Twins did what they had to do

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Twins did what they had to do

Post  RedMagma on Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:59 pm

Twins did what they had to do

You don't need to be Branch Rickey to know that the Twins passed up better offers for Johan Santana than the deal they wound up taking.

But what they did Tuesday was simple: They did what they had to do.

If their option had been to take the Mets' offer or climb in a time zone and ride back to December, they'd have chosen that time machine. (Paging Mr. Peabody!)

But unfortunately, the Wayback Machine was in the shop. So let's consider their actual options:

Take the Mets deal ů

Or take two draft picks -- for the best pitcher currently breathing.

Wasn't much of a choice.

Yeah, they could have kept Santana and tried to win with him. But forget that. This isn't the AL Central of 2002-03-04 anymore. They were not going to win this division, Santana or no Santana.

"The trouble the Twins had," said one baseball man Tuesday, "is Detroit and Cleveland. The Twins [with Santana] are a nice, solid team. But I don't see how they could say, even with Santana, that they could beat those teams."

In a perfect world, they could have held onto Santana, played out the first half of the season and figured out where they stood in July. But Santana shut off that option, too, by letting them know he wouldn't waive his no-trade in midseason.

So once again, this came down to A) take the Mets' package or B) settle for two draft picks.

Oh, it's true that some teams out there are comfortable with Option B. The A's did it with Barry Zito. The Indians will probably wind up going that route with C.C. Sabathia. It happens.

But if you're a team in the Twins' position, with next to no chance to win and a new ballpark on the horizon, it's different.

Those two picks, remember, wouldn't arrive until June of 2009. Knowing the Twins, there's a heck of a chance they would use them on two high school kids -- who might not arrive in the big leagues until 2014.

"Also," said one NL executive, "you don't know where those picks are going to fall. You know they're not going to be in the top 15 picks, anyway. And they might be two sandwich picks. Plus you have to pay for them. You have to sign those kids, and that's not cheap anymore. At least when you make a trade, those guys are already signed. They're already paid for."

So for a franchise now pointing toward opening day 2010, the day their new open-air ballpark opens (bring your parkas), the choice was no choice.

I haven't found many people in baseball who like this package. But there's something about the Twins that makes you believe. When they make big deals, they almost never swing and miss.

We won't know for years whether they whiffed on this trade. But given their options, there was no other choice but to make this deal -- and hope Carlos Gomez turns into the next Torii Hunter between now and April 5, 2010.

Five Useless Johan Santana Info-Nuggets

1. Santana (two Cy Youngs) and Pedro Martinez (three) will become the fourth set of teammates with multiple Cy Young Awards, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The others: Pedro and Tom Glavine (2005-07 Mets), Glavine and Greg Maddux (1999-2002 Braves) and Pedro and Bret Saberhagen (2001 Red Sox). Yes, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton both pitched for the 1986 White Sox -- but Seaver was gone by the time Carlton arrived in August.

2. Santana will give the Mets three pitchers who won at least 15 games last year. The only other teams that can say that: Boston (Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka) and Cleveland (C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona and Paul Byrd).

3. Santana's career winning percentage is a ridiculous .679 (93-44). The only Mets with that many decisions who are within 100 points of him are Dwight Gooden (.649), Seaver (.615), Al Leiter (.586) and Ron Darling (99-70).

4. Santana has ripped off four straight seasons of 200-plus innings while striking out more than ane hitter per inning. The only Met who ever had more than one season in a row like that was David Cone (with two, in 1990-91).

5. Santana has led his league in fewest base runners allowed per nine innings (or in WHIP if you prefer) four years in a row. That's as many times as all the great Mets pitchers in history combined have led the NL in that department. The four times the Mets did it: Pedro in 2005, Gooden in 1984 and Seaver in 1971 and '73.


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