Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Thoughts, Post-Biggest Deal in Met History (Maybe)


Here's how this deal breaks down for me if I'm a fan of each team that found themselves involved in the circus.

The Met Fan: I am absolutely, indescribably ecstatic. I have just landed the best pitcher my team has seen since Gooden's heyday, or maybe even The Franchise himself (I'm not counting Pedro as his peak was pre-met) without losing a single established Major League player, and without draining my system of its best pitcher and best position player. I have suffered through a long offseason after a longer September, an offseason rife with questions about the dedication of my ownership outside of the dollar bill, and the capability of my front office. Everywhere I saw Matt Wise, Ryan Church, Angel Pagan and Ricardo Rincon; I saw J-Roll beaming again with confidence; I saw Tom Glavine nonchalantly head back to his good 'ol boys in Thrasherville; I saw every personality on any airwave that could sniff a baseball cast my team aside in the Santana race, lest my superstar SS were included; I saw Hank Steinbrenner tamper and bumble his way through my emotions as a fan; And then I saw Freddy Coupons cash in his stash; I see the city of brotherly love stuffing their faces nervously with tastycakes; I see tomahawks going limp; I see the Mets not come in second in a major sweepstakes. There is, from the standpoint of a Met fan, nothing to complain about here. Nothing. On a scale of 1-10, the met fan comes out of this with a 10.

The Yankee Fan: As a Yankee fan in this spot, I would be very much at odds with these droves of fans, who are seemingly happy about Johan and the Mets because of his not going to Boston. It would seem to me that Theo and co. never really had their hearts in it. They tried to steal the girlfriend because they hated the boyfriend, not because they gave a damn about the girl. I would sit, as a Yankee fan, and look at what it is and what it could have been. I have Phil Hughes, who has always been highly touted, but so thoroughly unproven (note this article on former #1 pitching prospects), and I have Melky Cabrera, who may not be more than a Benny Agbayani without all that class. I have Ian Kennedy, whose ceiling does not rise so high, and I have Joba, who we all love in the Bronx, but he has a slight bug problem, and only a couple of months behind him. IN my rotaion I have Wang, who is a strong pitcher and still very young, butwho was shaky last year at times, and has come up miserably in the postseason. I have Hughes. I have a shell of Mike Mussina. I have Joba, unless he is in the 'pen, and if he is not, I have big questions there. Then I have Pettitte, who is a serious question in the wake of the report and his age, followed by a large cast of characters such as Igawa, Kennedy, Karstens, Sanchez, etc. It's ok, but it's not like Boston, or Anaheim, or Detroit, or Cleveland, or even Toronto. Seattle, anyone? I had a chance to get a pitcher who very well may have become the greatest pitcher in Yankee history, and the same GM that brought Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright would not bring me Johan Santana. My silver lining is that the Red Sox do not have him either, and I still have my kids, who could prove the law of averages wrong and become Santanas in their own rites, but I cannot patronize those other NY fans any longer. I must watch my crosstown rivas who hate me so puff their chests out, justifiably so. If I'm a Yankee fan, after seeing what it took the Mets to get him, I want Cashman out for not doing this, plain and simple.
On a scale of 1-10 the Yankee fan comes out of this with a 3.

EDIT: Upon further review, after reading this Bob Klapisch article from Northjersey.com, I feel even more strongly about this assessment. If what he's saying about the Twins offering to make a deal sans Hughes is true, it is inexcusable not to deal Kennedy, Melky and a third prospect for Santana, though Klapisch himself may not agree with me.

The Red Sox Fan: I see myself as being on the opposite end of the Yankee fan. Surely, I would have greatly benefited from seeing Santana pitch at Fenway, and it may hurt a bit after the media frenzy just post-winter meetings that told me Johan was mine, but I am not in a position where I need the man. I have arguably the best staff in the game as is, and most of it is poised to grow and get better. Lost amongst talk of Beckett and Lester and Buchholz is last winter's crush Dice-K, who may fare much better once adjusted to life in the states, with its smaller strike zones and all. I did not get that major shot to get better, but I am already on top, and my youth is considerably more proven than that of the Yankees. Papelbon is the best at what he does, and my two big young pitchers between them have a no-hitter and a World Series clinching win already. My new CF gave my team such a shot in the legs last fall that it ran all the way through the Rockies, and he's safe without Johan coming. Did I mention that none of these players were the rookie of the year? That's my 2B. I have a team with a cunning young GM that has played the Yankees like a violin in the Johan sweepstakes, ownership that has won more than all our previous owners, and a solid manager who is one of the game's best. My counterparts in the Bronx have drama at the hot corner, a new manager thrust into a mass of egos, one of whom he once served as the backup to, a loudmouthed new owner who is there through nepotism alone, and a GM that has produced the highest payroll in the game year after year with not a recent playoff series win, let alone a ring, to show for it. I don't need Santana, my rivals probably did, and they didn't get him. Oh, and all that money the Yankees spend that makes them so hard to compete with? It comes from a market that just may flip a bit over to the other team in town. I'm just fine.
On a scale of 1 to 10 the Red Sox fan comes out of this with an 8.

The Twins Fan: Well, what can I say? We've pulled rabbits out of hats before in Minny. After all, Santana himself was a mere rule 5 pick. There was the Pierzynski trade, the Viola trade, etc. I didn't get nearly what I thought I may in return for my ace, but I got a potential OF stud and 3 pitchers to add to a mix of many young arms that just have to produce a star or two. Under the radar as it has been, I am getting Liriano back this year, who showed Santana-esque flashes in 2006. I wasn't going to get anything if I kept Johan and he walked next year, my team tried the extensions and failed, and at least I have something in return. Maybe the whole not having to face Johan thing is a tad overblown, seeing as the Twins may not contend at all for a few years, but it helps to not have to watch one of the two biggest haves of my AL live it up with my old buddy. Despite the downsides, I have to have faith in an organization that has pulled out unlikely star after unlikely star. And I have Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer all tied up. But one day, seriously, could Minnesota just keep one superstar and not watch them dominate somewhere else? Moss, KG, Santana...
On a scale of 1 to 10, the Twins fan comes out with a 4.5

A nice little anecdote: About five minutes after I read the words have acquired, on MetsBlog, God Bless Matt Cerrone, I called up Legends Sporting Goods, a local store here in Bay Ridge that makes customs jerseys, and asked for a #57 Santana Mets Pinstriped Home Jersey. The guy on the other end of the phone very emphatically asked me, "why?". I said, "you didn't hear? We got him!" The man was indeed unaware and started yelling with excitement, thanking me for making his day, and saying he'd be more than happy to make me that jersey. Such are the joys of the connection we experience through fandom.

Oh, this article from braves.com is a must-read for humor's sake. Best headline ever: Santana Deal Brings Parity to NL East. In it, Tom Glavine describes how the Mets' getting Santana "certainly evens the balance in the division". Oh, because the Braves picking up your old junk arm and Mark Kotsay really thrusted them to the top.

EDIT: "WOOOOOO" (Think Ric Flair)



The New York Metropolitans have acquired Johan Alexander Santana Araque from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for four players who have yet to be officially named, but are reportedly Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey. (USA TODAY)

The Mets will have a 72 hour window to negotiate with Santana on a contract extension. All along, the word has been that he wants a 7-year deal at about 20 million or more per year. In light of Santana's reported rejection of a Twins offer earlier in the day of a 5-yr, $100 million deal, one would have to assume that this extension will get done. The Mets were probably fully aware of Santana's unwillingness to go 5 years before they pulled the trigger on this deal, which would imply that they have no issue going 6 years on a contract with him. When all is said and done, with so much at stake, one year will not be a deal-breaker; someone will budge. 6 years at 20 mil and a 7th year player option at a lower price, perhaps?

Anyhow, there isn't much you can say to fully express the significance of this deal. Any of the Omar naysayers can cut the word "nay" out of their vocabulary for good, as he has just pulled off a masterful deal. Every move he has made here has been perfect. He has remained calm throughout, not hinting at much in any direction, and in spite of the frenzy surrounding him, he waited and waited and waited until the final right moment and got us the ace of all aces without giving up Jose Reyes, Fernando Martinez, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez or Aaron Heilman. The team as of now is the same 88-win team it was last year, essentially, plus Santana, a healthy(er) Pedro and some improved defense. Subtract a late season collapse, which you hopefully can, and you've got 100 wins. It may be early yet, but now we can really dream.

All I can say is, wow. Wow.

2008 is my year, I'll tell ya. I got my first son, the Giants in the Super Bowl playing the Patriots, and Johan a Met. Might have to start calling the kiddo Johan.

Oh, the Nationals have agreed to terms on a one year deal with Johnny Estrada, "giving them even more options on offense". Cool, dudes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

One More Met Fan in the World

Last Friday, January 11th, at 12:24pm, my wife and I welcomed our first child, James (III), to the world. That's him with his dad up above. He was born in Manhattan and has now come home with us to Brooklyn. I'll tell you that everything they say about having a kid is 100% true and there's really no way to put in to words how we both feel about this little guy, and how intense the whole experience is.

Haven't decided yet when he'll see his first game at Shea (Or Citi), but I hope soon, because judging from this weekend's football results the kid has good sports mojo.

I actually held his hand for good luck when the Cowboys had 4th and 11 at the end of yesterday's game, and lo and behold the ball was picked off and Big Blue pulled off the major upset in Big D.

Things have remained pretty quiet on the baseball front, aside from Hank Steinbrenner's daily flip-flopping. I'm starting to think Hank might be the James Dolan to George Steinbrenner's Charles Dolan, which is a good thing if you want to see the Yanks go downhill.

A friend of mine came up with a nice little acronym for the Steinbrenner bunch: HGH, for Hank, George and Hal.

At any rate, whatever rumblings have been bouncing around from Hank to Omar to the Minnesota Star-Tribune have been increasingly encouraging, and maybe, just maybe, we could walk away with Johan without even losing both Gomez and F-Mart. My stance has always been that if it took them both to get it done, by all means do it, but if you don't have to, even better.

I have a feeling this next 7-10 days could get a lot more interesting.

It's real far away from now and all, but just in case anyone was worried, whenever Jose Reyes does decide to retire in 20 or so years, I got a tip on this little kid down in Brooklyn that's supposed to develop into a real good shortstop by about 2027...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Spiritual Awakening?


So I was watching some Hockey highlights on FSN late night/early morning (Go Isles, BTW), and I noticed in passing the words "Mets Acquire" on the bottom line. I said nothing, but my jaw tightened up and my heart started racing ever so slightly as I grabbed the MacBook to go searching. Alas, this sudden acquisition was merely Angel Pagan, former Met farmhand (and maiden voyage Brooklyn Cyclone) and a .264 hitter in 148 AB's last season in ChiTown. He is , in essence, a poor man's Endy Chavez at this point, with perhaps the potential to develop into a regular man's Endy Chavez sans Game 7 heroics.

Upon reading about the deal, I called one of my more involved Met fan friends, who I knew was out at a bar and therefore not in range of media, and told him simply, "we got him." His reaction really made me feel bad, I mean deeply, deeply sorry, as his slight drunkenness allowed him to take the full leap into momentarily believing that my statement meant that either Johan Santana was a Met, or that my wife, now less than a week short of her due date, had given birth to our first child. But it was only Angel Pagan.

I'm starting to believe that Santana will be dealt the moment my kid is born. Not to put the two events on the same level in the grand scheme of my life, but both sagas at this point have left me with the same mantra: Come on!

Yes, we have purchased a Mets baby cap and onesie.

The fallout of this Pagan deal is potentially big and potentially negligible.
A) Omar wanted to add another 4th/5th OF type in case of the outfield injury bug that liked to hit if 2/3 of your outfield is Beltran and Alou. The deal is for depth, plain and simple.
B) Omar is going to deal Gomez and/or F-Mart and/or Endy for Johan or another top-flite SP, and has acquired Pagan to fill in the spot(s) left empty by such a deal.
C) The Twins have an irrational love for Angel Pagan.

Of those three options, C is clearly not the case, but I hope B is.

At this point, I just want to get Johan. Period. Only two situations, to me, justify not doing it. The first one being if the Yankees break completely and include everything the Twins want, and the second one being if the Red Sox do the same. In either case, there's really no offer the Mets could make to match, but any other way you spin it, they should get a deal done. Give 'em any of the studs, honestly I don't care. Here's the recipe:
Add of 2-3 of the following: Gomez, F-Mart, Pelf, Humber, Mulvey, Heilman
Add one "ML ready Outfielder" (a twins need): Endy Chavez
Add one ML 2B (something the twins lack): Ruben Gotay
Call Bill Smith
Let deal bake for 7 years/150 mil

If this happens, the Mets add the ace of all aces, hold on to every major player on this team, and have either in-house or FA options to replace minor pegs that have been lost. Just do it. Put it in the books.