does wind up with the Twins in April, you might as well keep the closer and see where the chips fall. If Nathan is put in play, I would expect several teams to jump at him. He’s too good and he’s inexpensive this season. I wrote last week that the Cubs would be interested if Nathan is put on the market. A radio station in Chicago mentioned Carlos Marmol as possible trade bait, someone here immediately threw Felix Pie into the deal. This has been advanced farther it should be. Nathan wasn’t on the trade block, last time I checked.

Ben Revere? Someone threw out this name too. First of all, I believe Revere hasn’t been in the organization long enough to be dealt. Secondly, he’s good. You want to keep Revere. He’s very fast, they think he’ll hit and he may be able to drop a few over the fence. Denard Span is still a good prospect, but there are people in the organization who feel Revere has more upside. Too bad he’ll need several more years before he’s ready.

So….what’s your gut feeling: I still think he’ll end up with the Red Sox, and I don’t mind either package. I will say this: Some Twins people like Coco Crip and feel he can get back to his game if gets out of Boston. I think that’s possible, but Ellsbury could be very good. He had a .389 OBP throughout his minor league career and the Twins have watched him develop while facing their teams in the Gulf Coast League, Eastern League and Internatonal League. They know what they’re getting.

The Yankees have no shot if Hughes (a super stud of a prospect) isn’t in the deal.

Before I’d say yes to Theo, I would call the Angels and Dodgers one last time….


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