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Could have, should have?

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff May 9, 2008 08:45 AM

See, everybody’s happy.

The Twins, Red Sox, Mets. All good.

The Yankees, meanwhile, still have Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes.

They’re probably not as psyched.

Hughes and Kennedy were the centerpieces that the Twins reportedly demanded from the Yankees in exchange for All-Star pitcher Johan Santana last winter, a deal the Yankees balked on with the bright futures of the staff ready to come into focus. Both figured to star in 2008, as the Yankees became the Red Sox of 2007, a veteran team sparked by young talent.

Kennedy is back in the minors after going 0-2 with an 8.37 ERA. Hughes sneezed and broke a rib. He was 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA prior.

And the news keeps getting brighter in the Bronx. Kei Igawa and his kickin’ shades get the call tonight in Detroit. Future’s so bright indeed.

For the Twins though, it's so far, so good, with what they got in return for Santana. Carlos Gomez has burst on the scene in Minnesota at the age of 22, and the center fielder is starting to show Twins fans why Red Sox fans became so enamored with the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury last season.

Red Sox fans are quite obviously ecstatic that Ellsbury isn't playing in the Twin Cities full-time these days. The Twins chose to go with the Mets' package of prospects for the All-Star lefty, and though he has to share time in the outfield with Coco Crisp, it's a virtual certainty that by late summer he'll supplant Crisp as the everyday guy.

La Velle E. Neal III writes in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Red Sox fans are in love with Ellsbury, who's batting .290 with a .397 on-base percentage. Twins fans seem to feel the same way about Carlos Gomez, who is the top prospect of the four the Twins received from the Mets for Santana. Both are fast -- each has 13 stolen bases -- but Gomez is faster. Both have good offensive potential, but Ellsbury is more polished and disciplined. Both have been electrifying at times, with Ellsbury batting .438 in last fall's World Series against Colorado and taking off from there, and Gomez hitting for the cycle on Wednesday.

Things could have been very different heading into this weekend. In a parallel world, Santana could have been standing on the mound in Minnesota tonight – for Boston – possibly going up against Jon Lester, who was part of combination plate A that Theo Epstein offered to Minnesota last winter for Santana, along with Crisp and Jed Lowrie. Ellsbury could have haunted the Red Sox by chasing down balls hit into the expanses of the Metrodome. Lowrie could have made Red Sox fans wonder why they have to endure another three years of Julio Lugo when he was climbing the farm ladder.

OK, so Lowrie DOES make Sox fans wonder why they have to endure another three years of Lugo.

The Red Sox are in first place to start 2008 partly by virtue of the deal they didn't make. Ellsbury's star continues to shine in Boston, Lester has started to put it together lately, including his best start to date (an eight-inning, one-hit no-decision against the Blue Jays), and Lowrie was a much-needed presence in the lineup when Mike Lowell went down with a thumb injury. The Twins, too, find themselves atop the AL Central, but there will indeed be focus on certain Sox players this weekend. Only Gomez has made an impact thus far in Minnesota, where they wait and see what becomes of Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra down the line.

Meanwhile, Lester, Ellsbury, Lowrie, or maybe even Clay Buchholz could have all been there now.

Gomez struggled out of the gate. The 22-year-old hit just .230 before being benched for a game. Since then, he's tore up the field at a .400 clips, and even hit for the cycle earlier this week. But then, there's Ellsbury, an emerging talent that opens more eyes every time he steps to the plate, the very reason why most Sox fans were so anxious about surrendering him for only the best lefty in the game.

At the time the deal was made, many baseball talking heads scolded the Twins for accepting what was deemed a lesser package than what the Red Sox or the (ahem) Yankees had offered. Maybe. In terms of immediate, let's-win-it-this-season talent, the Twins might have found themselves better off with either Package A or B from the Red Sox. They could also have the worst record in baseball if they went with Hughes, Kennedy, and Melky Cabrera.

"We liked the trade when we made it, but it's not a trade that can be pronounced good or bad after one month, or one year," Twins GM Bill Smith told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "This is a deal we made for our future."

Few do dealing for the future better than the Twins, despite what the inane ramblings of Ask Men's Dave Golokhov will have you believe, landing them at No. 7 in his list of the Top 10 worst franchises in sports (Hey, the Bruins at No. 6).

"The Twins constantly sell proven veterans for prospects and draft picks, but when those youngsters finally develop, they get shipped away to start the cycle again. The Twins incessantly look to the future and winning now is not a priority. Translation: the Twins care more about the dollars than about winning."

We'll let Fire Joe Morgan handle it from here:

Twins win totals, 2002-2006: 94, 90, 92, 83, 96. Four division titles in five years. You're telling me that a team that won four division titles in a five year stretch ending in 2006 is the seventh worst franchise in all of sports?...

So...you're bashing them for being "cheap" and following a "Moneyball" philosophy, because in 2002, with the 4th lowest payroll in the sport, they got all the way to the *&^%$# ALCS. They were one of the 4 best teams in the league that year. And another one of the best teams was the Oakland A's, about whom the book "Moneyball" was written.

You know who didn't make it as far as the $41m Twins that year? The $132m Yankees, or the $108m Red Sox, or the $105m Rangers, or the $103m DBacks, or the $101m Dodgers. And this means the Twins are a bad franchise?

Congratulations! That is bone-dumb.

Agreed. But you can't make everyone happy. Can't wait to watch that cool cat Igawa.

43 comments so far...
  1. Why are you including Buchholz as someone the Twins could have had? He was never offered by the Red Sox.

    Posted by Tom May 9, 08 12:08 PM
  1. Carlos Gomez looks great and I'm not taking anything away from what he could do in the future when I say that his cycle was bullcrap. His double was deemed a double with a one-base error when it either should've been a triple or a single with a two-base error. Of course, why we would look at a guy hitting a HR, two triples, and a single as worse than the cycle says something about us fans, but it was still bullcrap scoring.

    Posted by J-Bone May 9, 08 12:44 PM
  1. i dont know much about gomez but is he is really definitively faster than ellsbury? just curious, how do you know that?

    Posted by mike d May 9, 08 01:48 PM
  1. I would have been sooooo mad if they traded Jacoby, he is so hot. I love sitting in the monster seats wearing my pink Ellsbury jersey that matches my hat. I hope to run into him at Game On while I am having my Stoli Vanilla and Diet Coke. I hear the players have been going there 4eva!!! It was a great non-trade. It reminds me of when I almost traded my Sex and the City dvds for some thigh high Aldo black boots, how much would I have regretted that!! The same goes for the Sox.

    Posted by Caroline P. Hat May 9, 08 01:54 PM
  1. fun article to read.

    We like Gomez...we now say "Torri who?"

    The only veteran we let go that we really wish we had back is, of course, David Ortiz. Can't win 'em all.

    Posted by Twins Fan May 9, 08 01:59 PM
  1. Waaay too early to call Kennedy or Hughes a bust. If they turn out to be consistent 15-17 game winners then I guess the 'non deal' will benefit the Yanks as well. Not to mention they were able to retain Melky as well

    Posted by Jeff May 9, 08 02:36 PM
  1. Twins Fan - really? You turn on Tori Hunter just like that? Look what he's doing in LA. His departure was inevitable, there shouldn't be any ill will toward him. If anything, blame management for refusing to pay their players. You can embrace your new boy Gomez without insulting Tori's memory in your city.

    And I'd like to see Gomez/Ellsbury have a race, it would be close. Hell, throw in Clay, he's supposedly faster than Jacoby.

    By the way, Caroline P. Hat - well played

    Posted by AK (NYC) May 9, 08 02:42 PM
  1. "The Twins constantly sell proven veterans for prospects and draft picks,"

    They do? When did they change the rule that allows teams to trade draft picks? Obviously, Dave Golokhov is a sports writer with a bright future.

    Posted by Ken-Hingham,Ma May 9, 08 03:18 PM
  1. I believe Gomez is faster, which doesn't take anything away from Ellsbury. He has many infield hits and bunts for singles...which also mean Gomez wouldn't be hitting anywhere near as high as he is if he didn't have speed.

    As for his cycle, I believe the error was on the throw, which resulted in him getting from 2nd to 3rd.

    Posted by Andrew May 9, 08 03:35 PM
  1. Kennedy stinks
    Hughes stinks
    Yankees stink.

    Posted by Butch May 9, 08 03:38 PM
  1. Mike D,
    Gomez ran a 4.29 40-yard dash. I haven't seen too much of Ellsbury so I can't really compare. All I know is Gomez is the fastest guy I've ever seen.

    Posted by Paul H May 9, 08 03:57 PM
  1. If Gomez is legitimately faster than Ellsbury, the dude must be able to travel backwards in time. Ellsbury's wheels are flat out ridiculous.

    Posted by J.P. May 9, 08 04:05 PM
  1. Jacoby runs a 4.2-4.3 40 yard dash...and you're telling me that Gomez is significantly faster? no way...and yeah, Buchholz is the fastest player for the Sox

    Posted by G May 9, 08 04:15 PM
  1. J-Bone
    Im assuming you didnt see the game live. The error when Gomez got a double was on Swisher not Quentin because Gomez rounded 2nd and stopped. However Swisher tried to back up the play, he dropped the ball allowing Gomez to gain 3rd.

    Posted by Ry (MN) May 9, 08 04:15 PM
  1. I enjoyed the article, it really is interesting to see how a trade can be condemned or exalted on Day One, but days, months, or even years later can look the opposite way (AJ Pierzysnki for Liriano, Bonser, and Joe Nathan anyone?) It kind of reminds me of the pundits talking about the NFL draft, but thats a whole 'nother topic.

    That being said ...

    Caroline P. Hat - You sound like every other pink jersey, green hat wearing fake 'red sox nation' member out there. I applaud you. It gives us just one more joke to tell at your expense. I feel bad for the Red Sox faithful, their team has become just like the New York Bandwagon, full of fans who have never watched a game or thought 'Thats just Manny being Manny'

    We now say "Torii who" because we have a faster defender with a better arm who is learning the game of defensive baseball. We will miss the clubhouse leadership as well as the 20+ homers but Gomez's defense, speed, and sky-high ceiling are worth more to me, especially considering the $88 million or so in salary difference...

    Posted by Twins Cheap Seat Regular May 9, 08 04:16 PM
  1. Actually, Ellsbury ran the 40 yard dash in 4.2 seconds(see link), so he is definitely faster than Gomez (doesn't mean Gomez isn't ridiculously fast himself). Buchholz is faster than Ellsbury but the Sox won't let them race.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2007/07/03/fast_becoming_a_real_favorite/

    Posted by Peter May 9, 08 04:20 PM
  1. whoever wrote posted that comment under the pseudonym Carolin P.Hat, thanks for making laugh this afternoon. That was an absolute riot and its a sad truth to know that stuff like that actually happens while diehard fans are stuck commenting on a blog and debating whether Jocoby Ellsbury or Carlos Gomez is faster...

    Posted by Jon Beerhoff May 9, 08 04:28 PM
  1. We'll see who ends up with more steals Gomez or Ellsbury, I'm betting Gomez!

    Posted by Mark29 May 9, 08 04:49 PM
  1. I love the Twins fan coming in and bashing Caroline P. Hat not realizing that the post was a complete joke and a play on Pink Hat Nation. Almost as funny as the original post. Good show.

    Posted by J.P. May 9, 08 04:53 PM
  1. I've never really understood the problem people have with fans wearing green redsox hats. They used to actually wear green hats on St. Patrick's day every year. Then, the new ownership added the green hat and shirt tradition to the spring training game. Maybe a little over the top, but the green hats have been around a long time.
    I can understand the argument that some "fans" just buy the green hat 'cuz its cool, or their great grandfather was Irish, but why should this denounce all other sox fans who might actualy be from Ireland, or raised by Irish imigrants?
    Can someone clear this up for everyone?

    Posted by Will Coleman May 9, 08 04:57 PM
  1. Eric, Nice entry on your blog. It is great the Sox trade didn't go through and you're right - three of the four teams are quite happy.

    Posted by Lance May 9, 08 05:15 PM
  1. As a female Red Sox fan, I just have to say that Caroline P. does not represent us well. GO SOX!

    Posted by Jen May 9, 08 05:23 PM
  1. How dare you take a shot at me Cheap Seat Twin Fan. I am a proud card carrying member of Red Sox Nation. I am like all true die hard Sox fans who love not just doing the wave, but waving to the camera to show everyone at home where I am sitting and what I am wearing. I might ruin the mani/pedi I just got a G2O Spa on Newbury Street typing this but I had to do it. As the lyrics from the age old traditional Red Sox theme song "Sweet Caroline" goes it is "So Good...So Good" to be a member of Red Sox Nation!!

    Posted by Caroline P. Hat May 9, 08 05:30 PM
  1. "Things could have been very different heading into this weekend. In a parallel world, Santana could have been standing on the mound in Minnesota tonight – for Boston – possibly going up against Jon Lester, who was part of combination plate A that Theo Epstein offered to Minnesota last winter for Santana, along with Crisp and Jed Lowrie. Ellsbury could have haunted the Red Sox by chasing down balls hit into the expanses of the Metrodome."

    This scenario turns my stomach. Thank You baseball gods

    Posted by Tim May 9, 08 05:52 PM
  1. Twins cheat, I forgot you have to have suffered through at least 50 of the last 100 years to be a sox fan. Maybe we should treat them like illegal aliens to Red Sox nation. We could do an amnesty just once then after that seal the borders. Suffer suffer you must suffer first......Go figure.

    Posted by Tim May 9, 08 06:01 PM
  1. Twins Cheap Seat when Gomez is at the point he can make more money the Twins will get rid of him too.

    Posted by Sox fan for life May 9, 08 06:44 PM
  1. No human has ever run a 4.2. So, apparently the Sox have the two fastest humans that have ever lived. What luck!

    Posted by John in SoCal May 9, 08 06:49 PM
  1. YANKEES FANS ARE IN LOVE WITH HANK STEINBRENNER WILL YOU GET
    NEW PLAYERS NAME IS JOHAN SANTANA YOU PLAY YANKEES HOW B HAPPY FOR KIDS GIVE FUN TALK TO SANTANA

    Posted by THOMAS AMELL May 9, 08 06:49 PM
  1. Terrible rankings on that article. The Twins have at least won a couple Championships in the last 20 years. They definitely have one of the 10 worst owners in sports, but that doesn't make them a bad franchise.

    BTW, I'm not sure anybody is DEFINITELY faster than Ellsbury. 22 for 22 in steals in his career tells me that Ellsbury has PLENTY of speed.

    Do you think the Yankees would rather start Johan Santana or Igawa tonight?

    Posted by MC May 9, 08 07:12 PM
  1. Anyone that is, what I call a student of the game of baseball does not take long to figure out that most reporters, talk show hosts and fans are not are not very knowledgeable. I'll bet that less than 5% of those listed above have ever bothered to read the baseball rule book. This pertains especially to the fair weather fans that are on the bandwagon only because the Red Sox are winning on a regular basis.
    I wonder what type of fans they would be if they were following the Red Sox during the 50's and 60's. Most of the time, Fenway Park was nearly empty. Only a few players kept the real fans coming back. Names like Williams, Pesky, DiMaggio, Doerr, Jensen and Piersall just to name a few. The answer is NOT MANY. The way the press and fans treat the players and become Monday morning quarterbacks makes me sick.I could go on and on but I think you get my gist,

    Signed,
    A Red Sox fan for 60 years and the owner of 4 well
    rule books

    Posted by J.R. May 9, 08 07:29 PM
  1. I don't think there's any ill will from most Twins fans towards Torii, I think that we're sad to see him go, I think the poster's comments were more indicating that it's an easier blow to take with this youngster there to provide a sparkplug in centerfield. After having watched nearly every Twins game so far this year, I must say that my favorite part of watching Gomez is not the havoc he causes on the bases or his stellar highlights in centerfield (and there have already been a couple that have been ridiculous). My favorite part is the intensity and joy with which this young man plays the game. He's like a little kid out there, reveling in each victory, personal and team, and taking every loss and failure very seriously. I dunno, it sounds trite and cliched, but it couldn't be any more true.

    Posted by Twins Fan in Boston May 9, 08 08:57 PM
  1. "Caroline P. Hat - You sound like every other pink jersey, green hat wearing fake 'red sox nation' member out there. I applaud you. It gives us just one more joke to tell at your expense."

    That entire post just went right over your head, didn't it?

    Posted by Don May 9, 08 09:39 PM
  1. C'mon Boston fans...take off your homer hats. Gomez is faster. No question about it.

    Posted by Gomez over Ellsbury All Day May 10, 08 12:31 AM
  1. WOW....one of the more "LAME" stories posted here in years....WAy to early to tell who won/lsot on this deal....keep drinkin the koolaid and writng tripe....no Pulitzer for journalism worries here!

    Posted by jmk0730@aol.com May 10, 08 12:32 AM
  1. The Red Sox are now the same as "The Yankees". Overpaid, hired-hands for the most part with a few key players who are young mixed in. Both teams pay way too much for their players and at least Yankees have a glorious history. The Red Sox have been losers for decades upon decades. Their luck has run dry, and real baseball teams like the Twins(with real fans) are the future of baseball. Just go to Fort Myers for Spring Training and you will see the difference between an up-and-coming team like the Twins with die-hard, polite and baseball savvy fans. Then, you have the overrpaid sox and their annoying, bleeding-heart, chowder-head fans who are rude, loud, obnoxious, and know very little about the game of baseball.

    Posted by WIN TWINS May 10, 08 01:05 AM
  1. I'd rather have Gomez at this point. He's more explosive than Ellsbury....plus he's on my fantasy team. GOTCHA!

    Posted by Mac May 10, 08 03:28 AM
  1. As a Red Sox fan, I can say that I'd prefer Julio Lugo over Jed Lowrie any day right now. Lowrie is phenomenal, but Lugo has the experience. Yeah, he's had a few error-prone games, but he's reliable on the field and generally at the plate.

    Posted by M. B. May 10, 08 07:35 AM
  1. As for the Lowrie reference, you're damn right he makes us wonder why we have to put up with Julio F%$@*ng Lugo!! The question is for how long are we gonna have to put up with this liability in the field? He had 19 errors last season, already has 11 this year and almost makes you want Renteria again. And I've never seen a major league hitter shy away from pitches like Lugo does. Is this guy afraid of the ball or what? He's not exactly an all-star with a bat either and just shows how stats can be misleading.
    Put Lowrie in there, or Alex Cora and let Lowrie learn from him. Just get Lugo out of there.

    Posted by B.Cas May 10, 08 09:03 AM
  1. Twins Cheap Seat regular's comment on Caroline P, Hat's satire demonstrates the cultural differences between the Northeast and the Midwest. Here's some reality, bud: Caroline is a guy. He has what is known as a sense of humor. He is mocking the new age Sox "fan", who knows nothing about baseball other than how much the ticket cost. His post demonstrates "satire" laced with "sarcasm". That you would take it at face value and use it as fodder for Sox jokes is called "irony". That you would ever say "Torii who" is just plain silly. We would never, ever say "Number 21, who's name shall not be mentioned who". Ever. Not even if our teenage daughter was giving a deposition.

    Posted by Dean Chance May 10, 08 09:13 AM
  1. the key to the trade or better non-trade is Ron Gardenhire,Scott Ullger, Jerry White and Rick Anderson. Regardless of the preceived talent players may or may not have this coaching staff makes them fit the program.

    note to caroline p. next time you have a stoli vanilla and diet coke try Absolute its much smoother.

    Posted by fridaysguy May 10, 08 09:33 AM
  1. Gomez has so many infield hits because he plays in the metrodome with infielders having to play back and the high hops off the turf. He is not faster than Jacoby!

    Posted by iamolina May 10, 08 12:04 PM

  1. I would like to know why the following are still members of the Red Sox: TIMLIN, TARVAREZ, & DELCARMON ? IN MY OPINION THEY ARE NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF "OUR WINNING TEAM" !!! I CRINGE WHEN THEY ARE PUT INTO THE GAME, KNOWING WE ARE GOING TO LOSE !!!!!!

    Posted by CAROL NOWLIN May 11, 08 11:54 PM
  1. So you guys are trying to spin it so it seems like having Coco Crisp, who's batting .317, would have been far worse than having Ellsbury?

    our rotation would have been:
    Santana
    Beckett
    Matsuzaka
    Lester
    Wakefield/Schilling/Colon

    Wow

    Posted by Nick May 12, 08 04:23 AM
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