“The Twins Are Laughing”

That’s what Jon Heyman said about the deadline that Hank the Tank set yesterday. I don’t think they are right, because unless they head down to Tampa and apologize to Hank for not trading Santana sooner, I think the Yankees will get out of this tonight. With Pettitte back in the fold, the Yankees don’t have the same hole in their starting rotation they did yesterday. Would they still love Santana, of course, but they also might be willing to see if Bedard or Haren are available.

Stay tuned, it should be an interesting night.

Phillips DFA’ed

The Yankees have officially announced Jose Molina’s contract (2 years/$4 million) and to make room for him they designated Andy Phillips for assignment. Phillips didn’t have a role on this team in 2008, Duncan and Betemit have passed him, so it makes sense.

The Yankees still have Rivera and Rodriguez to announce which will require two more subtractions from the 40-man, unless of course they send Cabrera and Hughes to Minnesota, in which case it will only be one.

Yes!

Great news, Andy Pettitte is coming back in ’08.

Obviously, this solves a huge problem and if the Yankees get Santana, their rotation would be a real strength heading into the season.

But, even without Santana, the Yankees now have options. They can go to some form of six-man rotation to keep the kids from racking up too many innings or they can choose to mix and match as needed. Replacing Pettitte’s 215 innings would have been very difficult, thankfully the Yankees won’t have to.

Now they need to bolster the bullpen.

Some Good News??

Well, the Yankees obviously took my advice and set a deadline with the Twins.

Furthermore, Fox reports that Santana will only agree to a trade now, so Minnesota cannot drag this out indefinitely.

And, the Yankees apparently won’t give into the Twins request for Kennedy, Horne or Jackson as the third part of this trade, so I would guess he isn’t coming to New York.

Just prepare yourself for what that means. It means a risky rotation in 2008 and the potential for Boston to have Santana and Beckett at the top of theirs. I said it in a comment earlier this week, but I think the only way any of us walk away from this thinking we won is if Santana stays in Minnesota or goes to the NL.

My Turn to Feel Sick

ESPN is reporting that the Red Sox have agreed to include Jacoby Ellsbury in a trade for Johan Santana. As part of that concession, they have also told the Twins they will not include both Ellsbury and Jon Lester in any deal. It’s either/or.

As George Constanza once said “the dance continues.”

This decision to offer up Ellsbury makes my stomach turn a bit. Like Peter said, you don’t know what a prospect will turn out to be until years later, but I just don’t like this idea. I’m hoping Theo Epstein is playing poker here and is pulling the bluff of the century. No matter what their intentions, the Red Sox have to stay in this process. As the ESPN article points out, if one of the two teams, (Bos or NYY) pulls out of the running, the Twins will have effectively lost their leverage. In order that the Yankees don’t get Santana for a song, the Red Sox are obligated to stay in the running.

If the Red Sox are serious and the Twins accept their altered offer, get used to Coco Crisp in CF for the next 2 seasons. Not a horrible thought from a defense and base running standpoint, but not so great from an offensive production standpoint.

ESPN says they expect Santana will be dealt within the next 72 hours. If the Red Sox “lose” expect they to be a major player for Danny Haren.

The Last Time The Twins Traded An Ace

He was 29, left-handed and had already won 112 games in the bigs. He was coming off of a Cy Young award and was one of the best pitchers in the game.

The main part of the package for him was one of the brightest prospects in the game having gone 12-4 with a 1.80ERA the previous season at AAA with 143 K’s in 160 innings. He had made a nice start in the bigs the season before and entered the season with a decent chance to make the team out of camp. It didn’t happen to the howls from the fans, but he continued his dominance at AAA going 7-4 with a 2.37 and 69K’s in 87 innings. He had struggled in the majors after getting called up in July, but on that fateful trading deadline in 1989, there was no doubt that this guy would be a future star.

The Minnesota pitcher was Frank Viola of course who went to the Mets for five players Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, Tim Drummond, Jack Savage and the aforementioned prospect, David West.

I was thinking about that deal today when I thought more about Hughes. I went back and read some news reports from the late 80’s to check my memory and I think it is fair to compare the hype for Hughes today with the hype for West then. He was going to be the next big thing, the guy who would sit atop the Mets rotation and provide a dominant lefty to go alongside Dwight Gooden. (how’s that for irony?)

But, the 1989 Mets were not patient. Injuries to Keith Hernandez and Dwight Gooden had them struggling along in late July and after their playoff loss in 88, they wanted to get back to October, so they pulled the trigger on their second blockbuster of the season. (In June they had sent Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to Philadelphia for Juan Samuel)

Viola won 38 games for the Mets in almost 2 1/2 seasons before getting 3 years/$14 million from the Red Sox in free agency.

West ended up winning 31 games in his career and was out of baseball after pitching two innings for the 1998 Red Sox. The Twins definitely won the trade because Tapani became a big part of the rotation and Aguilera became one of the best closers in baseball.

I am not saying that history will repeat itself if the Yankees send Hughes to Minnesota for Santana, but I wanted to relate that tale for those of you preparing to climb out onto the ledge. If this trade happens, the way to judge it will be down the road when we see what happens with both teams. If the Yankees win the World Series because of Santana, will you really care what happens with Hughes? In 1989 it certainly looked like Viola would lead the Mets to the World Series and it didn’t happen. Likewise, it was thought West was the best part of the trade and he wasn’t. Our perceptions today could be very wrong, on both sides.

Timlin Back in the Fold

The Boston Globe reported today that the Red Sox have agreed to a 1 year, $3mm deal with reliever Mike Timlin.

Timlin will be 42 when camp breaks, but he has managed to remain productive in recent years. I say every year that this is Timlin’s last, but he keeps coming back. Somewhere back in 2006, I lost faith in Mike Timlin and really haven’t gotten it back completely. His World Series game 4 appearance did restore some of my faith (0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K) but just how long can Timlin keep this up?

His 2007 regular season stat line was fine, but I just get an uneasy feeling when he enters a game.

As Peter mentioned in his last post, the Yankees have reportedly decided to offer Philip Hughes (if nec) in any potential Johan Santana deal. That probably puts them as the best possible position to get Santana. I hope the Red Sox are not intent on offering up either Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury.

I mentioned this in a comment on Peter’s post, but ESPN’s Buster Olney theorized on Friday that perhaps both the Red Sox and Yankees hope the other team “wins” the Santana sweepstakes as the cost is just so high.

Winter Meetings start on Monday!