Tuesday, February 15, 2005
I was planning on posting my AL West Preview today, but the Twins signed Johan Santana to a contract yesterday, to me, is the biggest news of the winter. So, stop by tomorrow for that. There are just a few things I would like to comment on the Santana signing. If you have any questions or comments on it, e-mail me.
Yesterday, about 11:00 in the morning, the news showed up on KFAN. The Twins had reached an agreement with Cy Young winner Johan Santana on a four year contract believed to be about $40 million. Of course, this is the same number basically that we had heard Santana and his agent, Mike Greenberg, had been asking for all along. My initial thought was of the Twins Geek article that told us that agreeing to this deal would not be as great of news as you might think. But throughout the day, a number of other thoughts hit my mind regarding the signing that I think are worth discussing.
First, the average seasonal salary of the deal (with some quick mathematics) is $10 million. Although we don't know for sure, we have to assume that the contract will call for $5 million in 2005, $9 million in 2006, $12 million in 2007 and $13.25 million in 2008. When you consider that the Yankees gave Carl Pavano over $8 million a season and over $7 million annually to Jaret Wright, Santana at $10 million per season seems more than fair. When the Phillies gave Jon Lieber over $7 million a year to pitch for 3 years, Santana is a steal. When Eric Milton signed for almost $8 million a year with the Cincinnati Reds, it makes the reigning AL Cy Young winner's deal look miniscule. When Kris Benson gets $8 million a season from the Mets, the best pitcher in baseball should get $10 million. When the Mets gave a 32 year old Pedro Martinez four years and $52 million, the 25 year old Santana, at $10 million a year, is more than fair. I could probably go on and on with more reasons why $10 million a year for Santana is more than fair for the Twins.
It sounds to me like assistant GM Wayne Krivsky does most negotiating. He was credited with the Carlos Silva signing and sounds like he did all the work with this deal too. You have to assume that the next time there is a GM opening, Krivsky will have to be considered.
Second, Joe Mays' contract and subsequent shoulder injury is clearly a concern to the Twins and their fans. There are plenty of differences between the two situations. First, Mays was only in his first year of arbitration-eligibility. Santana is in his second. Mays had really only had one good season. Santana has put up remarkable numbers the last two seasons and very good numbers the previous seasons. Mays had previous shoulder injuries that the team obviously knew about. Santana has had no shoulder problems in recent years. He did have bone chips removed from his elbow last offseason and performed well (to say the least) in 2005. During Mays' good season, Baseball America ranked him the third best pitcher in the American League. By winning the Cy Young Award last year, Santana was clearly the best pitcher in the American League, and I think it is safe to say that he was the best pitcher in all of baseball. In other words, Santana is a better pitcher, hence worth the contract, and his injury risk at this time is far less than Mays was at the time he signed his deal.
Third, as the Twins Geek mentioned, it is likely that Santana would have won his arbitration case this year and been awarded $6.8 million. He guessed that he would have made about $9.5 million in 2006 in arbitration. He then believes that he could receive $13 million each of the next two years. That's 4 years, and $42.3 million. Just 6% more than the $40 million the Twins just agreed to. And, although I understand the reasoning and it does make sense to me, I think it leaves out one very important point. Let's just assume that Santana has two straight great years, under 1 year contracts. Following the 2006 season, he would become a free agent. If at that time the Twins are willing to give Santana $13 million for each of two seasons, that means that the Yankees, Red Sox or other big spenders would probably be willing to give him $15-$16 million a year, for four, five, six years, probably however long he wants. In other words, the Twins would not be able to play in that negotiations and Santana would be gone after the 2006 season. This deal assures that (unless there is a trade) Santana will be with the Twins in 2007 and 2008.
Fourth, I have mentioned on this site many times that I am a big fan of the way that the Twins do business. I appreciate development of their minor league system, and ability to play within a budget. However, as I have also mentioned, I think that the Twins need to be able to recognize when they have those special kinds of players. These aren't just the types of players that make All-Star teams, but the types of players who are the best at their positions, the types of players that down the road will show up on Hall of Fame ballots year after year, if they don't get in right away. When they get these types of players, they need to keep them and build around them. The salaries of these players should try to be fair, but they also should not go against the rest of the budget. In other words, the Twins need to work under self-induced cap of $60 million. However, if it takes going over that amount to keep Santana, they need to do it. The Twins have that type of player in Johan Santana. The Twins and their fans hope that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and maybe even Jason Kubel are those types of players. Maybe by that time there will be a new owner who would allow that to happen.
Maybe it doesn't translate into wins and losses, but we have seen the impact that Santana had last year on attendance. You know that fans will continue to show up when he pitches at the Dome. You know that merchandise sales of his jerseys, t-shirts and other memorabilia will be huge. There will likely be a bobblehead day. There will be plenty of Santana events. The same thing will happen with Mauer and Morneau. They will make sales of Torii Hunter shirts seem miniscule (and that is not meant at all to minimize the value of Hunter). Clubs make money in more ways than just by ticket sales, and these types of players will provide that.
Speaking of new ownership, it looks like the Vikings will be changing ownership as Red McCombs and Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler seem to have an agreement to sell the team for $625 million. Good for the Vikings. Good for McCombs. Great! But, the deal needs league approval which could take a couple of months to happen (if it happens at all). Why do I mention this when the fact is that I don't really care? For two reason. First, does it bother everyone else that this is such a Vikings state? Every day for the last month or two, we have heard about this impending sale. Yesterday, the Twins sign the reigning Cy Young Award winner to a $40 million contract and it isn't even the lead story in town! That bothers me! But the second thought I have on this topic involves Wolves owner Glen Taylor. Taylor put in a bid for the Vikings but it was apparently less than Fowlers. Now I am free to hope that Glen Taylor will shift his focus to buying the Twins! I realize that they are not currently for sale, but I can't imagine the Pohlad family sticking around for too much longer. Taylor showed a willingness to spend with the Wolves, maybe he would spend with the Twins. Maybe he would allow the likes of Santana, Mauer and Morneau to be lifelong Twins. A guy can dream, right?
Terry Ryan made a couple of mistakes (in my opinion) this offseason. Not re-signing Corey Koskie is the biggest. Giving $5 million to Jacque Jones. Giving $1.7 million to Luis Rivas. Giving Juan Castro 2 years and $2.05 million.
But the Twins have kept preaching that they have won with pitching and defense. We hear it constantly. And, for the most part, that is very true. Last year, the Twins led the American League in ERA. Their starting rotation had the best ERA of any of the starting rotations in the AL Central. So did their bullpen. The #1 priority this offseason was to retain Brad Radke. Check. Two years and $18 million. Their #2 priority was to sign Johan Santana to a long-term deal. Check. Four years and $40 million. Their #3 starter, Carlos Silva received a two year deal with a third year option worth just over $5 million. Kyle Lohse just won his arbitration case and will receive $2.4 million in 2005. In other words, starters one through four are back. The #5 starter situation will likely be between JD Durbin and Joe Mays. Either should be better than what they got last year. To me, the Twins bullpen has a chance to be one of the most dominant in all of baseball. JC Romero is back with a two year deal which comes with plenty of question marks, but all the talent in the world. I can't imagine a better group than Jesse Crain, Grant Balfour and Juan Rincon as setup men. And Joe Nathan is back for his second season as a closer. The Twins pitching was great in 2004, and they could be even better in 2005! Terry Ryan kept them all together, and for that he deserves a lot of credit. The likes of Durbin, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano and maybe even Glen Perkins give the fans the possibility that such pitching success should continue.
And finally, because of the pitching, and the outfield (Stewart, Ford, Hunter and Jones) and the hopeful emergence of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer as the best players at their positions, I fully believe that the Twins will remain the favorite to win the AL Central. With another year under the belts of the players and specifically the pitchers, I will again take my chances against the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels or whoever else might be in the playoffs.
For those of you who missed my Paparazzi story from yesterday, be sure to click here. I want to thank all of you that e-mailed me your thoughts on it!
It is always interesting to see where my name pops up online. It is great getting linked by other bloggers who enjoy a story or opinion or something. But sometimes, I wonder how my name and site show up on certain pages. For instance, check out this one. How does this site get pointed out and shown on a Donald Trump website. I think it's cool!
After watching Jose Canseco's interview on 60 minutes, Will Carroll has some additional questions that he would like to ask.
And on that note, I wish you a great Tuesday. If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read above, please e-mail me. Have yourself a great week!
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