Sunday, December 2, 2007

Do I Believe Any Of These Sox / Yanks / Santana Leaks? Not For A Second

When the Sox and Yanks are involved in a potential trade, there's more feces in the air than a Chinese take-out kitchen.

The Johan Santana trade situation is infuriating. Every minute there's a new story about a different player the Sox or Yanks are willing to part with for Santana despite the fact that the player was labeled "untouchable" in a previous leaked story. And there are the stories about the stories. Writers are writing stories about how the teams are using the media to leak bullshit trade props in order to make the other team up their offer and get rid of better players. And the writers are perfectly happy to oblige and post as many bullshit stories as possible no matter how realistic. It's f'n ridiculous and I don't believe a fucking peep of it. I think when you step back and take a look at the two teams involved in this, it's easy to see exactly what's going to happen without trying to weave through the thorny thatch of misinformation the writers are feeding us.

First, the Yanks need Santana much more than the Sox do for a ton of reasons. The first being that their current rotation is not really major league quality. So far it looks like Wang, Mussina and three guy who have combined for less than 20 starts over their entire careers combined. And as much as you might love the idea of Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy starting some day, that is about as shaky a rotation as there is in the AL East and perhaps all of the major leagues. I know everyone loves Joba Chamberlain (and if you've been a reader here for awhile you know that I do not), but you have no fucking clue what those 3 young guys will give you as starters and even less of a clue what Mussina has left. That rotation is in dire need of a frontline starter. Meanwhile the Sox have 6 guys in their starting rotation right now and two guys in the minors who they think they could bring up at any point this season in Masterson and Bowden. While the addition of Santana certainly wouldn't be a downgrade, there's not as much of a need.

Second, the Sox will not part with either Buchholz or Ellsbury and the Yanks will not part with Cano, Jackson or Tabata. I don't care what you read, none of those guys are going anywhere. The position players especially will go nowhere. Projecting position talent is INFINITELY more reliable than pitching talent. The Yanks are old at every position except 2nd base. Cano is a potential perennial All-Star while Jackson and Tabata (Tabata in particular) are well developed talent in a system very light on good position talent. None of those guys are going anywhere. Ellsbury is locked up by the Sox for a bunch of years for cheap and is the best position prospect in their organization. Meanwhile the guy Ellsbury is replacing, Coco Crisp, is a top notch defender who the Twins could use and who they can move to Oakland for Haren if the Santana deal falls through or to the White Sox straight up for a young arm. Why would the Sox trade their younger, cheaper and better CF option for a position of depth in their organization when teams are interested in the older, shittier and more expensive CF?

Third, other than Chamberlain, the Yanks will give up ANY combination of young pitchers to get Santana. This seems like common sense to me but no one seems to get it. Of the three young pitchers on the Yanks, it is likely that one will flame out and be out of baseball in a couple years, one may find his way to the bottom of a rotation at some point in his career and one may become a number 2 starter, probably after Tommy John surgery. But it is even safer to say that NONE OF THEM will become Johan Santana. Let me repeat that. Of all the pitchers being considered for the trade for Johan Santana, NONE will be as good as Santana. Not Joba Chamberlain or Clay Buchholz or Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy or Michael Bowden or Justin Masterson. The chance that these guys never throw a pitch again in the majors is ten times more likely than the chance that they become a starter even in spitting distance of the talent level of Santana. So the idea that the Yanks would think twice about the giving up the middle of the rotation ceiling of Ian Kennedy or the top of the rotation potential and mounting injury history of Phil Hughes for the best pitcher in baseball is absurd. They will trade any of those guys. The only reason they wouldn't trade Chamberlain is for PR reasons. People haven't fallen in love with Hughes or Kennedy yet (though they probably should love Kennedy because he may be the smartest "pitcher" of the bunch), so they won't be as upset if those guys are moved, even if it may be true that Hughes and Kennedy have a better starter's pedigree.

Fourth(ly), the idea that the Yanks, Twins and Sox are talking and accidentally leaking this information is flat out comical. The Sox don't talk about this shit in public. Ever. Under Theo, they have a steadfast policy of complete radio silence during negotiations. And unlike past regimes, it's actually been effective. The Gagne deal got done in the last days without too many people knowing. The trades for Renteria and Coco Crisp came out of nowhere, as did the famous Nomar trade. Nobody saw that coming. It doesn't benefit the Sox to have other teams know what they are offering. So the only reason that this information would come out would be to provide bullshit information so that other teams up their offers. But there is no way that the other teams aren't aware of this, so it ends up being bullshitters bullshitting other bullshitters. It's all so fucking stupid.

Lastly, you're kidding yourselves if you think that anyone other than the Yanks are getting Santana. In the end, they'll include Hughes, Cabrera and possibly Sanchez or some other young arm (maybe even Kennedy) in order to get a deal done. It makes too much sense. The Twins can't afford Santana so it makes sense for them to move him now when his value is highest (Santana has a history of starting slowly in the first half of the season so his value might decrease by the trade deadline). The Yanks have talent the Twins need and they have a gaping hole at the top of their rotation. Throw in the fact that their biggest rival has won two world series over the last 5 years to the Yanks' none and that their fans are being told that the Sox are in prime position to grab Santana without substantially decreasing the talent in their organization (creating a Beckett, Dice-K, Santana, Buchholz rotation for the next 4 years at least), and it's a no brainer.

My guess is that the 72 hour negotiating window is opened tomorrow and by Wednesday the Yanks have their man at 7 years for around $180 million with Hughes, Cabrera and Horne (or possibly Sanchez) gone to the Twins. As a Sox fan, I'll be glad it's all over. And more importantly, I can't wait for the Jacoby and the Sox to take on the Yanks and their elderly outfield threesome of Matsui, Damon and Abreu. Even Manny could hit a triple against that crew.

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