posted at 12/5/2007 7:41 PM EST
The problem as I see it with a Johan Santana trade is that we begin to resemble the Yankees of the past decade. We begin to become (a) attached to long term, monster contracts, and (b) we deplete our farm system, meaning that (c) the only way to improve in the future is through expensive, chancy free-agency than through organizational development. Compound these tensions with the fact that Johan Santana, as special a player as he is, (a) had a down year which could presage a drop-off in his recent dominance, and (b) has terrible splits at Fenway. Some have argued on these pages that the splits don't matter as the Sox are a potent line-up and a hitter's park, but I think that is not entirely so. His era against the Sox at the Metrodome (2.7) is almost five 5 (FIVE) points lower than it is at Fenway (7.5), where power lefties have historically been less efficient. These two factors give me tremendous pause in the wisdom of acquiring a player which will force a 6 yr 150 mil. contract in order to waive his no trade clause.
Conversely, the Tigers have traded for Cabrera and Willis, giving them the deepest line-up in baseball, and the only way to beat great hitting is with great pitching and defense. So, are the Sox forced to pull the trigger on Santana? I still think the answer is "NO!" Again, as great as Santana is, this is not fantasy baseball, but real life. Great statistical players do not a champion make (see earlier Yankee's reference). Young players inject life into veteran teams which lag in August. They inject the fans with interest, they are fighting for their future livlihoods when the vet's already have it made in the shade. Furthermore, they are extremely valuable as fill-ins' for the inevitable injuries which occur during the 6 months of the year we all love so well (although I wonder if some of us aren't even more excited by the hotstove). My point is this: Without Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lester, Papelbon and even Buchholz (whose no-hitter and bullpen work in August and early Sept. were HUGE!) the Sox don't win the Series... of course, they don't win if they don't trade Hanley Ramirez and Anibel Sanchez (no-hitter) to the Marlins for Beckett and Lowell. There are clearly two sides to the argument, but two years ago they refused to part with both Pedroia and Ramirez (good thing), this year they are refusing to part with both Ellsbury and Buchholz. After watching these two electric rooks and the impact they had on the team, I couldn't agree with that more. Buch looks like a future Cy Young winner and Jacoby looks like a guy who's going to make 5 all star teams in the next 10 years and will probably get 4 or 5 gold gloves while leading the American League in steals (if the Sox let him run free... YES he is faster than Granderson, sheeet, he makes Grandy look like he has cement shoes!).
If the sox have to make a trade, I submit Dan Haren as the proper piece. He's under control for 3 years at less than the price of 1 year of Santana (16.7mil/3 yrs). He's only 25, still improving! Will get better working with Schill and Farrelly. Is right handed (good for Fenway). Is also a power pitcher who gets into the 7th and 8th innings. Will get much higher value/win and will cost less in prospects (provided there is some way to get Oakland to take Coco... although working out a trade with Oakland is not a cinch, they would not try to get either Buch or Jacoby).
All that said, this is a subjective analysis by a fan who is biased toward youth and energy over age and potential injury and perceives these mammoth contracts as a problem rather than a salvation. I would rather watch the players develop than trade them away. And for anyone who makes Santana-Pedro analogies I have 2 things to say (1) Santana cannot hold Pedro's jock and (2) Brian Rose, Tony Armas, Jr. and Carl Pavano (the pieces considered for the Pedro trade) are NO WHERE CLOSE to the quality of Buch and Jacoby (blue-chippers) or even Lester (already a quality major league starter who is only starting to get back from CANCER!!!), so comparing the trades from that standpoint is just plain silly, so please don't do it anymore.
p.s. if they do trade for Santana we will get treated to the most electrifying stuff since Pedro in '98!