Tag Archives: Johan Santana

So how rich are the Yankees?

Bill Madden reported on Wednesday that the Yankees actually received an offer they were looking for from the Twins, but backed out due to financial concerns:

But it is more than just Cashman’s belief in Hughes that suddenly put the Yankees in full retreat after Hank Steinbrenner had sounded the “Charge!” on Santana. Believe it or not, the final decision not to go through with a deal that was on the table – one that would have sacrificed Hughes, Melky Cabrera, 23-year-old Double-A righthander Jeff Marquez and 22-year-old A-ball third baseman Mitch Hilligoss – was based on money.

Cashman did not want another huge contract for a pitcher. He also didn’t want to push the payroll into the $220 million+ range, even if there is a ton of money coming off the books.

Then Bob Klapisch yesterday talks about the Yankees being an infinite source of wealth:

The money wasn’t going to a problem for the Bombers, at least not until Brian Cashman lost his nerve and convinced Hank Steinbrenner to step away. The point is, the Yankees could’ve satisfied Santana’s desire for turbo-dollars and not felt any pain whatsoever.

One agent bluntly said, “You hear about how rich the Yankees are, but no matter how much we think they’ve got, I bet they’ve got 10 times that.” With a new stadium (and scores of luxury boxes) coming in 2009, not to mention the YES Network, which is worth an estimated $3.5 billion, and you begin to understand why the Yankees went from $270 million to $314 million with A-Rod without even flinching.

I feel obligated to address the last part of the quote: I know that ESPN has reported that A-Rod’s contract value rose to $314 million. That’s because there are deferred payments coming from the Rangers on it. Would you flinch if there was money coming from another team? Yeah me neither.

But do the Yankees really have that kind of wealth? If they did, wouldn’t they have pulled the trigger on the Santana deal?

As with most things, the answer probably falls somewhere in between. Sure the Yankees could have paid Santana. But why pay him when you have to give up premium young talent to do it? Young talent is worth more in baseball today than any other commodity. Cashman probably knew the Red Sox didn’t want to give up their youth in this deal either.

So where we stand right now, it looks more and more like Santana will become a free agent next year. At that point the Yankees can flex their financial muscle and lose only a first round pick as a result.

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Which Trade is Better?

So I’m a Yankee fan. I want the Red Sox to make the worst deal possible if they do trade for Santana. So which scenario should I hope for?

Scenario 1: The package that centers around Jacoby Ellsbury.

Scenario 2: The package that centers around Jon Lester.

I think Jon Lester is a better player then Jacoby Ellsbury. Let’s face it: Ellsbury is all hype at this point. He’s the next Johnny Damon at best. Lester might not have Hughes’ potentially but he could be an ace or at least a 2-3 starter if everything pans out. So from a talent standpoint, I’d rather see the Red Sox get rid of Lester.

But if the Red Sox get rid of Lester and Crisp while netting Santana, they are trading from a position of strength. If they deal Ellsbury, how much better would their team really be for 2008? They’d still have Crisp in CF or be looking for one. And they’d have Beckett, Santana, Dice-K, Schilling, Lester, Buchholz, and Wakefield. Santana is much more valuable than the average replacement player. But when your replacement is Lester or Buchholz? Perhaps not as much.

When all is said and done I’d still rather see Scenario 2. It’s just an interesting debate.

And I’m not sold on the Red Sox deal happening quite yet.

No-Win Situation

Minnesota countered the Yankees offer last night with the following: Hughes, Cabrera, Marquez, and either Horne or Jackson. The Yankees declined, and rightly so. Yet, now reports are the Twins are prepared to accept the Red Sox offer of Lester, Crisp, Lowrie, and Masterson. Is this really better than Hughes, Cabrera, and Marquez (which is a deal I think the Yankees would accept)?

Teams and players always want more from the Yankees whether it is money or prospects. It would be easy for the Yankees to simply throw Horne or Kennedy into the deal. After all, would that really impact their 2008 rotation? You’d have Santana, Pettitte, Wang, Chamberlain, Mussina. However, the Yankees have justly stopped defining trades simply based on a one year impact. What happens after next season when Pettitte may finally retire and Mussina almost certainly leaves? Then the Yankees could be back shopping again. This is all about value. Santana and the huge extension he would require is simply not worth Hughes, Cabrera, and another top flight player.

Jayson Stark of ESPN reports:

Officials from other clubs said several of the Yankees’ baseball personnel at the meetings had begun openly questioning whether they even wanted to make this trade if the Twins said yes.

“The more this goes on,” said one AL executive, “the less they want to do it.”

I’m sure many members of the Yankees brass can imagine the articles already. You know the ones in the middle of the 2008 season where Santana gets compares to Hughes, and it turns out Santana has only been marginally better despite being almost 8 years older and making more than 50 times what Hughes makes.

And he’s back!

Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees and I can honestly say, I always thought he would.

So where does that leave the Santana Sweepstakes? On one hand there is less pressure to acquire a veteran arm with Pettitte around. On the other hand, having a 1-2-3 of Santana, Wang, and Pettitte would be nasty (not to mention following with Joba, Moose, and Kennedy).

The Yankees have made their final offer: Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and a mid-level prospect (essentially not Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, Dellin Betances, Jose Tabata, or Alan Horne). This is at least comparable to the Red Sox package of Lester, Lowrie, Crisp, and Masterson and probably better simply because Crisp makes too much money for what he produces. The Red Sox have since put the Ellsbury into the deal instead of Lester and Crisp (while presumably adding another mid-level prospect as well). From a talent standpoint this is actually a worse package, as Ellsbury isn’t as good as Lester. But according to Jack Curry of the NYTimes, the Twins might not agree. In fact, they rate Ellsbury higher than Hughes.

If this is true, it might not be worth it for the Yankees to even be at the negotiating table. If there is that big of a disparity in how the Twins and Yankees rate the Yankees’ prospects, its hard to find an equitable deal.

Either way, it’s good to have Andy back.

Is it worth it?

Apparently the Yankees may be willing to include Phil Hughes in the deal of Johan Santana. I still think they should sit on their offer of Kennedy, Melky, and a prospect for now. If the Yankees do include Phil Hughes, it is imperative that they include few other prospects.

As it stands now, an optimist could envision a Yankee team in a couple years includes a rotation of Wang, Hughes, Joba, Kennedy, and Horne. A bullpen that includes Ohlendorf, Cox, Sanchez, Melancon, and others. An outfield of Jose Tabata, Austin Jackson, and Melky Cabrera.

If Hughes must be supplanted by Santana, that may be the price of being the Yankees. However, it is important that as many of the other pieces as possible are kept. If Hughes is in the deal, Kennedy, Horne, Tabata, and Jackson must remain Yankees.

I understand that the Yankees want Santana because he’s the best pitcher on the planet. Look what just happened with Milledge; Hughes could very easily come out and have a sophomore slump next year and the Yankees therefore could have “sold high” unloading him now. Santana gives the Yankees the best chance at a World Series championship next year. And I certainly want the Yankees to win the World Series.

But when all was said and done with the 2007 season, there were two moments that stood out above all others.

1. Phil Hughes’ second career start against the Rangers. His fastball was blazing up to 96, his curve was dropping off the table, and the occasional changeup kept the Rangers off balance. For 7 innings, he was untouchable. Watching him strikeout Kenny Lofton, a guy who’s been playing baseball since Hughes was born, and seeing Loften shake his head as if he’s saying to himself “I have no chance” left me in awe. The Yanks were in the midst of their terrible slump to start the year. But Hughes was the savior. No matter what else happened in 2007, it seemed, the Yankees would recover because they would have Phil Hughes to be their ace of the future. When he pulled his hamstring and had to leave the game it was devastating. But everyone knew it was just a hamstring, not an arm problem. He would return; hope remained.

2. Joba Chamberlain pitches 2 innings against the Tigers in August. He faces the heart of the Tiger order and overpowers Guillen, Sheffield, and Ordonez. I still remember listening to John Sterling describe the futility of the Tiger’s swings and getting chills. Joba was a force of nature.

I now have a vested interest in both Hughes and Joba, more than just that they play for the Yankees. I cheered for Randy Johnson simply because he was a Yankee. With the young guys, it’s different. And remember, I watch the Yankees not just to see them win. I watch them for moments like I mentioned above as well. And if the Yankees get Santana at the cost of Hughes, the pressure will be on Santana to deliver moments of his own.

Red Fear

There are numerous reasons why it would make sense for the Yankees to acquire Johan Santana. According to Wallace Matthews, the most pressing reason is: so the Red Sox don’t get him.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that the Yankees need to avoid. There are more teams in baseball than simply the Yankees and Red Sox. The Yankees must do what’s best for them. Whatever makes them the best team in the long run will also make them the best equipped to beat the Red Sox. It’s as simple as that.

Matthews states his case:

And then there is one compelling reason for why they damned well better get him, at whatever the cost (short of Joba Chamberlain, of course): If they don’t, he might just wind up with the Red Sox.

That, of course, would be disaster, and the end of baseball as we have come to know it around here. If Santana goes to Boston, the Yankees go to second place in the American League East for the rest of George Steinbrenner’s life, and maybe Hank Steinbrenner’s, too. It’s as simple as that.

No matter how many home runs Alex Rodriguez hits, no matter how many hitters Chamberlain freezes, no matter how many great years Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have left in them and no matter how much further Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy develop, the Yankees will never overcome a team on which Josh Beckett is the No. 2 starter.

Say the Red Sox get Santana. What would you set their chances at of winning the World Series next year? 25% at most? Sure, they would probably be almost a lock to make the postseason. But remember, for all of Beckett’s “clutchness,” it is still possible for aces to have a bad series. And Santana is only 1-4 in the postseason to begin with. So clearly, he can be beat.

To say that the Yankees will never be able to beat a team with Santana and Beckett is foolish, to say the least. I think a better statement would be that the Yankees will never overcome the Red Sox if they trade away too much of their young talent for established players.