Before we delve into all the craziness surrounding the Minneapolis print reaction to the Santana deal, let's get one thing straight. The owners of the Twins have a deserved reputation for being cheap. However, offering a $20 million/year contract can not be considered being cheap. Can we agree to that set of terms? Is that a fair baseline?
Jim Souhan would agree. In a column titled, "Keeping This Star Wasn't An Option", Souhan points out that the Twins offered what were quite reasonable offers to both Torii ("Gates of Shinto") Hunter and Johan Santana: "They offered Hunter a three-year, $45 million contract, and the Angels blew it away, taking the risk even though Hunter might be a declining player three or four years from now. The Twins offered Santana a four-year extension worth $80 million and heard laughter."
Santana wants a 5 to 7 year contract. He'd be in his middle 30's at the end of such a contract. That doesn't sound smart to me. But Nick Coleman, political writer for the Strib, doesn't want to hear it.
Coleman says, "A team owned by a triple-billionaire who is getting a new stadium from John Q. Public (Johnny Jr. will pay taxes for this thing for 30 years) refuses to pay its biggest star the going rate for a top left-hander. And we are supposed to shrug and pass the tax collection plate."
I like Coleman, a lot. And I hate to say this, but he's absolutely wrong. The Twins did offer the going rate--$20 million/year. They just disagreed with the length of the contract. And we'll see whether Santana is worth 20 million when he's 34. And they paid big money to keep Morneau, Maurer, and Cuddyer.
In the meantime, Coleman's broadsides against the guys the Twins got in return is, well, stupid: "The Twins' best pitcher -- and one of the best in baseball -- was traded to the New York Mets for four stiffs no fifth-grader heard of before." It should be noted that all of those prospects are under 23 years of age. No one had heard of Johan Santana when the Twins picked him out of Rule 5 draft. Calling an 18 year old a "stiff" is bullshit, and Coleman should know better. And putting the argument in the mouths of 11 year olds is cheap. Kids are stupid, Nick. Lots of fifth-graders haven't heard of a lot of shit. Most of them haven't heard of you--it doesn't necessarily mean you are a worthless hack.
Patrick Reusse is also unhappy with the trade, because the prospects aren't sure enough. They are prospects. Every single one of them is at least a half-decade younger than Santana. Will any of them be as dominant as him? Almost certainly not. Might Liriano be? Maybe.
The Twins have done what I thought they would never do--they've locked up Cuddyer, Maurer, and Morneau. They've brought in Delmon Young. They've improved their offense, and they haven't overspent, or underspent for anyone.
To quote Souhan again:
When they traded another Cy Young winning lefthander, Frank Viola, in 1989, they dealt with a New York team (the Mets) and received a package of young players that hardly looked overwhelming -- Rick Aguilera, Tim Drummond, Jack Savage, Kevin Tapani and David West.
Three of those players were disappointments. Tapani and Aguilera helped the Twins win a World Series.
When the Twins traded their best player, Chuck Knoblauch, in 1998, they dealt with a New York team (the Yankees) and received a package of young players that hardly looked overwhelming -- Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton and Daniel Mota. Guzman and Milton became All-Stars.
Souhan has been busy, so he doesn't even get into the players the Twins got for Buchana, Guzman and Milton, but they got good players for them. Souhan is so busy, he's written another column suggesting that the real problem that the Twins have isn't paying for elite pitchers (like Santana) but for overpriced middle-of-the-road pitchers. The Mariners gave Carlos fucking Silvas $12 million a year! The guy who left games because he had to poop. Twelve fucking million dollars. Average veteran pitchers are being treated like Fabrege Eggs. Why not go young? The Twins would have had every reason to not fight a Silva contract that was half of what he got. Souhan also blames Hank Steinbrenner. Souhan should probably just take a break. Maybe drive to Marine-on-St. Croix, enjoy the scenery.
Nick Coleman can whine and complain about the tight pockets of the Pohlad family, and in most cases, he is right. But on this issue, in this off-season, he is wrong. Just because someone can afford a bad deal, doesn't mean they should take a bad deal.
I know for a fact that Nick Coleman can afford to buy a Hummer. He refuses to buy it because it is an expensive gas-guzzler! Nick Coleman is a cheap bastard and his cute wife should cheat on him with cute pasty bloggers! Because Nick Coleman is less of a man for not taking a bad deal, you see.
(Oh, in case you were wondering--Sid Hartman says the Twin Ownership is awesome and fun and cool, and you'd think so too, if you got to hang with them. Sid is a 13 year old girl in a 90 year old woman's body.)