The Santana winners

Wanted to wait to blog on the Johan Santana trade into I talked to an  acquaintance of mine in the baseball industry. Three guesses as to what his initial assessment of the deal was?

1) Santana will dominate even more than he normally does, because National League hitters are unfamiliar with him, and Santana already owns hitters in the American League who have faced him. 2) Santana’s upside will be 25 wins. His downside will be 22 wins. 3) The Mets made this deal to win a World Series this year.

Well, duh. Isn’t that we’re all saying?

Then, this person told me something I wasn’t prepared to hear. He said the Twins may not have been fleeced as bad as you think. Seems that one of the pitchers Minnesota received in the deal is considered a can’t-miss stud. I am always skeptical when I hear such a thing, and the fact that Deolis Guerra is only 18 and hasn’t been above Single-A only adds to it. But I trust this person’s evaluation of talent, and he says that the Twins won’t be crying in a few years.

As for now, plenty of Minnesota fans will be angry, and perhaps they should be. But not because bringing back Santana would’ve enabled the Twins to contend. Minnesota was in a situation similar to the A’s in that they probably would’ve entered the campaign as the third- or fourth-best team in the division.

Instead, the reason for unhappiness among the Twins faithful should have to do with what the Twins could’ve had and what they wound up getting. As Buster Olney wrote on ESPN.com, this was probably the fourth-best deal they could’ve swung. In the end, they were enticed with offers for Yankees pitchers Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes and outfielder Melky Cabrera; Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and wound up with none of them. They’ll spend years wondering if they should’ve pulled the trigger on this deal back in the winter meetings.

Have some sympathy for new Twins general manager Mike Smith, however. It wouldn’t be easy for a veteran GM to navigate trade waters that include the Yankees and Red Sox potentially bidding against each other. For a rookie to be asked such a thing is not fair.

Then again, baseball is a lot like life, and nobody said life is fair.

Incidentally, the Mets will find a way to sign Santana to an extension. If they don’t, their GM Omar Minaya would have to go into hiding.