Sunday, December 2, 2007


The winter meetings are soon and as the off-season continues, we keep hearing rumours regarding the futures of Johan Santana and Miguel Cabrera. For the most part Blue Jays fans have to content themselves with the possibility that one of them will end up on the two AL East behemoths. Since the Yankees re-signed Alex Rodriguez and the Red Sox Mike Lowell, it appears that the Marlins devourer of pitchers and Krispy Kremes won’t be a concern for the Blue Jays pitching staff.

Thank Providence for small mercies.

Of course, depending on what time of day it is, either one of New York’s finest or the Boston Red Sox have the inside track of landing Johan Santana.

Personally, I’m not really lamenting the Jays non-participation in these derbies. As mentioned last Wednesday, this is the least efficient method of talent acquisition. After all, a trade costs players; free agency costs money--a trade and sign costs both. Generally, a deal of this nature is made with superstar talent from an alleged small revenue team. Clubs like that prefer high ceiling talent that are major league ready with plenty of service time before arbitration and free agency. Therefore, once you cough up the talent, you’re dealing with a player who expects market wages.

In the case of Johan Santana, folks have been tossing around figures like $20 million a year and nobody blinks. The Red Sox and Yankees are likely having to deal one, or perhaps two talented youngsters; one of whom will be a pitcher, then needing to cough up around $100 million to hold on to him.

Obviously, this is something I would prefer the Jays to avoid doing. Johan Santana is an elite talent on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Since April 2002 he is 90-41, 2.90 ERA with a league ERA of about 4.50; Santana whiffs a hitter an inning with a stingy BB/9 of 2.5. On top of all this he is a lefty who is not yet 30 and has a pair of Cy Young awards; consider that Randy Johnson since the year he turned that age is 234-102, 2.97 ERA with five Cy Youngs.

Suffice it to say, the possibilities are breathtaking.

If he’s Randy Johnson--then it will be an incredible trade for the team acquiring him. However, another elite southpaw--Sandy Koufax--was out of baseball at 31. That scenario would make a Santana deal an equally incredible blunder. I prefer the Jays not to make that gamble. I would have no trouble if the Jays landed him as a free agent, but I would hate to cough up a Travis Snider and Dustin McGowan only to commit free agent wages on top of it all.

Switching gears…

Speaking of trades, as a Phillies fan I’m glad Omar Minaya is on our side--or so it would seem. I have heard all the spin as to why the Lastings Milledge trade was defensible. I heard similar sentiments expressed when the Mets dealt Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. In both cases, it appears that these players were dealt because somebody in the organization didn’t like them. I heard that Al Leiter was not fond of Kazmir for whatever reason and since he had the ear of the GM (Jim Duquette)--he was gone. Now it appears that Willie Randolph didn’t care for Milledge due to his dislike of the outfielder’s Hip Hop persona.

The thing is, guys with the ability of Kazmir and Milledge are scarce commodities; aging pitchers and big league managers less so. If there was no market for Milledge for whatever reason, you do not deal him simply to deal him. If you really want to be rid of him, you have to do so in an intelligent fashion. This is where you showcase him; you play him every day and put him in situations where he can succeed. You display his amazing talents for both leagues to see and increase his value in the trade market.

One of two things occurs--you discover his ability is so compelling that you hang on to him and help him grow up. Lastings Milledge is 22; chances are he’ll be a different person at 25 and again at 30. You simply cannot let go of that level of talent because some grumpy older guy decides he doesn’t like the whippersnapper’s attitude. Let’s not forget that we were the same at that age--full of ourselves, enjoying tweaking the old guard and generally being young.

Probably the worst part of this deal is that the Mets had such a talented, cheap outfielder and are in desperate need of pitching and all they get is a corner outfielder and backup catcher. I feel bad for Mets fans. First, it was Tom Seaver, then Scott Kazmir, now Lastings Milledge--all of whom were dealt for personal and not professional reasons. In each case, it was some middle-aged or older person who forgot what is what was like to be young and lost all sense of patience with people not unlike younger versions of themselves.

Every Phillies fan should send something from the Hip Hop culture whether music, clothes or bling to the most talented players on the Mets roster. Before long, they’ll have 25 Al Leiter clones on the roster getting their teeth kicked in by every team in the NL.

However, they’ll be nice, clean cut, polite doormats--a treat for the local Seniors Ladies’ Auxiliary who will be there faithfully to cheer on the Mets to their 50th win sometime in mid-September.

Best Regards


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