Save Hughes. Save Joba. Save IPK. Save The Future

In the aftermath of the Garza-Young deal
Unreliable source: Sox frontrunners for Johan

Yesterday, we made our position clear: Save The Big Three. This was met with varying responses, most of which disagreed to one extent or another. It seems that most Yanks fans — surprise surprise — would like to see Johan Santana in pinstripes. Hell, count me among ’em. My problem is that I don’t want to see the Yankees dish any of the Big Three to get him, in which case a deal wouldn’t happen.

Now, before anyone else says, “You’d be an idiot not to trade IPK for Santana,” let’s be clear about something. A package centered around Ian Patrick Kennedy will not land Johan Santana. Period. Maybe before yesterday, when Matt Garza was still a Twin, there was an inkling of a chance the Yanks could pull off such a deal. Any chance that existed (probably none) is now gone. If the Yanks want Santana, it’s going to cost Joba or Hughes. If IPK is in the deal, it will be in addition to one of those two. This is why we need to save IPK.

When asked to choose which of the other two to dish, it appears the consensus is Hughes. I get that. The only knock on Joba before the season was his injury risk, but after he showed up to camp a bit lighter and after having a relatively healthy season (except when he caught the hamstring strain bug from Wang), he has quelled some of those concerns. At least relatively speaking, as we found out that Hughes, the invincible No. 1 pitching prospect in the game headed into the season (I’m not counting Dice-K), is also susceptible to injuries. Who knew?

So we’re talking Hughes and more for Santana. Jutting off on a tangent for a second, I would think that the Twins, given their recent transaction, would be looking for Horne and Austin Jackson, at least. With the acquisition of Jason Pridie, the immediate need for a center fielder is lessened. He’s not a world beater, but he can fill in adequately while the Twins wait on someone like Ajax. The Twins could still have interest in Melky, but I think that given the situation, we can leave him out of the conversation until we hear otherwise. And who knows: Maybe they want Tabata in the deal, too, instead of Horne — or on top of Horne. That changes the story, but for now let’s stick to Phil and Johan.

A message I’ve been trying to spread for the past few days is that extension or not, we would be trading for just one year of Santana. Yes, a trade would be contingent upon an agreement on an extension being reached, but it is still a separate entity. It’s what the Yankees would be paying for Santana, in theory, if he signed with them as a free agent after the 2008 season.

In essence, then, the players involved in the deal act as a twofold bribe to the Twins. First, the payment of prospects keeps Santana out of the hands of other teams. Second, it buys one year of contractual service. That’s it.

So is Phil Hughes and (Jose Tabata and/or Austin Jackson) and possibly Alan Horne and/or Melky worth keeping Santana out of the hands of other teams and receiving one year of his service?

I guess it depends on how you value Johan Santana. You can say “he’s the best pitcher in baseball” all day, and I’d probably bet on you in a shouting match. But nothing is that simple. If we knew that Johan would continue to be the best pitcher in baseball for the next five years, I’d even consider trading Joba. But we don’t (so I wouldn’t). And when you look at it, history doesn’t side with Santana.

As Jack Curry notes in his column for the Times yesterday, only three pitchers in history have been given deals exceeding $100 million: Kevin Brown, Mike Hampton, and Barry Zito. How, exactly did those work out — or for the last two, how are those deals working out — for the respective teams? We caught the last two years of the Brown deal, and they were a rarely-mitigated disaster. Hampton hasn’t pitched a goddamn competitive inning in the past two years, and mustered just 69.1 IP in 2005. He hasn’t pitched over 200 innings since the first year after the Rockies gave him that ludicrous contract. And he was terrible in that season, posting a 5.41 ERA (though league average was an enormous 5.32, thanks mostly to Barry Bonds). Zito didn’t deserve the deal in the first place, and posted a below-average ERA in the very first year of the deal.

This doesn’t mean that Santana will suffer the same fate, but it proves that the risk is there, and so far it’s 3-for-3 in favor of the bad guys.

Also, let us not forget the Mark Mulder trade, which might be the most apt comparison. Of course, Mulder wasn’t as dominant as Johan, but he posted an above-average ERA in every year from 2001 through 2004, many of those years well above average. But then in 2004 he showed signs of decline. His walk and home run rates rose, while his strikeouts dipped. He was dished after the season, and after one solid campaign with the Cardinals, the wheels fell off. He pitched just 93.1 wholly ineffective innings in 2006 — to the tune of a 7.14 ERA — before being injured, and pitched only 11 meaningless innings at the end of 2007, allowing 15 earned runs (4 gopher balls), walking seven and striking out just three.

Thankfully, strikeouts, walks, and home runs aren’t a huge concern for Santana. His strikeout rate actually rose from 06 to 07. His walk rate rose, but not to near a level of concern. And while his home rate spiked dramatically, 24 of his 33 homers allowed were of the one-run variety.

This isn’t to say that signs of decline are absent. In fact, as we’ve noted previously, his AVG/OBP/SLG numbers have increased from year-to-year since 2004.

2004: .192/.249/.315
2005: .210/.250/.346
2006: .216/.258/.360
2007: .225/.273/.405

Though, once again, the 24 solo shots factored a lot into the .405 slugging percentage.

So while we’re not seeing decline in the same places, per se, that we saw them in Mulder, the evidence is there, no matter how small it may be. Now we have Hampton, Brown, Zito, and Mulder as reasons the Yanks shouldn’t do it.

But for all the negative comparisons, there has to be a positive one out there, right? How about Pedro Martinez? The Red Sox traded Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. for him after the 1997 season, and it worked out marvelously. In fact, you can make an apt comparison between Pavano and Hughes.

Both were among the top pitching prospects in the game heading into their respective age 21 seasons. Both had solid minor league careers to that point, though Hughes struck out a ton more batters. Hughes also reached the bigs in his age 21 season, while Pavano spent it all in the minors.

Armas was a lesser-known quantity, having just finished his age-19 season — one he began in the Yankees organization — after 1997. He had a quality but brief track record in the Yanks farm system and his brief stint in Boston’s.

This brings us right back to the beginning. If I knew that Johan would pitch as well for the Yanks as Pedro did for the Sox, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. But what if he ends up like Kevin Brown, with two and a half dominant years, a solid year, and a bunch of time on the DL and serving up homers? Is it worth it then? Remember, too, that he could end up like Mike Hampton and need a cane to walk by the age of 32.

Just remember, when you’re saying that you should always trade prospects for established talent, and especially if it’s for the best pitcher in the game, there are two sides to the risk coin. By holding onto Hughes, the Yanks risk him going bust, and they’ll have lost out on the best pitcher in the game in the process. But by trading for Santana, the Yankees incur even more risk. They risk injury or general ineffectiveness from Johan (remember Sandy Koufax, too, for an example of a great career ending early) — and the stakes aren’t small at $163 million. They also risk trading away players who eventually trump Santana in value. Believe it or not, if both Hughes and Ajax pan out (no guarantees, of course), they together could be more valuable than Johan Santana.

I’m coming down on the side of keeping the prospects. Not for fear of making a bad move, but for the incredible risk involved. If we were talking just prospects and not $163 million, we might be having a dialogue. Same if we were talking money and not prospects. But when we’re talking both, I’m walking away.

Photo: Mark Blinch file / Reuters

In the aftermath of the Garza-Young deal
Unreliable source: Sox frontrunners for Johan
  • Chip

    I completely and utterly agree. I’m all for the trade if the Yankees give up something like a Kennedy/Melky/Horne but anything on top of that is very questionable. I think too many Yanks fans are excited about the idea of a two headed ace in Joba/Hughes to break that up. Honestly, I don’t see anybody trumping our offer other than the Dodgers and I’d let the Dodgers have him.

    • CJB

      As strange as it sounds, I too would like to see him go to the Dodgers. It would end the talks of losing Hughes, and we wouldn’t have to face him again. As good as he is, I have become attached to The Big Three and am so looking forward to watching them progress. Many people have said in the last couple of days that regardless of what happens, Santana will get an extension from whatever team he is on before the season is over.

      As we have seen and heard endlessly in the last decade plus, money is no object to the Yankees and the Steinbrenners. We would have to pay Johan a King’s ransom anyway, why not take the chance that he does in fact become a free agent and pay him then? If that doesn’t come into fruition, what is the harm done? We still have an incredibly bright future with a handful of dynamic young arms that could lead us back to the WS and become the face of the franchise post-Jeter. I realize that Hank wants to make a name for himself, but why can’t he be known as the guy that develops his players and doesn’t make extravegant deals just because he can?

  • bkight

    Great analysis. I think it is really a win-win situation. If the Twins take our offer then we get the best pitcher in baseball and exponentionally increase our chances of winning the WS the next couple of years. If they decline then we keep 3 great young pitchers that will help us for the next decade.

    Remember that with the Rule 5 draft you have to walk a fine line with the farm system. You have to use them or lose them(for nothing.) Some of the cuts this year will be tough. We can keep re-loading thru the draft but only for so long. I think the other clubs have figured out what the Yanks, Red Sox and Tigers have been doing the last few years with the late 1st round gems and compensation picks.

    • Jamal G

      With The Yankees and Tigers case its not necessarily late 1st round/compensation gems that they pick up but rather taking advantage of the fact that teams shy away from guys (pitchers mainly) that have signability issues or injury questions. For example look at Rick Porcello, Joba Chamberlain, and Andrew Brackman. Those 3 guys could have easily been top 10 picks (in Porcello’s case a top 3) but they werent because the Tigers werent afraid to spend $7.3 million on a high school guy and the Yanks werent afraid to draft guys with elbow/weight concerns or a guy who needed TJ surgery.

  • rbizzler

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but the Mulder comp is not quite applicable. He had a weird hip injury in Oaktown that he never quite recovered from. He rushed back for the postseason that year and then started having arm trouble shortly thereafter. Subsequently, he was never the same and turned into a bust for the Cards (hello Danny Haren).

    The real question is who would you trade any of the Hughes-Joba-IPK trio for. If not for Santana, then I am assuming the answer would be nobody.

  • barry

    Wisdom says to hold on to the kids. “Fortune favors the bold,” and in this case, the bold move would be to turn the Twins down and turn down, if only for a year(?), arguably the best pitcher in baseball. I’m buying a shirt tomorrow, nuff said.

  • future man

    My argument for keeping the kids is not exactly rational (or original) – I just want to root for home grown players again. Fill in the gaps at the trading deadline if need be, but we’ve been watching these guys for awhile now and I want to see what they can do. Yeah there’s a real risk they’ll be busts or get injured but so may johan. This year was more fun than any since ’01 cos of melky, cano, joba, duncan to a lesser extent, and I want a chance to see if they can all take the next step. Win or lose, it sure as hell beats watching kevin brown and randy johnson shit the bed.

    • brxbmrs

      I feel the same way – the crop of guys are leagues above the Dave Silvestri’s and Wade Taylors of 15 years ago.

      Hope the Twins find a way to keep Santana – we do need that lights out Ace, but I’m not sure Santana is that guy – AND I’m not sure Joba or Phil (or both) don’t become that guy (although I’ve got more questions about Hughes than most here).

    • Count Zero

      Yes, it’s an irrational argument — but I’m down with it. Plain and simple, I would rather root for our homegrown kids than a mercenary.

  • Anthony

    We could also imagine a hypothetical: let’s say the trade was Johan for IPK straight up, and Santana would be a free agent next year if not traded. Then, the evaluation is simply how many years of a potential 3/4/5 starter (which is what you’d be giving up) is one year of a #1 pitcher? I’m not sure where IPK projects, but even that seems like a questionable trade simply because of the value and number of years you have a young pitcher. That is assuming Johan becomes a free agent next year. If he’s going to be traded somewhere else there’s value in keeping him away from that team, and there’s value in having the opportunity to acquire him for the future which will be lost if he signs an extension elsewhere. But those things aside, even one year of an ace doesn’t seem like it’s worth a whole lot in cheap talent, let along IPK, our center fielder, and a young, top, position prospect.

    Frankly, I hope we realize Johan can reject any deal he doesn’t like and that we won’t give the twins much credit here, and will offer them a not great package or wait on it. I hate the idea of losing our prospects (though I may be overvaluing them and am reluctant to lose out on something we currently possess)

  • bart

    Make the smart trade – ther is no future without the present. The core of the team wil age before these kids make the impact you see ahead of them. There are more behind them in the minor leagues.

  • Rob

    I agree about not trading Hughes, but for a different reason. Joba was amazing out of the bullpen, but as we saw, when he went more than one inning his fastball no longer sat in the upper 90s. It was went from 98-100 to 93-94, and as a result his slider was not as dominant. Frankly, Joba as a starter is an unknown commodity, whereas Hughes is not, and we have seen him be both brilliant and not. However, he survived a season where he was less than healthy, with a pitching coach who couldn’t really coach. ( I love guidry the pitcher, but lets face it, he wasn’t really good at pin pointing mechanical problems.) If I put my money on one of our prospects I would still put on Hughes over Joba or IPK. I love Santana, but his post season numbers are terrible, and against AL east teams other than the yanks he has been miserable.
    Whats more: How many times have hired guns failed for us. New York is tough, and I wouldn’t want to see another Kenny Rogers situtation. I just don’t see this as worth it just to keep him from the Red Sox, and I don’t think they are serious contenders. They won’t be willing to part with Elsbury and or Bucholz. Lets sign him next year for money, not players.

  • Jeff

    After reading about the Twins/Rays deal I am still confident they still will plan to strike a deal for Johan…
    Think they still need Melky in center and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a guy like Karsteins or White used to plug the Garza spot… I’d love to see Igawa packaged for that but doubt it.
    Now Hughes to replace Santana is a given that I could live with seeing that I am one of the few on this blog that believes in the need for a bonafide ace come post season.
    The hard part for me is I don’t want to see Tabata or A-Jax dealt.
    Will be interesting to see what happens.

  • Chris

    Everyone talks of the future, but to me I see Johan as part of a youth/future movement. He is only 28 years onld and did not become a full time pitcher until age 24. While I dont think that makes hm comparable to a 24 year old – it is something to tak into account. Like the Red Sox did when trading for Beckett, the Yankees would be getting an anchor for the future of the rotation.

    The chances of all three of the Trinity becoming great are slim, although Hughes certainly have the potential to do so. Cashman is a smart guy and very frugal with his young talent and he will do everything he can to keep Hughes in Pinstripes and sell the Twins on a combo of Kennedy/Melancon and maybe even Horne (who they are supposedly very high on) to replace Hughes in a deal.

    I love Kennedy and think he projects as a guy who can win 150-200 big league games but I equate him at his best to be something similat to Mulder or maybe even Pettite. A ceilling of being a very good pitcher, but never a shut down ACE over the course of a career. At best – BEST – a number 2 starter most likely a 3 with some great seasons mixed in there. Horne has the talent to become a front-end guy, but has yet to harness it and Melencon has future closer written all over him – remember there is no way the Twins keep Nathan after next year and I would be shocked if he wasnt dealt.

    Perhaps the Yankees can convince the Twins to take a quantity (of still very good pitchers) over the quality of a future Ace with Hughes.

    As for the position player – neither Jackson nor Tabata has made it past AA so I cant put much faith in them yet. Melky is a good player, but I think he is overated and his trade value is at an all time high.

    If the Yankees can convince the Twins to take IPK, Horne, another second tier pitcher nearing the major leagues, Meky and Jackson or Tabata – I think you have to jump on it escpecially if the Twins can throw in a useful player to supplement the deal (I was heartbroken to see Rincon go the the DRays – oops they are the “Rays” now because I thought he would be a great throw in”

    If it comes down to having to give Hughes a gun to my head I do it. By the way that is the same thing I said when the Yanks gave Milton to Twins for Knobby. Also, you cannot discount the Red Sox getting Santana. Georger is an old man and wants another WS. Put Santana on the Sox and its 5 years at least before the Yanks will have a chance to compete with Boston.

    The Yankees have anticipated Johan becoming available for the last two years and I feel they are dead set on getting him. Let’s hope Cashman can pull a rabbit out of his hat and keep Hueghes and Chamberlain together. If not I lve the combo of Johan and Chamberaim.

    Getting Johan – even at the cost of Hughes gives the Yanks the best rotation in basebal for the next 4-5 years and there is a good chance another Hughes will come up through the system in that time.

  • Chris

    On another note:

    Are the Yankees planning on doing anything about this God aweful bullpen that they have right now? I have seen nothing other than rumors of Mahay and lincicum before he was signed.

    I understand that the middle relief marke is a joke, but they should take a look at how San Diego builds a pen – looking at failed starters who had good K/BB ratios and good WHIPS. I wanted Wood badly, but it looked like he never intended on leaving Chi Town, but this team needs to look around for something. Seems they are reluctant to go after Japanese relievers – probably still snake bitten by Igawa, but they could be the answer. For the most part they throw strikes and often have weird deliveries that work well in relief because hitters have trouble picking up pitches.

    All this Santana talk has overshadowed their biggest need, espeicially in light of the possibility that 3/5 of the rotation will be on pitch counts, the bullpen. Farnsworthless and even vuzcaino if he is signed will not cut it

    • brxbmrs


      Melky’s trade value is at an all-time high? Funny, I heard that last offseason when many here wanted him traded for Mike Gonzalez and again for Gagne at the deadline.

      We still don’t know what Melky is gonna be – although many here are “convinced” they do. Go look up Rod Carew’s second year in the bigs or how Roberto Clemente didn’t come into his own after 25 then get back to me on Melky’s value.

      The REALITY is Aaron Rowand is not as good defensively and has had two big offensive seasons – strip those away he is a .270/.330/.390 hitter – what Melky is right now (after slumping horribly at the end of the last two seasons)- except Melky won’t cost you a 50+ mil committment.

  • Pfistyunc

    The Yanks position players of note are not exactly spring chickens and neither is Mo. I think the Yanks’ championship window is pretty short, so you make the move to get Santana.

  • Mike P

    The idea that Santana in Boston spells long term disaster for the Yankees is a myth. They would have to give up their only great future arms and future center fielder, and would have an incredibly expensive rotation. The Sox would have to sacrifice hitting for pitching, long term. Next year’s free agent class includes Sabathia, Sheets and Penny. Add any of those to the big three and how can the Yanks be so far behind Boston with Santana, but no outfield power.

  • TurnTwo

    From reading some commentary on LoHud, it seems as though word has it that the Twins would rather have multiple A- pitching prospects instead of one A+ pitching prospect.

    I would gather that we can interpret that to men a package around Melky and Kennedy can still get done…

    Heyman is writing it’ll be one of the big 3, with Melky and 2 additional prospects, continuing to support this theory… think of it as helping now, and then helping later…

    I’d say it’ll be something like Melky and IPK, plus Betances and someone like Horne, McCutcheon, Melancon, Robertson, etc… someone with some time to go before he makes it to the big leagues, but has huge upside.

  • DanElmaleh

    Based on what I see out there. What would you guys say to a Cano-Horne-Jackson package for Santana? I am hesitant to give up Cano, but if we could keep the big three, maybe it is worth it.

    Perhaps the Garza trade helps us as now the Twins will need TWO pitchers. This means a Kennedy-Horne-Mekly-Melencon? Trade

    • Kanst

      Cano >> The big three

      He is more untouchable then the big three

  • Samples

    I eagerly awaited Hughes arrival and am still hopeful that he’ll turn into the ace he was touted to be. I would love to find a way to keep him if this santana deal gets made. However, how do we reconcile the reputation and projections with what our eyes saw all of last season?

    His stuff consists of 91-93 (occasionally a tad more) mph, laser straight fastball with no movement. The curve CAN be nasty, but there were plenty of games that it floated to the plate and looked hittable. He tended to throw a lot of pitches and get gassed by the 5th or 6th inning. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that some of his control problems were just the result of a young guy being a little timid and avoiding the plate too much, which will improve.

    Nothing would make me happier than to read a report this offseason that Dave Eiland spent a week in California with Hughes and viola!! he developed a reliable change up. If that doesn’t happen, can he really be a dominant starter with 2 pitches?

  • brxbmrs

    The guys we have internally – Veras, Ohlendorf, Britton, Ramirez, Bruney are probably better than anyone else we can get right now as a fa.

    I think they have to convert Igawa into a lefty specialist – let him keep his fb and whatever his second best pitch is.

    There’s always the possibility that they forego Santana and use a Jackson\Horne\Tabata to get a reliever.

  • MS

    I say the Yanks offer Kennedy, Melky, and 2 more prospects. If that can’t get it done than maybe they tak another angle. I think the two most important guys to keep are Hughes and Chamberlain (even more than Cano). If throw Cano out there, how much more will it take to get the deal done. Cano and maybe Gardner. None of the big three go and all we have to fill is 2nd base. I realize Cano is a great player and a possible batting champion some day, but pitching wins in the playoffs. I know I’ll catch some heat for this, but in my mind a staff of Santana, Wang, Chamberlain, Hughes, and Kennedy (maybe even Petitte) is much more important than one spot in the lineup.

  • E-ROC

    I wonder if Pettitte is coming back. Any word?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the big three staying in New York and seeing them in the rotation next year. I’m more worried about bullpen than the starting pitching. The bullpen is far from settled. I was hoping that the Yankees sign Troy Percival, but he wanted to close.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I keep saying that Andy Pettitte giving the Yanks his answer changes our desperation for a lefty. I wish he would man up and give the answer. Say, “Keep the youngsters, I’m coming back.”

    Even if he doesn’t, I’d like to pull out of the Santana sweepstakes if it means Hughes going.

    I think the Twins are putting themselves in a weird position. By dealing for an CF before talking Santana, they are taking the biggest player out of the mix. So do stupid things. Send him to the Mets. Let the American League get some sleep now. We have NL butt to kick in a few months.

  • Bo

    You have to give up something to get something.

    No one hands you an in their prime ace for nothing. The reason you have a flowing system of talent is to help your ball club.

  • Steve S

    Between Giambi, Pavano, Igawa, and Kyle Farnsworth, the Yankees have burned a lot of money. And yet they still stay competetive and havent missed the playoffs. Im not sure how you can argue that Hughes is a lesser risk than Santana. I understand the financial component but they just finished handing out three contracts for almost $400M and all three are on the wrong side of thirty. So how do you qualify that the investment in Santana somehow poses a risk. The financial components should not even come into play when discussing this. Its not as if the Yankees have proclaimed poverty at any point. And its not to say that if they spend on Johan, they cant spend on Sabathia next year (i doubt he makes it to free agency), or Kazmir following that. I get the desire to keep Hughes, I completely agree based on the fact that you should try and package other players. However, to compare the two players straight up and say Santana is more of a risk is insane. Phil Hughes has never thrown more than 160 innings in his professional career. And while you can compare Santana to some, his numbers and his resume put him in rare company- think Clemens, Pedro, Randy, Maddux. And Hughes could have the same luck or effectiveness as a million other “number 1” prospects. I think this year demonstrated that he is money, but thats a gamble when comparing him to Santana. He could be another Todd Van Poppel or he could be a Mark Prior and Kerry Wood (flashes of brilliance but no long term success). Look at Matt Garza, when he was called up last year, they said he was the Twins best prospect, and in fact better than Liriano. And he might be, but were in New York, and if Hughes puts up a season like Garza, they might not make the playoffs if he is the number two starter. And right now without Pettitte thats what he is. Im not saying do the deal with Hughes, but you cant make these absolute statements when discussing Johan. And the idea the underlying theme the last couple of weeks that the Yankees have some kind of limitation on the budget and need to endure the development of kids. No one is arguing that the kids aren’t important. However, when we won in the late 90’s it was a blend of veterans and youth. No one complained when they traded Westbrook for David Justice, because it ended up in a World Series. Or the fact that they traded Mike Lowell for Ed Yarnell, and that was a disaster, because they were winning. This is the Yankees, not the Devil Rays, you dont spend $200M and plan for two and three years down the line. And thats what makes this completely ridiculous, that you can argue the financial investment in Johan makes it riskier, but for them to have a left side of the infield making $45M+ next year and rely on three pitchers who for their long term benefit, shouldnt exceed 160 innings, is an unbelievable risk and borders on irresponsible, when for one of those three pitchers you can acquire the best pitcher in baseball.

  • brxbmrs

    That’s short term thinking – if they keep all three pitchers and Cano, Melky + they’ve got the nucleus of a team that could contend for 10+ years.

    Santana is not worth it in terms of the innings on his arm, the prospects he will cost and the contract he will command.

  • Rob_in_CT

    I also come down on the side of keeping Hughes/Joba/IPK. For once, I want the team to roll the dice on its own guys.

    I can make a rational argument too, but reasonable people can argue both sides of this pretty well, which means it’s a tough call. The tie-breaker, to me, is the emotional value of sticking with “our” own guys.

    • brxbmrs

      The “emotional value of keeping our own guys” – that was worded perfectly – the thing I find interesting is that there are so many here that feel that way and I think its for that exact reason.

      Santana for Hughes/Melky plus a Tabata or Horne or Jackson is reasonable and I can see how the FO would almost have to do that, I’m pro keeping all the kids, but I realize that there is a bunch of risk in that also.

      I’ll risk it with the kids – if they fall on their face the next few years, Yanks can rebuild – I’m also tired of a team full of free agents and I think the kids we have are major leaguers – whether they will be elite players remains to be seen.

      If Pettitte comes back, I like the rotation w\o Santana – alot – if Andy stays away, I still like what we have.

  • CB

    One thing on the big 3 – it’s very tough to have two young pitchers, never mind three in a major league rotation no matter how talented they are.

    As long as they keep paying over slot in the draft they are going to be able to find good to very good pitching prospects. They need to take those very good prospects and keep turning them into front line arms by packaging them together.

    Finding an ace however is a complete crap shoot even if you pay over slot. Just too rare. Look at Joba – other teams passed on him – but so did the yankees when they took kennedy. no one knew he was going to be this good. same with hughes – the angels came really close to drafting him ahead of Weaver.

    joba and Hughes are the two potential front line arms they have in the system that aren’t hurt or have played above short season. Hold on to them and use the depth they have of the very good arms.

    Getting Santana would be the perfect use of guys like Kennedy, Horne, even Betances. Even with draft picks Minnesota could never get talent like that because they couldn’t afford the signing bonuses. $1 million for an 8th round pick? They’d never do that.

    The twins traded away two very good arms yesterday in Garza and Morlan. They are going to lose Silva. They have a lot of pitching depth but I can see them wanting to restock the organization while getting major league ready arms.

    I think a package on kennedy and other talented arms will get it done. I think they’ll be able to keep hughes because santana has all the cards here. He’s only going to approve a deal if its to the exact place he wants to play at the price he wants.

    That place sounds like new york. hunter knows santana well and he himself has said that publicly several times. hunter isn’t going to just start blabbing about that unless santana was ok with him doing so.

  • jsbrendog

    All I have to say is you have just as little guarantee of the big three being good as you do of santana not. Let’s jump in the way back machine here. Way back. Way Back. We’re in the 90’s and we’re Mets fans (blasphemy I know but follow me here before you roast me) and we feel exactly the same way about wilson/pulsipher/isringhausen as we do 10 years or so later as yankee fans about our big three. If you were the gm of the Mets then and you thought about trading one of WIlson/Izzy/Pulsipher for say……Pedro? or let’s pick someone in the National League since Johan is in the ame league/ how about Smoltz? General Uproar. People calling you an idiot, how can you trade your big three, they’re going to be stars, etc.

    Granted the three of them were still unproven prospects and didn’t have the major league success that our big three does but honestly, if they had done it the Mets had smoltz and they beat the Yankees in the 200 World Series (Thank God this didn’t happen). I know people are going to call me idiot, or moron, or think they’re better than me because “the Braves would never trade Smoltz!” or my years are wrong, etc.

    The point is I remember Mets fans being just as gaga over their big three and Wilson was worthless except for a few mediocre at best years in Cinci, Pulsipher was a waste of a uniform and Izzy is the only one who became anyting worthwhile. AND ALL 3 SPENT A LOT OF TIME ON THE DL!

    Now would I like to see the Yanks keep the big 3? Yes. Do I want Johan Santana? Yes. Is there worry that one if not all of the Big Three could be a bust? Yes. Is Santa a big gluttonous fat guy who trades gifts for cookies and milk? Indeed. So my point is no matter what you do there’s risk. Sell the farm for the present or save for the future?

    The “big three” have been drafted in recent years and came to the Yanks in lower picks because they have the money to sign them. So if you save the big three and they either bust or become stars or you get Johan it’s really not that big of a deal because Cashman will continue to draft great players in lower picks who will be major league ready quickly because they have the money to sign them whereas the teams with worse records who get higher picks usually cannot.

    I digress. I feel dirty from mentioning the word Mets so I have to go wash my hands.

    • Rob_in_CT

      Wilson/Izzy/Pulsipher is one comp. But then there are other things to consider:

      1) That example is famous and has resulted in teams being much, much more careful with their pitchers (see: Joba rules, innings caps, etc). Have a look at the innings pitched by those guys – both the raw numbers of innings and the yearly jumps. Today, that would be considered criminal.

      2) Zito/Mulder/Hudson. This one is more recent. Imagine those old As teams with Yankee-level talent elsewhere on the roster – dynasty, man. The Blue Jays have had some recent success with young pitching too.

      3) As noted above, Hughes, Kennedy and Chamberlain have all had success in the majors. The sample size is small, it’s true, but when put together with their minor league numbers, it says to me that all three are real ML pitchers (unlike, say, the questionable Tyler Clippard, who has great minor league numebrs but got beat up in the majors… not that I’ve entirely given up on him, mind you).

      Injuries are always a concern with pitchers. This includes Johan Santana, who has some mileage on his arm, and whose numbers HAVE been in decline for four straight years (I’m talking about rate stats for opposing hitters, now, which have been rising). He’s still excellent, I know.

      Think of it this way – Johan is like putting one’s eggs in one basket. He may be great, he may be merely good, or his arm might fall off and then the team is screwed. Whereas maybe 1 of the “big three” becomes a top starter, one is merely decent, and 1 blows out his arm. You can hope for better, of course, and worse is possible, but on balance I think it’s actually lower risk to go with the young guys.

  • brxbmrs

    “Granted the three of them were still unproven prospects and didn’t have the major league success that our big three does ”

    And that kinda shoots your arguement apart – the Yanks in the early 90’s had Johnson\Taylor\Kaminicki – Hughes\Joba and IPK are not either of those two unholy trinities.

    How good they are remains to be seen, but the Yanks don’t HAVE to pay top dollar for a 29 year old Santana that possibly no one wants to give 160 mil and gut their roster of their best young players.

    Also, I think all three – Hughes\IPK and Joba were first round\supplemental guys – plus that really doesn’t matter – what matters is they are 21-22 and pitching in the majors. Pettitte I believe was a 19th round pick – Mattingly lower.

    The Yanks also drafted Sardinha and the immortal John FOrd Griffin before some guy named David Wright – point is once a guy shows he can play, where he was drafted isn’t that meaningful.

    I’m with you a 100% on the Santa thing though – someone needs to stop that madman ;-)

  • Bo

    Can we stop thinking that Melky is going to be an all star? He won’t hit with enough power to be a Yankee starter. Trade him now while his value is highest.

    • Rob_in_CT

      His value may have been highest last off-season. And I’ll admit I was one who didn’t want him traded. That being said, he was needed this year, even if he was merely league-average (or just under) with the bat.

      Excerpt from BP’s prospect/young player rankings for the Yankees, which just went up on their site:

      “The Big Picture: Rankings Combined With Non-Rookies Under 25 (As Of Opening Day 2008)

      1. Philip Hughes, RHP
      2. Joba Chamberlain, RHP
      3. Ian Kennedy, RHP
      4. Austin Jackson, OF
      5. Jose Tabata, OF
      6. Alan Horne, RHP
      7. Dellin Betances, RHP
      8. Jesus Montero, C
      9. Melky Cabrera, OF
      10. Andrew Brackman, RHP

      I’m confused as to how Philip Hughes went from the best pitching prospect in the game, to a guy who almost threw a no-hitter, to a guy people wanted to start throwing under the bus as he tried to re-find his groove after a pair of severe injuries. Don’t believe the anti-hype–he’s still a stud. On the other hand, there is Cabrera, who hopefully by now has proven to the Yankees that he’s a really nice fourth outfielder, but a liability offensively when you play him every day.”

      There is more in the full article, but as it’s subscription-req, I didn’t want to go overboard.

      • brxbmrs


        Melky had an absolutely shitty September – just like Matsui.

        At the end of August Melky was batting .293/.348/.419 – pretty good, especially considering the start he had when they weren’t playing him regularly.

        I don’t see how you can say his trade value was higher last year when the only deal that was mentioned was Proctor and Melky for a broken Mike Gonzalez.

        Melk was a point over league average with the bat and save for two years, Aaron Rowand is a guy who will K over 100 times a year and have an OPS under .800.

        Melk’s worth alot b\c he’s young, cheap and has all the tools except power (and stamina)right now.

        Most of all, he’s worth a ton when shitty players like Crisp make 5.5 mil, Gary Matthews 11 and Hunter at 32 gets a 90 mil deal – other GM’s see Melky’s value, its very puzzling to me why so many here don’t.

        If the Yanks trade Hughes for Santana – throwing Melk in the deal will just be throwing him away – Hughes should be the centerpiece – give them Gardner and or Jackson – someone needs to be able to catch and throw in CF.

    • brxbmrs


      You are one of the guys I’m talking about – Melky doesn’t have to hit 300/400/500 – we’ve got guys to do that – what we need him for is his D AND he will get better offensively – you don’t peak at 23.

      To replace him, the Yanks likely will make a stupid move signing Rowand who will be Melky lite – and he’ll do that at a rate of 10 mil per.

      His value is not at his “highest” yet – not when guys like Hunter are getting 90 mil deals at 32.

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  • eric from morrisania

    For everyone who keeps saying they want to root for our “homegrown kids”…

    I sure liked rooting for David Cone, Joe Girardi, Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, Cecil Fielder, Jeff Wetteland, Tim Raines, Graeme Lloyd, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Glenallen Hill and Denny Neagle win rings for the Yanks


    than I enjoyed watching Fernando Seguignol, Marty Jantzen, Jason Jarvis, Mike Gordon, Mike DeJean, Russ Davis, Sterling Hitchcock, Blaise Kozeniewski, Matt Drews, Bob Wickman, Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton, Danny Mota, Ricky Ledee, Jake Westbrook, Zach Day, Ed Yarnall, Drew Henson, Jackson Melian, Brian Reith, Ben Ford, and Oswaldo Mareina all NOT win rings for the Blue Jays, Expos, Rockies, Mariners, Tigers, Indians, and all the other various teams we traded all those once highly-touted prospects for.


    Is there a risk that Santana will get hurt, or decline and not live up to his pay? Sure. But it’s a much smaller probability than the probability that all of the three or four or five players we trade to Minnesota end up being superstars. Of all the prospects we’ve traded away in the last 15 years to acquire all the talent that’s fueled our title teams (and near title teams), what studs have we traded away? Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook, and Mike Lowell. That’s it. You could argue that Nick Johnson and Jose Contreras should be in there, but they’ve been wildly inconsistent or hurt, or both. And in those deals, Lilly was stupid because we shouldn’t have traded a good pitching prospect for a hard throwing emotional basketcase nutheat who had a career losing record in Jeff Weaver, and Lowell was a prospect-for-prospect deal because we thought his path was blocked by the resigning of Scott Brosius.

    I love Hughes, and Cabrera, and love the potential of Tabata and Jackson and Horne and Melancon and Betances. But chances are, only 1 or 2 of those guys become All-Stars. Santana will be an All-Star for at least the next 4 years, which is our window of championship contention before our offensive core is too old to do anything and we need to reload.

    Make the deal.

  • The Monk

    What you forget, as virtually everyone else does too, is the cost to the Yanks is far more than $163.25M (the 2008 contract plus a 6 or 7 year and $150M contract). Instead, the Yanks pay $1.40 for every dollar of salary because they get slammed by the luxury tax. That means a $150M contract costs the Yanks $210M in salary and luxury tax (never mind the insurance costs). Another cost is defense — no Melky means Damon and Matsui — less range in left, no arm in center. Top that off with another 10-14M/year for Rowand if the Yanks decide to get a replacement for the Melkman.

    I think the RedSawx are biding their time and waiting to see how much the Yanks will give up. I agree that the Yanks are bidding against themselves — there’s no way the RedSax will cough up Ellsbury or Buchholz and that means the best they are offering is Lester and Crisp. The IPK/Melky-plus offer is better.

    Don’t trade Phil.

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