Saturday, December 08, 2007

No Santana, No Worries - For Now

The Red Sox and the Twins conspired together throughout the days and long nights of baseball's winter meetings. They conspired not, apparently, to make a blockbuster trade involving Johan Santana and several of Boston's bluechip prospects, but rather to waste countless hours of productivity in their respective markets. Fans around the country (and in the Sox's case at least, globe) checked media outlets with breathless regularity, waiting to learn the outcome of the "wag the dog" production that was the Trade That Never Was.

In most circles, even the rarified fanbase air that are the Sox Prospects and Sons of Sam Horn messageboards, the failure of the teams to pull the trigger on a trade has been met with a soft relief from many posters. The cost of acquisition for most of the packages being thrown around was too much for Boston fans; and for the Twins, the thought of prematurely losing the face of the franchise was too agonizing.

Given the situation, this probably means that a fair trade was in place. The Red Sox should have to suck it up if they want to acquire the best left-hander in the business, and the Twins need to understand that Santana is leaving them, and they need to get some value back.

Twins GM Smith is walking a fine line right now. It would be hugely irresponsible for him to fail to get an excellent package for Santana, and the fact is that with other top-tier starters like Haren, Bedard, and Lincecum being shopped - all of whom are younger and will cost significantly less - he could end up without a chair when the music stops. That would be an unmitigated disaster: even if Liriano returns to health, the Twins will not compete next year. They just won't. And the midseason return on Santana will be far less than what's being offered now.

Still, Smith wouldn't pull the trigger, thinking he can get one of NYY or Boston to panic down the road and meet his demands (they are realistically the only two teams at the table). So the meetings came and went, and here we are with no Santana. And if you're a fan of a "homegrown" Sox team; if you're a fan of keeping the young players you've watched rise through the minors - not so much for Winning reasons, but for baseball reasons - you're okay right now. The emotional price was pretty high, and after everything was said and done, the family's still together.

Now, this deal could still go through, and everyone will understand if it does, and even celebrate. Nobody in their right mind could complain if the Sox sign Santana; especially if he only costs one of Lester or Ellsbury. He's too good, and it makes the Sox too good, and no matter the cost, those points are inarguable. But to many of us who wanted to watch a team of "our guys" go out there and compete, the cost will have been steep.

Moreover, the acquisition will just seem a little too "Yankee". And that might just be the highest price to pay of all.

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