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Hughes Untouchable?

Breaking News: Twins Acquire Top Prospect from AL East for Starting Pitcher!

Neither Johan Santana, nor the Yankees were involved, though one might wonder how the mega-deal that sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett among others to the Rays for Delmon Young and others might effect both the trade market for Johan Santana (the Twins are up and outfielder, but down a starting pitchers) and the rapidity of the Rays’ rise in the East now that they have a Big Three in their rotation.

Earlier in the day yesterday, the Pinstriped Bible‘s Steven Goldman and I got to chatting about the viability of including Phil Hughes in a deal for Johan Santana. Steve thinks it’s worth the risk. I’m not so sure. Here’s what we had to say:

Steven Goldman: I was just listening to Jon Heyman on WFAN from yesterday talking about Yankees/Santana. He says the Twins want Hughes/Melky/a couple of other guys who aren’t Chamberlain, Kennedy.
Cliff Corcoran: I dunno if I can do Hughes. I could do Kennedy/Melky plus a couple B-prospects. I don’t think I can do Hughes.
SG: That’s why this is hard, and why the Twins want Hughes rather than Kennedy. Scout-wise, no one is a Kennedy fan. Results wise, we know he looks great.
CC: Melky’s easy though, here, take him.
SG: Agreed on Melky.
SG: Clay Davenport’s peak DT gave me pause. Clay projects Melky at 25 to hit .312/.378/.461.
CC: Yeah, he’s Bernie Williams right now, but will he be Bernie then? I dunno.
CC: Plus Austin Jackson . . .
SG: Well, Jackson may not be a CF.
CC: Kevin Goldstein seems dubious about Melky as a CF, so what’s that really worth until you see him?
SG: Yeah, I know.
SG: I’m dubious about Melky. The arm is great anywhere. The range I think, is not exactly Tris Speaker. It’s better than Damon, certainly.
CC: Damon’s not terrible out there, but it’s all so much better than the fading Bernie, it’s hard for us to judge.
SG: He looked worse than he really was because of the early back problems.
CC: Yeah, and the arm makes you ignore that he actually got to that ball.
SG: True.
CC: In left, it all works out quite nicely. I like that Girardi came out and said Damon’s the LF. That means Melky’s the CF unless he’s traded and they sign Andruw, and Matsui and his ouchie knees DH. It’s the ideal arrangement. I also like that Girardi said all three kids are in the rotation (the Andy-free rotation, that is). That helps with trading leverage as well.
SG: Heyman is talking about David DeJesus -> Yankees, which wouldn’t be bad if Melky was traded. About the same level of production.
CC: Yeah, but DeJesus is what he is, Melky could improve.
SG: Sure. But Melky -> Santana/DeJesus, you live with that.
CC: But, what will KC want? That’s more players gone from the system, so the trade for Santana is essentially the guys that go to MIN with Melky + the guys that go to KC, that’s a lot of bodies out of the system, and several of them will be important ones. Hughes/Melky –> Santana/DeJesus is still a tough sell for me
SG: Why?
CC: potential
CC: price
CC: decline
SG: Who is going to have more value over the next five years, Hughes or Santana?
CC: Could be a wash. If not, it could be a lot closer than it’s worth for the extra bodies and salary involved.
SG: I dunno, Yogi. Seems to me Santana is already good and Hughes might be good.
CC: That’s 100% true, but Santana is also already expensive and he’s already been good, and could be in decline already.
SG: It’s very difficult to balance the chances of Santana not being who he is versus Hughes becoming Santana or even a declining Santana. He might be, but chances are he won’t be.
CC: Yes, but will he be a large enough percentage of Santana to make it not worth the salary and the extra pieces involved in the trade, which will be costly as well? I’m thinking yes.
SG: Woof.
SG: A reader of Rob Neyer’s pointed this out in a chat the other day…

Adam (NYC): It’s hard to believe that Santana will win another 100 games though…wouldn’t Hughes have a better chance of reaching that mark than a 29 year old pitcher past his prime? If the Yanks sign Santana to a 10 year extension, they’d be paying Santana $20 million a year at age 39…at the same time Hughes would be entering the prime of his career. Can you say Kevin Brown? Not a very wise business move to say the least.

Rob Neyer: Adam, here’s a chance for some research. Go back and make a list of 20 pitching prospects with Hughes’ credentials. Then make a list of 20 pitchers with Santana’s credentials. I’ll bet you the Santana comps won more games afterward than the Hughes comps did.

Doug (NY): A little research; according to BA, the top pitching prospects since 1990: S.Avery, T.Van Poppell, B.Taylor, Bere, J.Baldwin, B.Pulsipher, P.Wilson, K.Wood, R.White, R.Ankiel, R.Anderson, J.Beckett, M.Prior, J.Foppert, E.Jackson, F.Hernandez, Liriano. It’s too early to tell on some of them (King Felix for example), but other than Beckett, not really a list of HOFers.

Rob Neyer: Exactly. Thank you for doing what I couldn’t do. Granted, Hughes has done more than Van Poppel or Taylor or some of those other guys had done at his age. But the point still holds, I think.

CC: I think that last “granted” is where that argument loses me. Hughes has already had success in the major leagues. He’s not a prospect any more, he’s a major league starting pitcher.
SG: Based on a weally, weally small sample.
CC: Yes, but prospect + ML success > prospect . . . by a lot.
SG: True.
CC: So the relevant points from that list are Avery, Ankiel, Prior and Wood, Beckett and King Felix. Still troublesome, but the Yankees have learned the lesson of Prior and Wood in terms of workload, and Ankiel was a fluke. Beckett and King Felix are not guys you’d give up in a Santana trade, and Avery won 47 games from age 21-23.
SG: Well, Ankiel had a kind of injury. Or numerous injuries as it turned out.
CC: I’m just saying, I’d make the trade and take on the salary straight up, but with all the other stuff involved, it may not be worth it.
SG: You can argue it either way.
CC: And indeed we have.

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