Dec
27

Johan Santana’s great 2007

By

Over at the Lo Hud Yankees Blog, Peter Abraham this evening penned a piece with which we here at RAB clearly agree. Abraham wrote that the Yankees should just say no to Johan Santana.

Of course, we believe that. Hell, we’re even selling t-shirts for just that purpose.

But in the course of his argument, Abraham strays a bit from his analysis. He writes: “Santana could be great again. But he was 15-13, 3.33 last season and will be 29 in March.”

Now, as far as my reading of this statement goes, Abraham’s use of the “but” indicates that Johan Santana was not great in 2007 because he won only two more games than he lost. It’s a classic sportswriters mistake. Johan Santana didn’t win more games because the Twins’ offense was terrible. They were 25th in runs scored and 27th in team OPS.

Despite this poor offensive production, Johan Santana still managed to win 15 games. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s look at some of the other stats the once-great Johan Santana put up. His 3.33 ERA was 7th overall in the American League, trailing John Lackey by 0.31 runs. His 1.07 WHIP was tops in the AL, and his 235 strike outs trailed Scott Kazmir by just four. His strike out-to-walk ratio was 4.52, good for fourth in the American League.

In a word, Johan Santana in 2007 was great.

Now, there are plenty of reasons — starting with Phil Hughes and ending with the luxury tax issues — for the Yankees to avoid a trade of Johan Santana right now. And if his agent were smart, he’d tell Santana to stay healthy for another year and cash in during a full-fledged bidding war in 2008. But we shouldn’t start pretending that Johan Santana wasn’t great in 2007 because of a poor won-loss record. Make no mistake about it: Johan Santana is one of the top pitchers in the American League. Stick him on the Yankees or the Red Sox, and his 2007 line would probably feature 20+ wins and another Cy Young Award. Greatness, indeed.

Categories : Pitching
  • RZG

    How was Santana’s run support when he pitched? It doesn’t matter how the rest of the team’s offense performed at other times.

    I guess it wasn’t good but I don’t know where to find the numbers and compare it to the rest of the league.

    I won’t cry if they give up Hughes, Melky, and some dross to get him but I also won’t mind if they pass on him, even if he goes to the Red Sox.

    I’m reluctant because of the length of contract he supposedly wants (how often does that work out well?) and what the Yankees might do to fill in CF. I don’t want CF tied to another longterm free agent this year (Cameron) or next year even if they get through 2008 with Damon.

    • steve (different one)

      http://www.baseball-reference......;year=2007

      in Johan’s losses, here are the number of runs the Twins scored:

      2
      3
      3
      0
      2
      1
      2
      4
      2
      3
      0
      3
      4

      • RZG

        Thanks (hitting my forehead with my palm), I guess I should have looked at the game logs. They didn’t exactly knock the ball around the yard during his starts.

  • MD

    would it shock anyone if Hughes was 15-13 in 2008……….he won 5 in about 1/3 of a rookie, injury plagued season last year…….and with the spare 25 mil, the Yanks could do some damage in July…….no reason to make this trade…….

    • NYFan50

      It would shock me. It would mean 28 decisions in a season in which he’s going to have his innings capped.

      • MD

        ok, 15-9…….still not a shock, even with limited innings

  • JRVJ

    I think Pete Abe is confusing the determination to keep the big 3 with some sort of wistful idea about the new, homegrown Yankees.

    While I am leaning towards not trading anyone for Santana, I have no qualms or compulsions about the Yankees shelling out big bucks next year for Santana/Sabathia and Teixeira, what with at least $46.5MM coming off the books (Giambi, Mussina, Pavano, Farnsworth and Hawkins), with $32MM possibly coming off the books next year (Pettitte and Abreu).

    If Santana/Sabathia and Teixeira become FAs after 2008, I expect all big revenue teams to go after them, ponying up cold hard cash for them….

    • steve (different one)

      agreed.

      the Yankees are trying to develop their own pitching because buying pitching on the open market is usually a very poor investment. it’s as simple as that.

      if the Yankees could find a better CFer at the right price, they would do that instead of playing Melky.

      they are not hesitant to trade Hughes because he is “homegrown”, they are hesitant to trade him because they think he has top of the rotation potential and will cost about $20M total over the next 6 seasons. he is unbelievably valuable. it’s still a business decision.

      they are not hesitant to trade Cano because he is homegrown, they are hesitant b/c he is arguably the best 2Bman in the AL.

      Melky on the other hand, is a decent, but not great player. they are playing him now because they have $42M allocated to their outfield already. if they could trade Matsui for a CFer better than Melky, they would.

  • casey

    I agree that Santana in 07 was great, but he was not AS great as he has been in recent years. That downturn should be the main detracting factor here, because as he ages over the next 7 years it’s only going to get worse.

    • Steve (a different other one)

      They said the same thing about Roger Clemens

  • Bo

    You do realize you make a great case for the fact that the Yanks should trade for Santana right???

    • steve (different one)

      i’m not sure anyone is arguing that there isn’t a case to be made for trading for Santana.

      i can’t speak for everyone, but the people who feel strongly about keeping Hughes would still acknowledge the merits of making the trade.

      just like i think the people who would advocate trading for Santana would ackowledge the merits of keeping Hughes, Melky, etc.

      the fact of the matter is that if it WAS a slam-duink decision, a trade would have been completed already. either with the Yankees or with Boston.

      the problem is that NO ONE is ready to make this trade, INCLUDING the Twins.

      that’s what i don’t get about people who say the yankees “HAVE TO” make this trade. if they “had to”, they’d have done it already.

      if it were a lock that Santana would be great for the next 7 years, the Red Sox would have pulled the trigger already.

      its a potentially franchise altering decision on either side.

  • Bo

    It really comes down to this. Do they think Hughes will be a frontline, top of the rotation, ace level starter?

    If they do they wouldn’t move him for anyone and they shouldn’t.

    • HarryCrumb

      Does anyone think that Hughes has “ace, top of the line” starter stuff? Granted, i thought he was impressive last year, but i wasnt really blown away by his stuff. I know he has a “sneaky quick” fastball (ala Rivera), however, it still tops out at like 92/93 (not exactly “blow away” stuff). His curve was nice, but his other offspeed stuff seemed kind of average.

      I guess we just need to give him some time to develop. However, if first impressions mean anything, Hughes looks more like a #2/#3 rather than a #1.

      He’ll need to add another 2/3mph’s to his fastball in order to make his offspeed stuff more effective, and he’ll need a more consistent curve (sometimes it just hung up there).

      As of right now, Hughes doesnt possess an “out pitch” – instead, he has a number of nice pitches which the league will be able to catch up to in due time. While i remain optimistic, I worry that Hughes has been so over-hyped that people now have unreasonable expectations for him. He’s certainly a nice pitcher with a great makeup, but at the end of the day, he was still outpitched by the 2 other members of the “Big Three.” Time will tell, but i think everyone needs to chill before we coronate Hughes as the next Great Thing.

      • David

        He was pitching hurt most of last year. He surely showed ace stuff on that night in Texas. And he surely showed ace stuff in the playoffs.

  • E-ROC

    I don’t want to the Yanks to trade for Santana because there is nothing like watching your own talent succeed at the ML level, not to mention the luxury tax implications.

    • HarryCrumb

      If I hear anyone use “luxury tax” as a reason not to get Santana, I may kill myself. Granted, there are a littany of reasons to avoid the trade (just as there are a littany of reasons to do the trade), but people, please stop saying luxury tax is a main consideration.

      This is the Yankees we’re talking about – they practically print their own money and are the most profitable sports team on the planet (with the exception of perhaps Manchester United or Real Madrid).

      I respect everyon’s opinion, but please, for the love of all that is Holy, stop saying that we should avoid getting the best pitcher on the planet because you are concerned that we might have to pay the Devil Rays a few more million dollars at the end of the year via luxury tax. Thank you!

      • steve (different one)

        just because you feel this way (and i somewhat agree with you) doesn’t mean that Yankee ownership feels the same.

        paying 1 pitcher $28M including luxury tax is a very real consideration in their decision making process.

        i tend to agree that the yankees can afford it, but pretending it is not a real concern to the Yankees (even if it’s not a concern to a fan) seems unrealistic.

        • HarryCrumb

          Steve,

          I completely agree that luxury tax considerations are a real concern for the Yankees, however, I dont think its as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. So yes, when considering whether to sign a big named player to a lofty K, luxury tax should be considered – the point I was trying to make was that it should be considered for no more than 3 seconds.

          • JT from NYC

            Gotta love how people just want the Yankees to go out and buy the best player at every position no matter what prospects or how much money it cost.

            There has to be a limit somewhere, even for the Yankees. Yes Santana is great, but when combining the salary, years, luxury tax, and players that Yankees would have to give up, its definitely a hard decision. Now with that said, the Yankees have a lot of money coming off the books next year, but spending on contracts like this is a bad trend that the yankees are trying to get away from.

  • Shane

    Why not save the money and go full court press after Texeriea(Sp?) in 2009????

    E-Roc, great point… Growing up watching Pettitte, posada, bernie, jeter etc winning was awesome.

  • http://samiamsports.blogspot.com SAMIAMSPORTS

    you forgot to mention one thing in the post….. 2008 world series MVP

  • JRVJ

    Shane, maybe you’re not paying attention – the Yankees have $46.5MM coming off the books FOR SURE after 2008 ($17MM for Giambi, $11MM for Moose, $10MM for Pavano, $5MM for Farns and $3.5MM for Hawkins). An extra $32MM may come off the books after 2008 ($16MM for each of Pettitte and Abreu – the Yankees may keep both of them, theymay keep one of them or they may keep neither).

    The Yankees can offer $20MM to Santana/Sabathia, $16MM to Teixeira, and still save (AT LEAST) $10MM.

    (and after 2009, Damond and Matsui are off the books, so that’ s an extra $32MM there – that’s also part of the reason why Yankee fans are rooting for one of Austin Jackson or Jose Tabata to turn into the real deal, and claim an OF spot on the cheap).

  • JT from NYC

    Santana could be great again. He was 15-13, 3.33 last season despite a lack of run support and only will be 29 in March. But he has thrown 932 innings over the last four seasons, counting the postseason.

    I think you mis-quoted Pete. The comment regarding the 15-13 record despite any run support is a testimony that he can be great next season on a team with good run support. His “but” was regarding the number of innings he has thrown.

    • steve (different one)

      i wonder if Pete changed his post. that seems like a pretty egregious mis-quote.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      That’s not at all what Pete’s post said last night when I copy and pasted the quote into this post. He changed it.

  • Bo

    There is no way the luxury tax will be an impediment to getting an ace starting pitcher.

    The only reason they won’t trade for Santana is because the baseball people think Hughes is an ace.

    And Im all for home grown guys etc. But sometimes you have to use your home grown guys to get better.

    is anyone crying today that Paul O’Neill wasn’t homegrown and we traded homegrown Roberto Kelly for him?
    Was that a bad move?

    Trading homegrown Soriano for A-Rod and his monster contract. Was that bad??

  • Grant

    As far as trading, not Johan’s contract, will the price get more or less expensive if the Yanks wait until the deadline? Or does it depend on too many factors to predict? I want Santana but don’t want to lose Hughes, I am like a child who can’t decide which toy I want, so I am glad smarter people than I (I hope) are deciding. I like Melky, but he’s not that great, not on the level of Hughes and Cano, IMO.

  • Chip

    How many world series have we been to since we made that Soriano trade there Bo? Besides, both of your examples cite trading position players. Do you think it would have done the Yankees good to trade Andy Pettite for say Pat Hentgen (1996 Cy Young winner)? Pat was coming off his 27 year old season and had just won a cy young. I’m not saying the trade was ever possible but it just gives you an idea of how you have to pick and choose your spot. Andy Pettite for Pat Hentgen would have made the Blue Jays look foolish at the time but it would have killed the Yankees pitching from 98-02

    • Grant

      I don’t think that is the same as thing, in ’98 Pettitte had won 16 or more games 3 times, including a 21 win season. A more apt analogy would be trading Pettitte in ’96 for Maddox ro Randy Johnson, and that would have been a good move, but keeping Pettitte was a good move. I think that’s where we are, win win. IMO the chances are Santana all of a sudden turning into a bust in NY are very very remote.

  • bkight

    I think everyone knows the pros and cons by now. It comes down to Hughes’ ceiling. He may never be Santana, but if he gets close it’s not worth doing the deal when you add Melky, the other prospects and the money.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    the luxury tax IS an issue, not just in terms of Hank spending more of his money, but in terms of making the Yanks better on the field. it’s a zero-sum game: the less money the Yanks give out to their competitors, the worse they are -> the Yanks play weaker opponents, hence they win more games.

  • Bo

    The thing is why should the Yankees have to pay full price for a guy in his last yr who will command the richest contract ever for a pitcher?

    I think Cashman is playing this one perfectly. He thinks he can probably get Santana for a lesser package if they show patience and wait out the Twins who cannot possibly go into next yr with him as a distraction.

    And they can still keep Hughes.

    Then it comes down to who do you fancy. Hughes or Kennedy.

  • Bo

    Chip,

    Please never compare Johan Santana to Pat Hentgen ever again.

    I just threw up in my mouth.

    You’re talking one of the best left handed starters of the past 50 years. In his prime. Don’t disrespect him like that.

    • Chip

      Hahaha sorry Bo, I was just trying to point out that trading a young pitcher for a guy even coming off a cy young season isn’t always a good idea

  • Steve S

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/.....id=3170304

    Stark seems to reporting that the Yankees included Marquez and fought over the fourth prospect (as opposed to George King and Murray Chass). I thought the Yankees should do this but the more I think about it I think its not meant to be. I think Bill Smith is a problem in this whole thing. He is trying to make the perfect deal and he isnt going to get it.

    And I still think Cano would get this done and all of the big three would be protected. And the team could make up the difference.

  • MS

    I’m with you Steve S. Trade Cano and 2 lower level prospects and keep all the pitching.

  • Chris

    Travis
    Do you actuallu think that the Yankee luxury tax money – an extra 7 million accross 15 teams will make them better?

    Look at these teams payroll – the Marlins and Rays fo Example have not significantly increaseed their payroll at all since getting 30 million in luxury tax – that monty goes in their pocket, Getting Santana and paying that extra luxury tax will have no effect on competition other than causing the Sox to make a move to one up them next season.

    In the end this will come down to whether Cashman really thinks Hughes is an Ace. If so, the Yanks will take their chance this year and possibly try to sign Sabathia next offseason; although I have this fear that part of this youth movement has to do with the Yanks wanting to cut costs (not just on Johan, but you will see it next year with TExieira and Sabathia – just watch) We are already missing George’s insaciable desire to win at any cost – dont think the Brothers Steinbrenner feel the same.

    We are going to miss George – while we will still have the top payroll – there wont be any more situations where George decides to forgoe alot of pofits for a better team — I miss him already

    • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

      you’re right that $7 mil over 15 teams wont mean much, but it could be a big difference in the draft/IFA market: maybe it’s the difference between signing a Miguel Cabrera or not.

      anyway, it also makes any additional high-profile FA signings (which are inevitable) add that much more over the threshold.

  • Larry

    There is also the impact of the LT relief from the new stadium