Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Great Prospect Hold Swindle

Recently, at the Boyd/Lee/Gedman dinner, the panel was asked if they thought the Red Sox should trade young kids for Johan Santana. As all three former players enthusiastically shook their heads "no," the audience full of Red Sox fans cheered wildly in agreement.

The other night at the New York baseball writers' dinner, a pro-Yankee crowd (as well as Theo Epstein) applauded just as loud when Brian Cashman suggested avoiding a similar Santana trade.

Okay, so both fanbases have learned the important general lesson that just buying superstars is not the way to win. We learned this from the fact that the Yanks won before they started overpaying for really big stars, and then stopped winning once they got to a point where they basically had an All-Star at every position. And we learned this from the fact that the Red Sox have developed a farm system which has been turning out golden-coated rookies lately, and combined with the stars we already had, has led to great success for the big club.

Another thing we've all learned is how pitching wins championships, and you can have a "murderer's row" lineup, but without solid pitching, you're going to lose in the playoffs to a team that has it.

Stay with me here. Here's where the secret trick comes in. The Yankees, seeing their recent failures, have looked up at the Red Sox lately to try to figure out how to win. We move left, they move left. We move right, etc., etc. At this point we're just messing with them. We acted like giving up young players for Santana would be craaazy. So the Yanks are like, "Oh yeah, well we too can NOT trade for Santana! We know it's cool to keep prospects."

Well, guess what? It's only cool to keep the prospects if you know they're gonna be good! Like ours! You idiots, you coulda had Johan Santana! We've already got a good pitching staff. You're banking on Phil Hughes to be your number three starter. And Kennedy and Chamberlain to be four and five if Mussina shits the bed. You could've turned one of 'em into Johan Santana. You remembered the part about keeping prospects but you forgot how important pitching is.

Okay, I'll go back to that line about "knowing which prospects will be good." The point is, the three key guys the Twins wanted from us have proven themselves, at least a little bit, on the major league level, with two being World Series-winning heroes. All Joba did was generate a lot of hype and choke in the post-season. Kennedy made three starts, and Hughes hasn't looked like the Clemens '86 clone that the Yes Network has already proclaimed him to be. And even if I did think those guys were as good as our guys, we only need one of our guys to make our rotation (and Ellsbury adds so much to our offense as a bonus). They need two, possibly three. Even if they turn out to be great, it probably will take a little while, and again, they could've exchanged just one of those pitchers for Santana. Instead, they let their crosstown rivals take him. Think about it. As a Sox fan, aren't you saying, "I'm glad we didn't give up young guys, and I'm glad the Yanks didn't get Santana"? Yes. In other words, it would've been the right move for them, but not for the World Champs, the Boston Red Sox. Hopefully we see the Mets and Sox go to the '08 playoffs while the Yanks stay home.

[This is all assuming the Mets' trade goes through. Never assume.]

You had me until the stuff about Joba, Kennedy, and Hughes not being great - I'd take any of those guys, and I think the Yankees made the right move here too.
That's why I clarified with that last paragraph. I'm just sayin', the odds that all three become stars are pretty low, especially this season, a season in which they're about three pitchers shy of a full deck. So why not make one of those deals where you keep two and still end up with a rotation of Wang, Santana, Pettitte, Mussina, and either of those other two?

I just feel like the Yanks only think their guys are so awesome just because they exist and they've held on to them instead of trading them away like they've been doing recently and did pre-late 90s, i.e. times they couldn't get the job done.
Hello Jere. As I said in my morning post, the Red Sox and Yankees WANTED Santana...the Mets NEEDED him. And so it goes...
Well that is what everyone seems to think. What I'm saying is the team with by far the most money to spend, and who finally has some desirable prospects to trade, and who hasn't won in 7 years despite this endless supply of cash and a virtual all-star team who never seems to have the PITCHING to win in October, could've had Johan Santana and passed on him.

It's almost like they're keeping the prospects to prove a point: "look, we know how to keep prospects!" When in the case, I mean, come on, even if you guaranteed me all three of those young pitchers would one day be at least "really good," you still turn one into Santana right now. Especially in the situation they're in. You say the Yanks don't NEED Santana? Look at their rotation:

1. Wang. Okay, fine. Overrated, but still good.

2. Pettitte. Lying cheater who happens to be really old.

3. Mussina. Also really old. On last legs.

One of our stock traders had a Wall Street contact telling him yesterday morning that he knew a friend of Theo's, who in turn was saying that Santana would be traded to the Sox within 48 hours. I thought about coming here to post it, but I'm experienced enough to not trust this "friend of a friend"-based speculation.

The Mets really got a steal, since they didn't give up Fernando Martinez. I think this is for the best; makes the Metsies (and the NL in general) more interesting, while the Yanks don't get him. I would have been happy to see him on the Sox, because he clearly would have made the '08 team better. But I wouldn't have felt that comfortable w/giving him the $140mm long term deal, and I'm happy that they're keeping the prospects. Actually the guy that I'm most happy is staying is Jed Lowrie; he's got a chance to be like Pedroia, but at SS.

But I think you're underrating Hughes and Joba. The deal would have made a ton of sense for the Yanks in '08, since those two will be limited in their innings, and likely still going through development issues, but looked at from a long term perspective, I can understand them wanting to keep Hughes and the money to spend elsewhere. Yankee fans, and the Yankee media obviously overrate Joba (and Hughes to a lesser extent) at this point, and I'm as disgusted by the Joba Rules hype machine as you are, but there's still a ton of evidence that they're going to be very good pitchers.
Good points and stuff.

"there's still a ton of evidence that they're going to be very good pitchers."

So, by just general common sense, shouldn't they have used one of these guys to get a guy who already has experience, is possibly the best pitcher in the game, and who has a lot of years? Especially since they need a starter like that right now and for the future? I mean, if all this was about any hitter, I'd have a completely different view of this. But since it's a guy who already is what they want these kids to become, why not instantly turn one into him?

And as for us, at least we've seen our guys at the major league level, and we don't have major issues with the rotation as the Yanks do. I feel like we made the right move and they THINK they did. And the other problem for them is they've got Hank, that idiot, ready to go nuts if it doesn't work out, since he wanted Santana! At least with us, we're like, here's the plan and we're stickin' to it. Hank's like, "this better work, or else..." These guys might shit the bed for a month, have Hank trade 'em away for Barry Bonds or something, and then watch as they have 20-year careers for other teams.
Oh yeah, like I said, I think it would have made a ton of sense for them to trade Hughes/Kennedy for Santana. Santana would have immediately become their ace to go against Beckett, and they still would have had Joba at the back end of their rotation. Since they don't care at all about the money, and since their philosophy remains "World Champions or Bust" every season, it's pretty dumb for them to not pull the trigger.

But I do think that there's a good chance that both Joba and Hughes turn out to be very good major league starters...probably not this year, but in the not too distant future. And from what I can tell, Hank the Blowhard really doesn't have final say on personnel matters...that's the other son, Hal, who apparently share's Cashman's view that they should hold onto top prospects. So if they wouldn't trade Hughes for Santana, I can't see them moving him in any other deals.

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