From what I’ve read, critics believe that the Mets made a terrific deal in nabbing Johan Santana, offering a less attractive package than the ones the Yankees and Red Sox had reportedly offered.
ESPN analyst Keith Law loves the deal from a Mets perspective:
The Mets get Johan Santana without giving up Fernando Martinez, their best prospect, or Mike Pelfrey, their best young pitcher. They also immediately make themselves the favorites to win their division and have a good argument that they’re the best team in the National League. It’s hard to see this deal as anything other than a win for New York, and given how many people claimed (erroneously) that the Mets didn’t have the prospects to get Santana, it must be doubly sweet for Omar Minaya right now.
For the Twins, or at least for their fans, this has to feel like a huge letdown after a winter that saw names like Jacoby Ellsbury and Phil Hughes bandied about by the media, although whether those players were actually available in trade talks is another matter entirely. The Twins deal their best asset and the best pitcher in franchise history — not to mention the greatest Rule 5 pick in the history of that draft — for quantity, but not the type of quality you expect a pitcher of his caliber to fetch in return.
Aaron Gleeman, a Twins fan-turned analyst, championed Santana from the start. He writes:
In a perfect world Santana would christen the new ballpark with an Opening Day start in 2010 and wear a Twins cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, but for whatever reason his remaining in Minnesota never seemed to be a legitimate option once the trade rumors began swirling. Swapping him for packages led by Hughes or Ellsbury would have put the Twins in a better position for both short- and long-term success, so if either of those deals were passed on then Smith made a major mistake.
With that said, getting Gomez, Guerra, Mulvey, and Humber from the Mets likely beats keeping Santana for one more season and taking a pair of draft picks when he departs as a free agent. A toolsy center fielder who hasn’t shown much offensively, a very raw 18-year-old pitcher, and a pair of MLB-ready middle-of-the-rotation starters is no one’s idea of a great haul for Santana, but it’s not a horrible one and Smith may have backed himself into a corner by not jumping on better offers immediately.
The end result of a bad situation handled poorly is a mediocre package of players that has no one excited, but even acquiring Hughes or Ellsbury wouldn’t have made losing Santana easy to live with. Trading away one of the best players in franchise history while he’s still at the top of his game is a horrible thing and doing so without getting the best possible return for him is extremely disappointing, but the Santana trade still has a chance to work out in the Twins’ favor. It just could have been better.
Over at BP, Nate Silver likes what the Mets have done as well:
…My sense is that people are looking for Sandy Koufax circa 1965 and that’s not likely to be the case. For one thing, while Shea is an excellent pitchers’ park, the Metrodome had become a pretty good pitchers’ park too, so the marginal gain is less than you’d think. For another, Santana’s talent level appears to have degraded just a tiny little bit from his 2004-2006 peak; he’s always been a flyball pitcher, but now a few more of those flyballs are landing for home runs.
But. Santana’s WARP and VORP totals are essentially pure profit for the Mets, since some of the guys they were running out there last year were replacement level talents at best. And it’s hard to think of another permutation of team and player that does more to improve a team’s chances of reaching the playoffs. Considering that the Mets managed to achieve this without giving up a single top-tier prospect, this is a happy day for Mets fans.
In the New York Sun, Tim Marchman writes that Omar Minaya has outdone himself:
Trading for Santana at all would have dispelled the evil funk that has surrounded the team since it collapsed down the stretch last fall; getting him by giving up what Minaya did makes for one of the great moments in team history. Much as the Atlanta Braves did when they signed Greg Maddux, then 27, in 1992, or the Boston Red Sox did when they traded for Martinez when he was 26, the Mets have acquired something irreplaceable: a pitcher established as the very best in the game with years left in his prime. It would be unfair to expect Santana to elevate his game, as Maddux and Martinez did by winning world championships and multiple Cy Young awards with their new teams. It would also be impossibly cynical not to wonder if he just might be able to do that.
John Harper of the Daily News, believes that Brian Cashman should get an assist here:
In the end, Omar Minaya deserves credit for waiting out the Twins on Johan Santana, finally making this conditional trade without giving up Jose Reyes, Fernando Martinez or Mike Pelfrey. But let’s be honest: the GM to whom Mets fans should be most grateful Wednesday is Brian Cashman.
Make no mistake, had the Yankees wanted Santana, he’d be heading to the Bronx right now rather than Queens. And Cashman has to know that Hank Steinbrenner is sure to remind him of that if Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain don’t blossom into an elite pitching trio as Cashman hopes.
It was Cashman, along with Hal Steinbrenner, the more fiscally conservative of the Steinbrenner brothers, who convinced Hank to invest in the young pitching rather than give it up and then spend huge money for Santana.
Judging from what I’ve read in the comments section here over the past couple of months, most Yankee fans are pleased that Phillip Hughes et al will be sticking around.
Hey, just a few short weeks until pitchers and catchers.