|Mets Rob Twins, Santana||| Print ||
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on February 08, 2008
Mets general manager Omar Minaya recently made a great trade in acquiring starting pitcher Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins. On the flip side, Twins general manager Bill Smith and Santana’s agent, Peter Greenberg, made fools of themselves.
That the Mets needed to strengthen their starting rotation was painfully obvious. They blew a seven game lead with 17 games remaining in the season last year. That was the biggest division lead blown that late in the season. This come-from-ahead loss was capped with Tom Glavine’s allowing seven runs in only one-third of an inning against the lowly Florida Marlins on the last day of the season.
So, the Mets acquired the best pitcher in the major leagues. All it cost them was an assortment of mediocre prospects: outfielder Carlos Gomez, along with pitchers Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.
Gomez has plenty of speed, but not much power to go with it. Humber’s ceiling is likely that of only a number five starter, while Mulvey has just average stuff. The only saving grace is Guerra, but at the age of 19, success is anything but guaranteed, especially if the shoulder tendonitis crops up again.
In return for this weak package, the Mets are receiving the best pitcher in the major leagues. Santana has won two Cy Young Awards -- it would have been three had the voting committee not been so obsessed with pitcher wins -- and has struck out over a hitter per inning throughout his career.
There are some knocks against Santana, however. He declined greatly in 2007, allowing 33 home runs, which led the American League. Santana, who has been afflicted with bone chips in his elbow throughout his career, began throwing his slider less in September, which led to a 5.11 ERA over his last seven starts last season.
If healthy, however, there is no reason to expect Santana will not continue his Hall of Fame career in the making. And that is good, considering Santana may have been the biggest loser in this deal.
Greenberg relented to the Mets’ demands by signing only a six year, $137.5 million contract. The deal also includes $7 million extra in the 2008 season.
Now, how can anyone say that Santana got a bad deal? His total package broke the largest contract ever given to a pitcher -- the seven year, $126 million given to Barry Zito a year ago now stands second -- and he is now playing for a team with a legitimate chance at playing in the World Series.
Greenberg did not do his job. He should have gone to the bargaining table and say that his client would only sign for seven years, $200 million. No less. The Mets would have had to back down; they so desperately needed an ace pitcher. Their fan base and the New York media would be relentless in their howling if a deal did not get done.
The Mets were in the unenviable position of having to trade for an ace pitcher and giving him a huge contract. Minaya did his job in making that happen; Smith and Greenberg failed to do theirs.
That is why the Mets acquired a superstar pitcher for very little and signed him for a below market contract. And that is why Smith and Greenberg look worse than they did just a few weeks ago.