Sunday, January 30, 2005

Santana in 2006 

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has already named the Twins Opening Day starter. Of course, its 2005 Cy Young winner Johan Santana, right? Wrong. It will be longtime Twin ace Brad Radke.

Radke summed up everybody's thought on this move nicely. "You're darn right I am (surprised)," Radke said. "I don't know what they (the coaching staff) are thinking. I pretty much thought Johan was going to start it up."

Johan, to his credit, is saying all the right things. "He deserves it," Santana said of Radke. "He's the man. He's been doing that for a long time, so I don't see why he shouldn't keep doing it. I have no complaints."

While Santana is saying the right things now, this has got to feel like just another in a long line of slaps in the face that Johan has taken from the Twins (starting 2002 in the minors, Kenny Rogers sending him to bullpen in 2003), and that at the end of 2006 when he is eligible for free agency, he will bolt to greener pastures.

The Twins are already trying to sign Santana to a contract extension but their opening offer of 3 years, $19.5 million is a joke. An article in the Minnesota Star-Tribune on the negotiations highlights Santana's viewpoint.
And there is this problem that looms over the negotiations: Several people close to Santana say he has not been happy with several decisions made by the Twins, including starting him in the minors in 2002 and having him begin the 2003 season in the bullpen. Those decisions already have affected him financially, because career starts is a key factor in arbitration.
So it appears to me that the Twins will be looking to get big time value for Johan Santana at some point before the 2006 trade deadline. Since the Twins will likely be competitive in the uber-weak AL Central, the best time for the Twins to make a move might be before the 2006 season, so that the trade can be spun as a building block, and not a "giving up on 2006" trade deadline deal.

The M's should spend 2005 finding out what Mariner prospects and players interest the Twins and plan on dealing them to the Twins for Johan Santana after the 2005 season. Would you trade King Felix for Johan Santana? How about Jeremy Reed, Clint Nageotte and Rafael Soriano? While you ponder what you would be willing to spend, and what it will take to land Santana, its never too late to start rooting against the Twins in 2005. If they fail to make the playoffs in 2005, it will make it that much easier for them to cry "Rebuild!" in the offseason and start that process by dealing Santana for MLB ready youngsters like Reed, Lopez, Nageotte, Blackley, etc...

I know that you'll agree with me that Johan Santana would look awfully good taking the mound for your Seattle Mariners on Opening Day 2006.

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