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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Why Johan Santana Isnít a Dodger
2008-01-30 09:48
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Pending the negotiation of a long-term contract, the New York Mets have acquired Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana in what many analysts have decided is a steal, a heist, a grift, a shell game in a darkened subway station.

So, some might be asking, why aren't the Dodgers in on this job? Here are three reasons for starters:

1) Dodger general manager Ned Colletti did not participate in trade talks with Minnesota for the past several days, according to Bill Shaikin of the Times.

2) There is no indication that Santana would have been willing to sign a long-term contract with a West Coast team.

3) Though I don't think it's out of the question that the current Dodger leadership would ever offer a player a contract of the caliber Santana appears to be demanding – $140 million or more for six or seven years – it doesn't seem likely.

Now, those aren't insurmountable issues. Had they been surmounted, it's clear that the Dodgers had the players to match what the Mets offered the Twins. Having read various sources, I've come to the conclusion that not one player in the prospect package New York is sending Minnesota is of the caliber of Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw or Andy LaRoche, three Dodgers whose names were bandied as much as anyone's.

From Jim Callis at Baseball America:

Minnesota might be better off if (trade) talks collapse, giving new Twins GM Bill Smith a chance to find a better return for Santana. While he's going to command possibly the richest contract ever given to a pitcher, Santana is the best pitcher in the game. And Smith didn't get enough for him.

Guerra (No. 2), Gomez (No. 3), Mulvey (No. 4) and Humber (No. 7) all ranked prominently on our Mets Top 10 Prospects list. But there's simply too much risk involved in this deal for Minnesota.

The two best prospects in the trade, Guerra and Gomez, come with high ceilings but also lack a lot of polish and have a long ways to go to reach their potential. The odds that they both will do so are slim. …They didn't get a prospect whose combination of ceiling and certainty approaches that of Hughes, whom the Yankees were willing to deal for Santana earlier in the winter. They didn't get a package comparable to the ones the Red Sox reportedly offered earlier, fronted by either Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester and also containing two solid prospects nearly ready for the majors: righty Justin Masterson and shortstop Jed Lowrie. …

As it was, Minnesota's return doesn't compare favorably to the six-player package the Athletics extracted from the Diamondbacks for Dan Haren. The A's also got two quality arms from the White Sox for Nick Swisher.

Opines analyst John Sickels at Minor League Ball: "The Twins didn't get a sure-fire potential superstar here. Guerra might turn into a stud, but it's far from a sure thing. Mulvey and Humber should be useful pitchers, especially Mulvey, and Gomez should be OK but I don't buy into him as a star at this point."

In a sense, the price for Santana fell like the price of the nicest house on the block. It's still a great house, and it's still expensive, but it's not quite as unfathomably expensive as it was.

Should Colletti have jumped back in the talks? Well, I wouldn't have minded him being in the conversation at least. It wouldn't have been a one-year rental of Santana, because either a long-term contract would be negotiated, or the deal would fall through. It would be the most expensive pitcher contract in major league history, a daunting contract invested in someone playing the most fragile position in the sport, but I don't think it would have been an albatross. Allocating 15 percent of the payroll to a superstar is not an inherent mistake. I would do it for Santana; I would have done more for Alex Rodriguez.

You can almost guarantee that Santana will be hurt during a portion of the contract, but during the times he is healthy, he will vie to be the best pitcher in the National League. Would anyone have minded having the age 29-35 seasons of the less valuable Jason Schmidt, injuries and all?

But I am hardly going to lose sleep over Santana ending up elsewhere. The Dodgers still have one of the top pitching staffs in the league. Behind a front four of Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, Hiroki Kuroda and Brad Penny are Jason Schmidt, Esteban Loaiza, Hong-Chih Kuo, James McDonald, Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Meloan. As I pointed out in several columns earlier this year, every major league staff has vulnerabilities; the Dodger staff has fewer weaknesses than most. There could be some rough starts as the Dodgers figure out who's healthy and who's effective, but it's not as if Santana is going to pitch 33 shutouts either. As ToyCannon at True Blue L.A. writes, the Mets needed Santana much more than the Dodgers did.

There is something to be said for acquiring Santana just so that he's not a guy you have to face. In a tight race, Santana can be a difference maker. But the combination of prospects and salary that the Dodgers are retaining can also be a difference maker. I'm not sure that point has been emphasized enough.

I like Santana, just as I liked A-Rod, just as I like this core group the Dodgers are developing. We can thank the development of the farm system for the fact that the Johan Santana Deal or No Deal was not a make-or-break moment for the Dodgers.

* * *

Update: David Pinto of Baseball Musings passes along this account of how the trade went down, from Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record:

This was late Monday night, about 12 hours before the Mets would pounce upon their most dramatic trade in recent history. Twins' general manager Bill Smith, in a panic to move Johan Santana, called the Yankees and admitted surrender: Phil Hughes was no longer a prerequisite, he said. Instead, the Twins asked for Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera and a top prospect. Would the Yankees still be interested, Smith wondered?

The Yankees considered the idea, but only briefly and not seriously. Their passion for Santana started waning as far back as December, when Andy Pettitte announced he was returning to the Bronx. The Yankees' internal straw vote was unanimous: The Twins had waited too long. On Tuesday Yankees' GM Brian Cashman told Smith he was passing on the deal, prompting the Twins to call the Red Sox. Equally devastating news awaited. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester were unavailable.

The Red Sox, in lock step with the Yankees, had essentially backed out, too.
That left the Mets, who after hearing from Smith didn't allow themselves to be bluffed. GM Omar Minaya held firm, insisting the Twins would have to live without Fernando Martinez. As a result - and thanks to the Twins' grim realization that they were without options - the Mets made off with a heist of mammoth proportions. They inherit the major league's best left-handed pitcher, one who's a lock to dominate National League hitters, without giving up a can't-miss prospect.

Comments (68)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-01-30 09:58:40
1.   ibleedbloo
158 Here is a link to the prices and seating chart for the Coliseum game

http://tinyurl.com/37nm6e

2008-01-30 10:05:49
2.   ibleedbloo
FYI, I'm not able to purchase $2 tickets, perhaps they are saving them for the Public on sale or day of event.
2008-01-30 10:07:54
3.   Jon Weisman
Ken Gurnick on the Dodger rotation:

http://tinyurl.com/2wz7jt

2008-01-30 10:08:09
4.   Jon Weisman
2 - I think they're only accepting $2 bills.
2008-01-30 10:08:41
5.   fanerman
GMac In The 909,
It would be wise for you to not ask too many questions. All-seeing eyes are watching.
2008-01-30 10:09:12
6.   Bob Timmermann
Those upper reserved seats at the Coliseum are going to be some of the worst possible seats for a baseball game in the history of the game.
2008-01-30 10:10:50
7.   regfairfield
With this and the Cabrera trade, I don't know why GMs ask for tons, then accept terrible deals. If I'm going to trade Johan for that very questionable load of talent, I'm calling Theo back and say that, okay, you don't have to give us Elsburry and Lester.
2008-01-30 10:11:05
8.   cargill06
I'm hardly going to lose sleep over Santana ending up elsewhere.

I think you would've lost sleep if SD, or COL emptied the farm system to get him.

2008-01-30 10:11:46
9.   GMac In The 909
5 As a former journalist, I am inclined to ask questions. But I also don't want to end up with a sliced nose, Jake Gittes style. Consider my snooping tabled ... for now
2008-01-30 10:13:14
10.   D4P
The only way I lose sleep over a player is if they're making a lot of noise near my bed, or jumping up and down on it.
2008-01-30 10:13:26
11.   Bob Timmermann
Plenty of good seats available in the bleachers for this Dodgers game at the Coliseum:

http://tinyurl.com/2bmqlp

2008-01-30 10:14:12
12.   old dodger fan
Excerpt from Gurnick's article:

"...so if Schmidt isn't ready to answer the bell -- a good bet, if you read between the lines of statements from club officials..."

I guess I missed it. What statements is he talking about?

2008-01-30 10:14:43
13.   Jon Weisman
8 - I might have lost more sleep if he went to a division rival, that's true. The idea of A-Rod going to the Giants even gave me pause. But I don't think Santana-to-SD-or-Colorado was ever a possibility, was it?
2008-01-30 10:15:17
14.   old dodger fan
11 I thought "good bleacher seats at the Coliseum" was an oxymoron.
2008-01-30 10:15:19
15.   regfairfield
8 Yes, I would have if like the Mets they gave up a bunch of B and C talent.
2008-01-30 10:15:23
16.   Jon Weisman
12 - It's all speculation, but I think he's referring to the fact that the Dodgers aren't guaranteeing he'll be ready and that he has no specific target date.
2008-01-30 10:18:16
17.   cargill06
13 no it was never rumored but that's my point. you don't have the emotional attachment to SD or COL farm studs. If you take a look at it from the outside looking in than it seems like a no-brainer. You woulnd't want COL or SD to do it becuase you think it makes them A LOT better. Just as SD, COL, and AZ would hate it if we empited our farm to get him because they think we got A LOT better.
2008-01-30 10:19:57
18.   silverwidow
17 San Diego would be stupid to get rid of Headley or Antonelli, just like Colorado should never get rid of guys like Morales.
2008-01-30 10:20:20
19.   fanerman
17 But it doesn't matter how good we THINK a team is. Only how good they end up actually being. Yes it would have been more of a concern if they went to SD or COL, but they weren't even rumored to be in the running. So why worry?
2008-01-30 10:21:11
20.   cargill06
19 i'm just trying to back my point
2008-01-30 10:21:37
21.   old dodger fan
17 Sure I would hate to see a division rival pick up a great pitcher but what would they have to give up? If they gave up a key offensive player, top prospects and payroll flexibility for the next 6 years they might not be better, and might be worse in the out years.
2008-01-30 10:21:40
22.   Andrew Shimmin
As crummy as what the Twins got from the Mets is, it's probably better than San Diego could have done.
2008-01-30 10:22:09
23.   silverwidow
17 And if we had really "emptied our farm" it would make us WORSE in the long run.
2008-01-30 10:24:04
24.   regfairfield
20 I would also love it if we got Johan for McDonald, Meloan, Hu, and Delwyn. I hate the Haren trade from our perspective because Arizona didn't give up anyone that good, nor did the Mets.

When we start talking Kemp and Kershaw for Johan is when we start having pause.

2008-01-30 10:25:06
25.   Penarol1916
17. That is because you are assuming that they only used prospects who are not necessary for this year. Your deal involved getting rid of one guy who is absolutely necessary for us to have a decent offense this year, and another guy who could be a key to us having a good offense this year.
2008-01-30 10:27:03
26.   Jon Weisman
17 - Santana would probably make the Dodgers better this year. I'm not arguing that point. That doesn't mean that it's a make-or-break situation that I need to lose sleep over. It isn't all or nothing.

The Dodgers stood to benefit less from acquiring Santana than almost every other NL team.

2008-01-30 10:27:51
27.   underdog
RUN: C:\programs\Beatadeadhorse.exe
2008-01-30 10:28:34
28.   ImprobableImpossible
Colorado, in large part, rode their young studs to the World Series. Arizona, in large part, had the best record in the NL because of their young studs.

The team with the most superstars does not automatically win the pennant.

It takes a balanced team: young studs, "marquee" players and dare I even say PVL to win a pennant.

2008-01-30 10:29:28
29.   CajunDodger
Epiphany:

In this deal and the Miggy deal, it seesm that it was less about the quality of the prospects than the fact that they were getting the best the system the Marlins/Twins were trading with had to offer.

The reason we did not win out (or the Red Sox/Yanks)could be because we refused to include the quantity of our best. The Mets gave up 4 of their top ten prospects in a deal. Since many in the media still define Bills/Kemp/Ethier/Loney as prospects, the price would have been absurd.

Now if we had talked about a package lead by Kershaw or LaRoche (Similar to what the Sox did with Elsbury and Lester) and they got to pick from a pool that included DeWitt, Meloan, etc. that may have been reasonable.

I think that it looks better to the casual observer to get the 40% of the Mets elite minor league talent than "settling" for only Phil Hughes/Ellsbury/Kershaw and some B- type prospects.

2008-01-30 10:31:01
30.   fanerman
17 You also have an assumption that we can fill holes through free agency because we're in a large market. But we're already spending about as much as McCourt is willing to spend (which is fair enough amount). If we made a trade for Santana, we would commit even more money, and have that much more trouble filling holes created through such a trade.
2008-01-30 10:31:44
31.   ToyCannon
If anyone is interested in going to the Dodger/Boston Coliseum game with likeable Dodger fans here is your chance.

http://www.truebluela.com/story/2008/1/30/13287/8853

2008-01-30 10:32:24
32.   Humma Kavula
In my opinion, the Mets were just about the only team that should have traded for Santana and even then they might be in huge trouble.

The Mets proved last year that they are oh-so-close but have an imperfect team. Their biggest short-term need is starting pitching. Santana gives them that.

Longer term, they have other needs that they'll need to address, but with this move, they complete their movement to get rid of all their works in progress (except F Martinez). When those needs come up, the Mets will not have any in-house answers. They will be looking at free agents, who are expensive, or replacement talent.

The thing is, it's still the right move for the Mets, because the price is low enough, and the Mets are close enough to a championship, and if the Mets win the World Series in '08 and then injuries take their toll and the Mets find themselves stuck in third place for five years, it will still have been worth it. Flags fly forever.

The Dodgers are different. The Dodgers' core is so young that by taking its time the team increases its chances for a championship in the future, even if it means that the chances of winning in 08 go down a bit.

2008-01-30 10:34:01
33.   ToyCannon
The update is damning to the new GM of the Twins. Looks like he way overplayed his hand. Love the way the Yankee's and Sox didn't capitulate.
2008-01-30 10:34:21
34.   CajunDodger
30
Though, to be fair, the cost of Santana would be greatly reduced by the fact that Nomar/Kent/Lowe/Loaiza/Furcal come off the books to the tune of about $50 million next year which would leave us about $30 million or so to deal with the loss of a good shortstop and one back-end starter and some back-up help in the infield.
2008-01-30 10:36:39
35.   cargill06
well since it's obvious that he will not be coming west, i hope you're all right
2008-01-30 10:37:56
36.   Humma Kavula
33 (1) Agreed. It seems that he should have pulled the trigger on Hughes when he had the chance.

(2) Which, in your opinion, is greater:

1 year of Santana + 2 draft picks

OR

the four prospects they got?

2008-01-30 10:42:50
37.   Bob Timmermann
Debating why Johan Santana isn't a Dodger is about as productive as debating why I didn't get an Oscar nomination this year.
2008-01-30 10:42:54
38.   ToyCannon
36
I think I'd have called Johans bluff and kept him, then see what happens come July when he's pitching for a lousy team and the big boys need pitching. If that didn't happen then I'd just keep him and do the 2 draft picks. Basically what Kristina just said over at BP. No original thought here.
2008-01-30 10:43:28
39.   ToyCannon
37
Because most of our debates are productive in some manner?
2008-01-30 10:49:22
40.   fanerman
37 But you were so close!
2008-01-30 10:49:48
41.   Bob Timmermann
39
I don't like a debate about water under the bridge when there is a wall of water still coming down the river.

And the Academy doesn't like me.

2008-01-30 10:50:03
42.   underdog
37 Loved your work in "Bob in Real Life" though. Superb!
2008-01-30 10:50:55
43.   regfairfield
So how about that Juan Pierre?
2008-01-30 10:50:59
44.   cargill06
how does annibal sanchez, harvey garcia, hanley rameriez, jesus delgado compare in '05 to what prospects we have now, becuase i bet boston was pretty happy with that trade (i know they got more than the expected out of lowell)
2008-01-30 10:51:47
45.   cargill06
44 not trying to re-visit the argument, just curious.
2008-01-30 10:52:37
46.   underdog
38 I agree. I thought that's what the Twins were gonna do, wait til mid Season when teams get more desperate and then you cash in. Of course, I don't all the behind the scenes stuff about Santana and what he was demanding except that he wanted this resolved in some way soon. But the Twins look like a team that overplayed their hand, waited too long and then rushed into a decision. Not to say that this might not still pay off well for them down the road, if some of these prospects pan out. You also wonder why they couldn't have asked for a ML-ready player from the Mets. Maybe they did. Ah well, I stopped caring about 20 hours ago.
2008-01-30 10:54:46
47.   Jon Weisman
41 - I think it's worthwhile placing the relevance of not getting Santana in context.
2008-01-30 10:54:57
48.   fanerman
Hey regfairfield. Where does the name regfairfield come from?
2008-01-30 10:57:10
49.   silverwidow
Dodgers release DJ Houlton so he may play in Japan

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/team/transactions.jsp?c_id=la

2008-01-30 11:03:37
50.   Humma Kavula
The Five Oscar Nominees in Timmermannland:

"No Country for Old Bob" -- extra-bleak interpretation of the novel, in which an assassin named Toomuch Sugar comes to the L.A. library.

"There Will Be Bob" -- extra-bleak interpretation of Upton Sinclair novel, in which a librarian starts his own lending firm, much to the chagrin of the good citizens of Los Angeles. Features the quotable line, "If I weren't lactose intolerant, I would have drunk your milkshake. I would have drunk it up."

"Robert Timmermann" -- when the chief librarian gets into hot water, he needs his "fixer" to find the reference that will save him from jail.

"Bob" -- The first male pregnancy.

"Atonnemennt" -- Period romannce about a mann determinned to stick superfluous Ns where they arenn't nneeded.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-01-30 11:08:35
51.   Marty
27 On my PC I call that program with juanpierre.pl
2008-01-30 11:11:06
52.   regfairfield
48 An episode of Boy Meets World. A friend of the Dad's comes to visit and kept introducing himself with the line "It's me Reg, Reginald Fairfield!"
2008-01-30 11:13:22
53.   ToyCannon
50
A great DT moment.
2008-01-30 11:13:44
54.   Bob Timmermann
50
But I'm not lactose intolerant.
2008-01-30 11:16:16
55.   Humma Kavula
54 Too bad. That gets in the way of a good joke.

I'm also not sure I have the right word there. Is it "drunk" or "drank?"

2008-01-30 11:16:26
56.   fanerman
52 Ah. A Boy Meets World reference. I remember those TGIF days.

54 There was some artistic license.

2008-01-30 11:16:55
57.   Gen3Blue
37 I didn't realize that, sorry to hear it.

I think DJ deserves a chance to pitch full time--best of luck to him.

The dealing over Haren,Bedard and Santana have made me think a lot about pitching and the apparent shortage of good starters. My feelings about the costs and uncertainty of long term contracts for pitchers limits the way to obtain them to: 1) develop your own 2) trade for pitchers under control for a few years 3) Find veterans willing to take a short contract( Maddox,good; Wolf, not so good). Is this enough?

2008-01-30 11:21:42
58.   Bob Timmermann
I wonder where Houlton will end up. Most of the Japanese teams have signed their quota of foreign players. Chunichi, the defending champs, seem to be the only team with a slot open.

Houlton would probably pitch pretty well in Japan if he can make the cultural adjustment. He throws a lot harder than most Japanese pitchers.

2008-01-30 11:22:17
59.   bhsportsguy
44 If they are happy with Julio Lugo rather than a much better (at least offensively) and cheaper Hanley Ramirez, so be it.

I am sure you could selectively pick good and bad deals and ask if the teams are happier or sadder in hindsight.

As I look at this off season, I am more and more convinced of two things:
1. The Dodgers are planning to use their system to supplement their team first rather than use them as chips to make deals. This especially is true with the players on the MLB roster and their closest to the big leagues players (LaRoche, Abreu, Hu, Kershaw).
2. The gap between their ready for the big league talent and their second group of players was too great in the eyes of other major league teams, so that they could not use them to make equitable deals.

What I mean is that, teams were going to ask for the top players from the Dodgers and once that got rebuffed, there were either injury questions, talent questions, position shortages and age issues that made it hard to close the deal.

A year ago, Scott Elbert was probably a name that every team asked about but now they are waiting to see how he looks in ST. Bryan Morris could have been a very valuable piece if he had a good second year but he had TJ surgery. James McDonald, great year but is it just a one time thing. Meloan, is he a closer or a starter? DeWitt, where can he play in the field and does he have enough power? Josh Bell, still a little raw and young.

And the Dodgers 2007 draft picks and free agent signees are still a few months away from being eligible to be dealt.

I do think that the time will come when the Dodgers will become more active with either dealing some of their youth for MLB roster help or filling gaps in their system. But for now, I think the Dodgers enter 2008 with a MLB roster that can compete and a minor league system with lots of things to examine once April rolls around.

2008-01-30 11:26:34
60.   Kevin Lewis
59

Lugo-- I found it hilarious that one of the screen shots for the new MLB2K8 game is of Julio Lugo. All the other shots are of Papelbon, Peavy, Manny, etc, and then there is Julio Lugo

2008-01-30 11:27:53
61.   bhsportsguy
58 First MBT, now D.J., whose next?
2008-01-30 11:32:15
62.   cargill06
59 i think they'd much rather have beckett than hanley.
2008-01-30 11:34:50
63.   Xeifrank
Did Santana have some sort of no-trade clause or was he using the leverage of pending free agency to only get traded to a certain list of teams that would negotiate a long term lucrative deal with him upon the trade? vr, Xei
2008-01-30 11:36:08
64.   Suffering Bruin
I'm watching my students take a final exam. I get paid for this. Sometimes, teaching is okay.

Clayton Kershaw and Juan Pierre for Johan Santana.

I'm sorry, I just can't get that out of my head and I wanted to share.

2008-01-30 11:36:32
65.   Xeifrank
TC, left you a message. Were those seats you got the best available? Could you have gotten better seats if you only bought two?
I assume you are a season ticket holder and were able to purchase your 16 ticket allotment. vr, Xei
2008-01-30 11:37:25
66.   fanerman
64 That's crossed my head before. But there's no way the Twins would take on Juan's salary.
2008-01-30 11:37:55
67.   regfairfield
62 Why would you think that? If you took Hanley off shortstop he'd be one of the three best players in the game (as opposed to 7th or so).
2008-01-30 11:39:15
68.   Jon Weisman
New post up top.

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