No News Is … an Absence of Information

LaVelle Neal checks in on the Santana front. The skinny:

  • Mets are still in it. The Twins actually like their prospects, sans Jose Reyes.
  • Yanks are still in it. Kei Igawa has been discussed.
  • Sox are still in it. "Dormant" is a good word to describe the talks with them.

This contrasts slightly with Murray Chass’ report in the NYT that the Twins had substituted Jeff Marquez for Ian Kennedy in their demands. This report got some play as the Twins "reducing" their offer, a take that simply isn’t accurate — the Daily News reported Dec. 5 that the Yanks could have had Santana for a four-player package including Hughes, Marquez and Melky Cabrera and not including Kennedy, but that Cashman "walked away" from it.

I’ll have more on this later, but it struck me once again reading through my newly arrived copy of the Bill James Handbook 2008 how desperately the Yankees need a pitching ace, and how good Santana really was last year. The Sox clearly have stuck by their offers (thus the dormancy). One only hopes the Yankees are misguided enough to truly believe the return of Andy Pettitte is just as good as acquiring Johan Santana for what seems to be a reasonable price.

92 comments… add one
  • The crux of the argument is about just how reasonable the price for Santana is. The Yanks would be giving up of one of the three best pithing prospects in baseball, their starting center fielder, and two more prospects for a pitcher they’d have to commit 6-7 years and $20 mil/year (plus luxury tax). The loss of Cabrera would probably have to be off-set by the signing of an outfielder (more money!). Personally, I am torn about whether the Yanks should do this. This could be too “unreasonable” a price in the end. The sense I get is not that the Yanks think Pettitte’s return is equivalent to Santana (who thinks that?), but that he adds enough depth to the rotation to justify risking not going for Santana.

    Nick-YF December 27, 2007, 11:22 am
  • Seriously (since there’s no ‘Humor’ tag here), do you even realize how condescending, and “flame-throwing”, some of your comments are?
    Let’s go through them:
    “a take that simply isn’t accurate”
    You have no way of knowing this. The Daily News report is one among many.
    “how desperately the Yankees need a pitching ace”
    Some YF’s believe this. Many do not. Some, like me, think they will draft or sign an ace sooner or later, and that’s much more valuable than always trying to acquire or buy one. That said, they should sign Santana if he reaches the market. But paying twice is a recipe for disaster. Thank god Cashman understands this cost-benefit.
    “One only hopes the Yankees are misguided enough to truly believe the return of Andy Pettitte is just as good as acquiring Johan Santana”
    Do you really think any one in the Yankee organization really believes this nonsense? But they do know that the Yankee team with Wang and Pettitte at the front of the staff had the best record in baseball last year for the last four months. Add in the youngsters, and they would be very competitive and playoff-worthy without Santana. That’s all you really ask for of a team.
    “what seems to be a reasonable price”
    Depends on what you think Hughes will become. If he’s even a #2 or #3, he’s extremely valuable. Indeed, I saw a rotation of #2’s and #3’s win the most games in MLB history.
    It seems to me that if you think Santana is so valuable to be had, you should be arguing for the Sox to include Ellsbury and Lester and Lowrie and Masterson. Then they can pony up another 120-140 million.
    Do it Theo!

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 11:31 am
  • Just like a ‘reasonable price’ for Santana, for the Sox, is Lester, Lowrie, Masterson and Crisp, a reasonable cost for the Yankees is Kennedy, Melky, Horne and a fourth non-top prospect piece.
    Hughes, like Buchholz, as one of the top pitching prospects in the game, is not a reasonable price for the ‘right’ to sign Santana through age 36, at a price that only Santana thinks is right. It’s a good price for a guy that is multiple years away from free agency, or that is already signed for multiple years. The Yankees would be giving away Hughes’ not-so-unlikely bright career for a year of Santana, and a not-so-unlikely burdensome 6-year albatross contract.

    AndrewYF December 27, 2007, 12:14 pm
  • The Yankees already have Damon as a viable — though injury-prone and aging.slowing — center fielder. I think they’d probably put him there before they spend money on another one.
    It does come down to what is reasonable. I think it’s reasonable for the Yankees to reject a request of Hughes and Kennedy. Hughes, Cabrera, Marquez and someone else? That’s a much more reasonable package, to my mind. Hughes is approximately equivalent to Buchholz, a pitcher I’d hate to lose but would be OK with. Cabrera is younger than Crisp and is better with the bat, but isn’t close with the glove, so he’s somewhere between Crisp and Ellsbury in perceived value (even though we actually know far less about what we’ll get from Ellsbury going forward), Marquez and Masterson are probably around the same level, and then you’ve got your fourth.
    Would I do Buchholz-Crisp-Masterson-X for Santana? Yes.
    Hughes (Buchholz) I would think has about a 1 percent chance to give you over the next six years what Santana has a better than 50 percent chance of giving you in that same time period. Hughes may turn into the ace the Yankees need. Kennedy might, but that’s even more unlikely. Chamberlain’s starting in the bullpen. Santana is the Yanks’ best bet going forward, at least to my mind. So, naturally, I hope he goes to the Sox or the Mets.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 12:18 pm
  • Although, I will say, if Cashman can unload Igawa and the rest of his contract (it would be ridiculous if the Twins expected the Yankees to kick in ANYTHING in what is a complete salary dump), I would be in support of the deal, even if it included Hughes. I can still root for the guy since he’s not going to be a big threat for the Yankees.
    And then if the Yankees go on and win the series, we can all praise Cashman for signing Igawa as a big piece in a trade for a big part of the championship :)

    AndrewYF December 27, 2007, 12:22 pm
  • “Chamberlain’s starting in the bullpen.”
    Only if, and until, everyone, including Mussina, is healthy.
    “Hughes (Buchholz) I would think has about a 1 percent chance to give you over the next six years what Santana has a better than 50 percent chance of giving you in that same time period.”
    I don’t even know how to make sense of that statement. Hughes (And Buchholz) as a league average pitcher is very valuable when you look at how much those cost on the open market. And suffice it to say, they’re both likely to be much better than that.
    Yankee CF = can also contain Gardner. He’s not the same prospect as Ellsbury, but he’s not that far back either – same age, a tick behind in power numbers. Gardner gives plus defense and plus speed (85% SB) and he’d give a OBP of .360 to .380. He’s a great #9 hitter for the team. Between Damon and Gardner they’re covered.
    Again, I’ll say again on Igawa that if you expect Matsuzaka to improve then you have to expect the same of Igawa (esp. after his AAA numbers – better than Jon Lester, pre- and post-cancer, and another lefty in the International League, at least).

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 12:41 pm
  • Although it’s probably been mentioned several times in the endless debate, I think Melky’s arm is unfairly counted out in the ‘defense’ debate.
    How many more ‘unexpected (or whatever it’s called)’ plays did Crisp make than how many more outfield assists (which I always think are ‘unexpected’, personally) Melky made? Not to mention the runners who ran on Crisp but not on Melky due to the arms. Range-wise, Coco is clearly superior, but really, how much of that is made up by the difference in arm strength? I think the answer is a not insignificant amount.

    AndrewYF December 27, 2007, 12:53 pm
  • Matsuzaka’s improvements means that he’s now a number two starter with a solid ERA and better than league average numbers across the board. I’ll take it.
    Igawa improvments means that he’s able to get a start on a regular basis, or maybe stay on the roster for more than a week at a time as an injury fill-in.. I’ll take that too.
    Apples and oranges, but I belive both will improve greatly next year, and I’ll gladly accept an Igawa improvement to concede that Matsuzake will get better than last year as well.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 1:03 pm
  • Honestly, Andrew, I think the Crisp:Melky comp is only used to make some Sox fans feel better. They belong nowhere in the same discussion. It’s like comparing Ellsbury (or Gardner) to Juan Pierre (same age difference too).
    Melky is a good player. But this is a big year for him. He has to show an up tick in power/patience or Gardner could pass him by with a decent campaign in AAA. He gets on-base more and is more of a threat once there. Should be fun to watch. I do like cheering for the Melky/Robi combo.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 1:05 pm
  • I’m surprised the Twins would want Igawa, but if the Yanks get it done it will be a steal for them. Kudos to Cashman if it happens, though I doubt it will.
    I’m in London right now, and there are riots here as a result of Benazir Bhutto. There’s a large muslim population here, and things are getting pretty scary.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 1:14 pm
  • Some YF’s believe this. Many do not.
    I know I’m a little late in replying to this comment, but… raise your hand if you think the Yankees don’t need an ace.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 1:26 pm
  • Well, one, you left out the “desperately” part. And two, last I looked “aces” aren’t simply acquired. They have to grow somewhere. There’s no reason they can’t grow on the Yankee farm. I’d much rather miss the playoffs one year and keep potential aces, than trade them away for already proven aces to then pay them 120-140 million. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The boys at are selling t-shirts to that effect.
    It all comes down to the value. Paying twice for Santana makes little sense. That’s why no team has done it – yet. Hopefully the fool will be Theo.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 1:35 pm
  • I don’t think that adding the best pitcher in the game makes anyone a fool. Just my opinion, but I think it makes a little sense.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 1:39 pm
  • Aquiring a player of Santana’s calibre is not “foolish”, even if you were to give up two top-tier prospects. I would gladly give Ellsbury and Lester for Santana, or Hughes+Kennedy if I were a YF.
    In the end, I think it is very likely that one of the two sides will cave in and offer more players. However, that doesn’t make them a fool. It’s risky putting so many eggs in one basket, but if there was ever a player to do it for it would be Santana.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 1:43 pm
  • Wait, so trading prospects for an ace, and then locking that ace up for a long time makes no sense?
    Good thing Dan Duquette was a “fool” in 1997, I guess.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 1:47 pm
  • No, but paying twice is silly. And honestly, I think the Twins are playing this right. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t have to trade Santana. So they’re insisting on getting a very good deal or not making a deal at all. For a new GM, that’s exactly what he should be doing. Worst case, they have a contending team and get two first-round picks.
    But yeah, I know I’d be pleased to watch the Sox trade their pitching depth and their starting CF for the next five-seven years plus add another 120-140 million. I’d have no problem with the Yankees being underdogs for a change.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 1:50 pm
  • Also, though I think it’s pretty obvious, I’ll clarify my “simply isn’t accurate” line, which was referring clearly to the idea that the Twins have “reduced” their offer by saying they’ll accept Marquez. Three weeks ago, reports already had the Twins accepting Marquez, so obviously there was no reduction going on, as those who read Chass’ article have said — not that I blame them. They thought they were reading the NYT, not realizing they were reading Murray Chass.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 1:51 pm
  • In addition to Pedro (when it comes to trading for Aces), I do believe the Yankees trading for Clemens in 1999 was a success. And they traded David Wells, who went 18-4 with a 3.49 ERA the previous year.
    Was that a mistake too, Mike? Wells wasn’t even a prospect at the time: he was a proven veteran!

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 1:54 pm
  • Everyone pays twice to keep good pitching if they don’t develop it themselves. The only “silly” thing going on here is the logic I’m hearing.
    The Sox traded prospects for Josh Beckett, and then signed him to an extension several months later. Did they pay twice? Yes. Was it worth it? Absoltuely.
    The Red Sox traded for Curt Schilling, and then signed him to a contract. Also paying him twice.
    Turns out the Red Sox actually had to pay Pedro Martinez seven times — once every year! (or maybe dozens of times, once every month, or hundreds of times, once every week?) — after paying in prospects to get him from the Expos.
    Those acquisitions and subsequent extensions have resulted in two world championships in four years. Hard to say that’s “silly.”
    The question is whether the dual prices are worth it. The fact that there are dual prices is not the objectionable part of this deal. That’s just business in baseball.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 1:57 pm
  • Worst case, they have a contending team and get two first-round picks.
    Even if the Tigers HADNT made their blockbuster trade, the Twins wouldn’t be contending in 2008. Sure they don’t have to trade Santana, but if they don’t then they lose out. Prospects are more valuable than draft picks, any day of the week.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 1:58 pm
  • Acquiring a potential ace one year before free agency is very different from acquiring that same pitcher three years before free agency. And that’s why the former is paying twice while the latter isn’t. Mark my words – if either the Yanks or Sox have to give more in prospects, Santana ain’t going to either. I could see Minaya going overboard, but again better him than the Yanks.
    P.s. In looking at Lester’s Minor League numbers, and comparing them Igawa, I have no idea what the big deal about him is, besides being left-handed. The only thing he does particularly well at is in not giving up homeruns, and even then it doubled when he got to the majors. His K:BB and WHIP are pretty mediocre. He’s far, very far, below what Kennedy did last year.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:00 pm
  • Acquiring a potential ace one year before free agency
    Pedro was one year away from free agency, with only one truly ace-like year under his belt, as was Schilling, who was far older than Santana is now. Schilling had a NTC that he would waive only if there was a deal to his liking in place.
    Both those deals were risks — Pedro’s moreso because of the talent and money involved. But they were risks worth taking because the Boston management in both cases decided the price was worth it, and didn’t stand on the principle of “not paying twice.”

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 2:08 pm
  • Bah, I mean: “In both cases, Boston management decided the price was worth it, and didn’t stant on the principle of ‘not paying twice,’ and clearly their decisions proved wise.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 2:10 pm
  • Who’s starting games for the Tigers? Funny but where folks here think starting pitching is so important, the Twins have, on paper, the best starting pitching in that division with the Indians a close second. Dontrelle Willis has done nothing to change that.
    In a time where the Yanks got Chamberlain and Kennedy in the 2006 draft (and with very late picks), it’s very hard to argue a difference between prospects and draft picks.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:11 pm
  • Lets have the Lester/Kennedy argument later this year. Right now, there are too many outside factors surrounding the issues of both of them. Either way, I don’t think either of them are the cat’s meow at all.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 2:12 pm
  • And if you look at both of their MLB numbers, Mike, you’ll see that they’re nowhere near each other. Igawa had an ERA of 6.25 in 67 innings, while Lester had an ERA of 4.57 in 60 innings. Comparing their minor league stats, when they have pitched in a combined 43 games, is somewhat irrelevant isn’t it?

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 2:15 pm
  • Neither Pedro or Schilling expected six or seven years at 120 to 140 million.
    Pedro got 6 years/$75M and coming off a Cy Young (219 ERA+) and at age 25.
    Schilling got 3 years/$37.5M after a difficult year.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:16 pm
  • the Twins have, on paper, the best starting pitching in that division with the Indians a close second.
    You mean the starting rotation that had the 18th-best ERA in the majors last year, which ranked worse than the Tigers AND the Indians? Sure Liriano might be back next year, but I that’s a wild card considering we don’t know how he will recover from surgery. Are you honestly saying that the Tigers, with Miguel Cabrera on their team, are weaker than the Twins?

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 2:22 pm
  • Well, then we’re talking the actual cost, which is a perfectly legitimate discussion.
    While you’ve said many times you believe the cost is too high, which is fine, you also flat-out asserted that “paying twice is silly.” Clearly, it is not.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 2:23 pm
  • Seriously? You’re using ERA to argue a pitcher’s worth?
    More importantly, I’m just countering the rampant comparison that Lester is somehow equal to Kennedy in a trade. I see nothing whatsoever in their histories to suggest that equivalence.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:24 pm
  • If there were such a thing as an MLB CPI (Contract Price Index), I would guess the Pedro deal in 1997 would look quite similar to the reported contact demands of Santana in 2007 (in MLB-inflation adjusted dollars)

    VicSF December 27, 2007, 2:24 pm
  • Paying twice is silly. And that’s exactly what this deal would be.
    Neither the Pedro deal nor the Schilling deal was paying twice. The prospects traded were worse than those being discussed and the dollars given in an extension were less than market value. Here, the Twins want the very best prospects AND Santana wants a top of the market deal.
    Good luck finding a historical comparison.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:28 pm
  • More importantly, I’m just countering the rampant comparison that Lester is somehow equal to Kennedy in a trade. I see nothing whatsoever in their histories to suggest that equivalence.
    Except for the fact that the Twins–who are the only ones who have opinions that matter in this situation–value Jon Lester very highly. Objectively I would probably value Kennedy higher, but the Twins certainly don’t.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 2:29 pm
  • Why the need to prove Kennedy’s worth to us in comparison with Lester? It’s the Twins decision that matters, if at all. Who cares about Kennedy or Lester in the grand scheme? Neither will ever approach the ace status, thus leaving them both as tradeable pieces to improve the status of a ballclub. Either’s performances can probably be replaced faily easily.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 2:31 pm
  • Pavano circa 1997 is not the same as Phil Hughes circa 2007. Further, the Sox gave up no major league players and only one other prospect (the immortal Tony Armas Jr).
    The Twins want multiple very good prospects and major league-ready talent while Santana wants 120-140 million, easily surpassing any other pitching deal in history.
    Paying twice is silly AND foolish.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:33 pm
  • The prospects traded were worse than those being discussed and the dollars given in an extension were less than market value.
    This is absolutely untrue in the Martinez case. Pavano was a blue-chip prospect, one of the best in the game, and Armas was a lower-level, but still promising, pitching prospect. The Red Sox signed Pedro to a contract that made him the richest pitcher in the game and the second-richest player in AAV — much like what Santana is seeking. Hindsight is skewing your perception of that deal, which was met with more than its share of hand-wringing at the time, with many concerned about Pedro’s ability to jump leagues, stay healthy and ever be able to repeat his 1997 performance over the next six years.
    And I’m curious when paying twice doesn’t count as paying twice. Only when you say so, or what? In the Martinez and Schilling cases, the Sox paid once in prospects and again in dollars. That is — by my ability to understand the English language — “paying twice.” Just because they don’t support your blanket assumptions doesn’t mean they are invalid comparisons for study.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 2:33 pm
  • Randy Johnson?
    Didn’t NY give away their best catching prospect then turn right around and give RJ a huge (dollar wise) extension?

    Brad December 27, 2007, 2:35 pm
  • We’ll see if the Twins value Lester “highly”. Somehow I think that if they did, this trade would have already been made. Lester and Crisp fronting an offer is pretty laughable, if you ask me.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:37 pm
  • And yet the Twins seriously considered it, enough so that the Sox remained “the frontrunners” almost throughout the entire month. Whether the deal gets done or not, the Twins considered him more highly than Hughes. I think it’s crazy that they do, but that’s the truth of it and you know so.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 2:42 pm
  • Dioner was never a top-flight prospect. Grade B-, at best. It was a pu pu platter of prospects for Unit.
    “Pavano circa 1997 is not the same as Phil Hughes circa 2007.” The Sox also didn’t include their starting CF and another two prospects.
    Meanwhile, here’s the breakdown on Pedro’s extension:
    98:$7M, 99:$10.5M, 00:$11M, 01:$12.5M, 02:$13.5M
    Not only was it backloaded, but by 2001 he was underpaid. Further, because he was 25 when he signed it, by the last year he was 31. Santana starts his next deal at 30.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:44 pm
  • “Whether the deal gets done or not, the Twins considered him more highly than Hughes. I think it’s crazy that they do, but that’s the truth of it and you know so.”
    Until the deal gets done, your opinion means just as much as mine – nothing.
    Honestly, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the Twins were trying to play the Yanks and Sox off of each other. So a lot of the “news” (Lester > Hughes, medical reports, Lowrie to 3B) was expressly for that purpose. When that failed, the Twins were exposed. They’re ready to hang onto Santana (perhaps with the hope that their billionaire own will pony up) but will trade him if they’re overwhelmed. So far they haven’t been.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 2:48 pm
  • Mike, it’s not my opinion–it’s fact! Every single newspaper reported that the Twins liked the Red Sox deal (with Lester) more than the Yankee one (with Hughes). My opinion is that they were crazy to like the Sox deal more.
    And since you’re saying that opinions mean “nothing”, then your opinion that the Twins were playing the Yanks and Sox off each other is ignorable as well. The reports that we do have, where the Twins valued Lester very highly, are more likely true. Occam’s razor and whatnot.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 2:56 pm
  • Again, I’m not disputing that Santana’s case is different, and as such, the price the Twins command for him and then the price he commands for himself might be different, and might ultimately be too high for either the Sox or the Yanks (or both). This is a well-versed argument that we’ve been having for a month now.
    But that is a far different argument from the one you’ve been trying to have — that apparently doing this regardless of how low the price is (“paying twice is silly”) should be unacceptable to a smart organization. That argument is clearly a non-starter, as I’ve shown above.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 2:57 pm
  • “Whether the deal gets done or not, the Twins considered him more highly than Hughes.”
    Not that I am siding with Mike here BUT, your original comment Atheose is above. It said nothing about a package, but rather the player. I think Jon Lester is a solid pitcher, but I don’t think there is anyone is baseball that would agree with Jon Lester being better (LT) then Hughes. If you are speaking package wise, then sure. But that’s also because the Twins (reportedly) aren’t high on Cabrera. Package, I agree. Player, I don’t.

    John - YF December 27, 2007, 3:03 pm
  • Yeah, sorry John, meant the package not the player. But considering the package was centered around Lester, while the Yankee package was centered around Hughes, it’s obvious that at the least the Twins value Lester pretty highly. I sure as hell don’t know WHY they value him so highly, but they do. And that was my main point when arguing Mike–that the Twins value Lester higher than Kennedy.

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 3:08 pm
  • I think Mike made the suggestion that Lester was not better than Kennedy, not Hughes. Though, I’m lazy and could be wrong. Either way, I think it’s too soon to tell in any scenario.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 3:11 pm
  • Yeah, my point was that if the Twins favoured the Lester package over the Hughes package, then at the very least they think highly of Lester and not very of Hughes. Not necessarilly that they think Lester is better than Hughes, but whatever their logic is they must think highly of Lester.
    If they valued Kennedy higher than Lester, wouldn’t they ask for Kennedy in place of Hughes?

    Atheose December 27, 2007, 3:14 pm
  • “Paying twice is silly AND foolish”.
    Pedro cost much less in prospects than in dollars. Schilling too. Unit too. There was no paying twice because there really wasn’t an initial price. It was more a bar that needed to be met – like the Abreu deal.
    Indeed, I’d argue the Santana deal is one where the trading team (Twins) is not trading because they have to. They’re trading IF they have to. And so far, they don’t have to. The haul in return is very substantial (much more so than any of Pavano, Schiling, Hudson, Mulder, Unit etc) and yet it’s still not enough?
    And of course my opinions mean nothing. But ask yourself why you were reading those things in the paper. Somewhere, somebody had motives to tell the reporter those things. My guess is it was to drive up the price on the Yankees. And the Sox and Twins had every reason to collude there. Hard for me to trust any report in that environment, especially since the Sox and Twins have had plenty of time to get the deal done when plenty of people said (Gammons, Olney, Edes) it all but was. Funny, but I’m still waiting…

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 3:15 pm
  • not if Hughes was there to ask for. If he’s not untouchable, as Cashman has said, then he’s the better option, and if he is, they feel that Lester is better than Kennedy, which in my mind, is a toss up right now.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 3:17 pm
  • “…Lester is better than Kennedy, which in my mind, is a toss up right now.”
    Based on what? It’s not age and it’s not numbers. So what is it that makes you say that?

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 3:24 pm
  • I think this has been stated above, but the Pedro acquisition for Pavano and Armas is a pretty good comparison for any potential Santana deal. You can quibble about exact specifics, but in fact the Sox were trading away their absolute best prospect, a pitcher, one ranked #6 in all of baseball (I think) by BA at the time. The difference is that Pedro didn’t have a no-trade, so this was either a one-year acquisition or a several year acquisition, not all-or-nothing, as is the case with Santana, who can effective nix a deal without an extension in place. Pedro couldn’t do this.
    Using the Consumer Price Index (probably not a great method, but you use what you can get) from 1997 through the present, Pedro’s deal (6/75 in 1997 dollars) would be worth 6/98M in 2007 dollars, so about 16.33M per year.
    You can use other methods here:
    to compare values of dollars through 2006, though we are nearly in 2008 so you need to make some assumptions to play the numbers out further.

    SF December 27, 2007, 3:25 pm
  • Pedro cost much less in prospects than in dollars.
    Not at the time. Pavano flamed out, like many prospects do, but he was one of the top prospects in baseball at the time. I for one worried mroe about losing him than I did how much the Sox were paying.
    So you’re basically saying that “paying twice” only counts when the price in prospects is high enough to be considered “payment.” This strikes me as an unnecessarily creative use of the English language, and it also makes you the arbiter over whether a team must “pay twice” and then be considered — by you — to have been “silly and foolish.” This strikes me as highly convenient reasoning. All players have a price, even if it’s a low one, and all players traded for and signed to an extension have dual prices, by any reasonable definition.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 3:29 pm
  • And I would add that MLB’s inflation has jumped higher in 10 years than the CPI’s. After all, $13 million per year was record-breaking for a pitcher in 1997. It’s middle-range now.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 3:31 pm
  • Thanks for actual facts, SF. I’ll quibble with your conclusion though.
    So let me get this straight:
    1) Sox traded Pavano and a PTBNL (turned out to be Armas). Twins want Hughes (comparable to Pavano if you believe BA’s rankings – I don’t) AND a starting CF AND another two B/C prospects
    2) Pedro got 6/98 in today’s dollars when he was 25. Santana wants at least 6/120 to start when he’s 30.
    3) Pedro could be traded without his assent. Johan can not.
    If I squint real tight, I can maybe see a similarity. But there are significant differences, most especially because the price is much, much steeper for Santana in prospects, dollars, and age/risk.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 3:33 pm
  • Uh…
    Pedro may have “gotten” 13 million in 1997, but he didn’t actually get it until 2002.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 3:35 pm
  • Mike, it’s just my opinion, man. I didn’t say one is better or worse, but I think it’s a toss up. Lester throws harder, and has been through a lot as a young man, and overcame it. Kennedy has good movement, and is pretty talented in his own right. Either could succeed and either could flop. We have to wait, but until then, neither has done ANYTHING at the ML level to make such accusations and predictions. MiL means absolutely nothing to me at this point. We can have this discussion more clearly at the end of this year, because if you think it’s fair to Lester to use his numbers in the past two years as a guage to see what he will be, then I don’t know how seriously anyone should be taking you at this point.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 3:38 pm
  • Mike, you don’t belive in BA’s rankings, but cite MiL numbers several times on here as support of your argument(s)? Those same numbers are exactly what BA’s lists are formed by.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 3:42 pm
  • Fair enough, Brad. But if we go by what Kennedy accomplished last year, and the fact that he’s a year younger, he’s the better prospect. He put up numbers at every level that Lester has never put up at any level.
    But sure, another year of data will help greatly.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 3:44 pm
  • All those assertions you make about what Santana wants (6/120), what the Twins want (all those prospects!), to restate what you yourself (Mike) said in the second post in this long cascade of posts, “you have no way of knowing this”. Yet you portray your own knowledge as airtight, factual, while everyone else’s is conjecture, biased opinion, and somewhat weightless.

    SF December 27, 2007, 3:44 pm
  • Not true, Brad. They factor in talent, stuff, tools, and hype significantly into those lists. That’s fine. But it’s also why they so often list utter flame outs. For instance, Jose Tabata, no matter how good he “looks”, should never have appeared on that list until he could do something significant with that “stuff”.
    Also, I meant I trust those lists from 1997 much less than I would today. The sabermetric revolution was just kicking in then. Whereas now we are much further along. Still, I wish they used actual performance criteria more. Cano and Wang, for instance, were never listed.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 3:49 pm
  • Uh…
    Actually I said: “And of course my opinions mean nothing.”

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 3:53 pm
  • Frankly, Mike, your opinion of the BA list is not relevant to this conversation.
    The BA is highly thought of across baseball, and as an objective arbiter it’s useful for the discussion. Pavano held the same general position on that list at the time of the Pedro trade that Hughes and Buchholz do now, and to dismiss Pavano in hindsight as being of less caliber is simply disingenuous. He may have been less talented; I wouldn’t disagree with that statement. But proportional to the strength of the league’s prospects at the time, Pavano was thought of just as highly as Hughes or Buchholz is now.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 3:55 pm
  • Paul:
    Pavano was of lesser caliber based on his minor league performances compared to both Hughes and Buchholz. But the salient point is that the Sox were trading the best prospect in their system and one of the most highly touted pitching prospects in the game at the time for a player who was demanding a massive (biggest in history!) extension.
    But Pavano wasn’t, at least by the pure numbers, as “good” a prospect as either Buchholz or Pavano. Though that’s not entirely relevant either, since the context was different in 1997 and Pavano was what he was relative to everyone else: he was one of the absolute best in the minors, at least according to scouts and evaluators. His value, at the time, wasn’t that incomparable to the current guys.

    SF December 27, 2007, 3:59 pm
  • From Charley Walters (Pioneer Press):
    Although the Twins are in stalemated trade talks with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, they say they are serious – and just not posturing – about trying to keep Santana, 28, in Minnesota.
    “That remains our goal, our first choice, and I’m not going to veer from that,” St. Peter said. “We are comfortable with that scenario if that’s the best thing for the Twins’ organization.”
    The Twins may be comfortable with a third-place finish and two draft picks heading into a new ballpark. I’m not sure there fans would be.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 3:59 pm
  • Though that’s not entirely relevant either, since the context was different in 1997 and Pavano was what he was relative to everyone else: he was one of the absolute best in the minors, at least according to scouts and evaluators. His value, at the time, wasn’t that incomparable to the current guys.
    That’s what I meant, if it’s not what I said.

    Paul SF December 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
  • Actually, Pavano was a step below where Hughes is going into each trade. The season before he was rated at #17 – behind such pitching immortals as Matt White and Kris Benson as well as Colon and Wood. By contrast, Hughes was at #4, and since Dice-K was a bit different, was rated as the best pitching prospect in all of baseball.
    Going into the next season after the trade Pavano was still behind White, Benson, and Wood at #9. Hughes is different now with significant major league experience under his belt he won’t be listed.
    The point remains: The Twins want much, much more for Santana than the Expos got for Pedro.
    The lists are fun and all. But they’re not the end all. They miss a lot of guys and they overvalue a lot of guys. They’re a part of the discussion, with actual stats, but they don’t by themselves settle anything, especially not for pitchers where it’s much more hit and miss.
    Glad to see the Twins will be hanging onto Santana though. Call me not surprised.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 4:11 pm
  • The Expos could have gotten a lot more for Pedro. But, they were run by idiotic management and settled for a package of pretty good prospects. Please note, though: just because you’re getting a team’s ‘top prospect’ doesn’t mean he’s any better in any way when looked at in a vacuum. The Astros’ top prospect is a guy named Felipe Paulino. Does that make him more valuable than Ian Kennedy, the Yankees third-best pitching prospect? Of course not, but you could hear someone say that the Astros have their ‘top’ prospect in the deal, and the Yankees don’t, so the Astros are giving up more. Don’t fall for it. Saying so-and-so is giving up so-and-so ‘top ten prospects’ means next to nothing. The number of ‘top-ten’ prospects matter only to that teams’ fans, not to comparisons to any other package on any other team.

    AndrewYF December 27, 2007, 5:34 pm
  • Excellent point, Andrew. A perfect example is the recent Haren trade. The D’backs gave up a 4 of their top 10 prospects, but probably only two fall into the Oakland top 10, though Gonzalez may be best in their system now.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 5:42 pm
  • In 2007, Hughes had a 4.46 ERA in 13 appearances (72 innings).
    So I’m curious what the basis is for calling him “one of the top prospects” in the Major Leagues.

    Hudson December 27, 2007, 5:52 pm
  • Not sure what you are getting at, Hudson. Hughes is a great prospect, and his initial numbers and performance at the ML level were pretty darn respectable.
    He’s a talent with tremendous upside, if all works out. That’s a “top prospect”, by any definition.

    SF December 27, 2007, 5:55 pm
  • P.S. Lester went 11-2 in the regular season, plus a key World Series win, in 2007.
    His ERA was not particularly stellar (4.68) but you can hardly put him “far, far below” Hughes, especially given that this was Lester’s second year of Major League play.
    Until Hughes has been sized up by A.L. hitters as much as Lester has, I see no basis whatsoever for Mike putting him below Hughes.

    Hudson December 27, 2007, 6:01 pm
  • Seriously, can people stop using ERA as an indicator of pitching worth? Really, please. At least cite ERA+.
    But yeah, I’m comfortable saying Phil, as a 21 year old, hasn’t lost any of his luster. You know, the best pitching prospect in baseball label given to him by BaseballAmerica. Wouldn’t want to call those lists into question!
    Still I can base that on actual facts:
    In those 73 IP: 58 K, 29 BB, 1.28 WHIP
    His post-season pitching was tastier:
    2 G, 5.2 IP, 6 K, 0 BB, 3 H, 1 ER
    Sure, there’s room to improve. But he has plenty of time.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 6:03 pm
  • “Hughes is a great prospect… He’s a talent with tremendous upside.”
    These are empty slogans without stats or other evidence to back them up.
    I’ve given you Hughes and Lester’s 2007 numbers.
    So again: What is the factual basis for the insanely high valuation of Hughes?

    Hudson December 27, 2007, 6:06 pm
  • (Correction: Lester is 11-2 *lifetime*. He was 4-0 in 2007 with a 4.58 ERA. His 2007 numbers are surprisingly close to Hughes’.)
    Meanwhile, here’s another Hughes factoid: Home ERA: 5.91, road ERA: 3.11.

    Hudson December 27, 2007, 6:12 pm
  • And while we’re at it, can we please ignore wins and losses? Shoot, if Hughes puts up those numbers over full season, he comes close to winning 20 games. That’s what Unit did – twice.
    Here’s the mL comparison of Hughes to Lester, with the qualification that Hughes is two years younger. Heck, I’ll throw in Kennedy too (a year younger than Lester:
    Phil: 275 IP 5.56 H/9 2.16 BB/9 10.18 K/9 0.86 WHIP
    IanK: 149 IP 5.62 H/9 3.14 BB/9 9.97 K/9 0.97 WHIP
    Lest: 483 IP 7.99 H/9 3.78 BB/9 8.31 K/9 1.31 WHIP
    It’s no contest really. The Yankees are younger and better, at every level.
    That doesn’t mean Lester can’t be a good major league pitcher. As a lefty he has an advantage.

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 6:13 pm
  • And if you want to use major league numbers:
    Phil: 73 IP, 7.93 h/9, 3.59 bb/9, 7.18 k/9, 1.28 whip
    IanK: 19 IP, 6.16 h/9, 4.26, bb/9, 7.11 k/9, 1.16 whip
    Lest: 144 IP, 9.48 h/9, 4.61 bb/9, 6.86 k/9, 1.57 whip
    Notice any trends? Across the board, the Yankees have the better K rates, BB rates, and WHIP. Since IPK’s major league sample is so small you have to give the edge to Hughes.
    So a proper ranking of the three goes:
    1. Hughes
    2. Kennedy
    3. Lester
    If you want to argue anything for the Sox, argue that Buchholz > Hughes. That’s at least close and depends on how you weight the larger sample of mL numbers against the smaller sample of ML numbers.
    Of course, all this could change in one year. Even more reason to watch the games!

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 6:24 pm
  • Hudson, if you’re trying to actually say that Lester and Hughes are comparable as young pitchers, you’re dead wrong.
    If you’re trying to play some kind of devil’s advocate, I don’t really see the point.

    AndrewYF December 27, 2007, 7:28 pm
  • For completeness, here’s the other two relevant prospects included:
    mL careers –
    Phil: 275 IP 5.56 H/9 2.16 BB/9 10.18 K/9 0.86 WHIP
    IanK: 149 IP 5.62 H/9 3.14 BB/9 9.97 K/9 0.97 WHIP
    Lest: 483 IP 7.99 H/9 3.78 BB/9 8.31 K/9 1.31 WHIP
    Joba: 88 IP 6.33 H/9 2.76 BB/9 13.79 K/9 1.01 WHIP
    Clay: 285 IP 6.60 H/9 2.43 BB/9 11.23 K/9 1.00 WHIP
    ML career –
    Phil: 73 IP, 7.93 h/9, 3.59 bb/9, 7.18 k/9, 1.28 whip
    IanK: 19 IP, 6.16 h/9, 4.26, bb/9, 7.11 k/9, 1.16 whip
    Lest: 144 IP, 9.48 h/9, 4.61 bb/9, 6.86 k/9, 1.57 whip
    Joba: 24 IP, 4.50 h/9, 2.25 bb/9, 12.75 k/9, 0.75 whip
    Clay: 23 IP, 5.56 h/9, 3.97 bb/9, 8.74 k/9, 1.06 whip
    Based on all that, I think you have to go:
    1. Joba
    2a. Laptop
    2b. Hughes
    4. Kennedy
    5. Lester

    Mike YF December 27, 2007, 9:20 pm
  • ha.
    You’re funny, Mike.
    I can’t wait for one of these guys to implode. The steeper the fall, the better. Anything short of tears on the way off the field will be disappointing. After all the “he’s so much better at every level” and “they’re all younger and better” and “he’s one year younger!!” stuff.
    Give them time, bro. Lester has gone through more in the past two years than we can imagine. I know you’re excited about what might be, but curbing could do you some good. How many of any of these kids ever work out to what we “think” they will when coming up? Let Hughes stay healthy for a month or two, or any of them pitch close to a full year, or so on and so on. It’s dangerous to stamp some things with a “certainty” label when they certainly are not. It’s all hype until it happens, and nobody does that better than New York and Boston.

    Brad December 27, 2007, 11:15 pm
  • And, all of the sudden Joba is the best starting pitcher among all of these guys? Really? Can he start at least one game, please? It’s fine if you want to shit on Lester, but can your number one go more than one inning at a time a few times around the league? I mean, he may be the spawn of baseball gods, but can he pitch into the third inning a few times? Maybe face a batter twice or show us that he can tote that Bartolo-esque body out there all year?

    Brad December 27, 2007, 11:22 pm
  • Or not be in the bullpen to start the year?

    Brad December 27, 2007, 11:23 pm
  • Uh…
    Almost every one of Joba’s mL innings were as a starter. And in case you have noticed, his numbers were so ridiculous, and even moreso as a setup guy, there’s no reason any of the other kids could be ranked ahead of him. But why don’t you give an actual argument a shot?
    By the way, none of this means what will happen to these guys. It’s just my assessment of where they are at right now, based strictly on the numbers. Feel free to take another shot.
    And here I thought I was being generous in putting Laptop slightly ahead of Hughes.

    Mike YF December 28, 2007, 1:53 am
  • Numbers are only half the equation when looking at a prospect, are they not? Scouting plays a large role also — poise, stuff, makeup. Often, the sample sizes at a minor-league level are pretty small, making luck a much larger factor in how the numbers look.
    So looking “strictly (at) the numbers”, though the best we can do, is still looking at an incomplete picture.

    Paul SF December 28, 2007, 8:21 am
  • I don’t know about “half the equation”. I’d say they’re much more than that, especially when you have numbers from upper levels of the farm. How much exactly I have no idea, but I’d like to see an argument how numbers are worth less than 80-90% of a prospect assessment. Of course, the more numbers you have, the more likely they’ll be representative.
    Further, won’t “poise, stuff, makeup” eventually come out in the numbers eventually any ways? If it doesn’t then really what does the player add? The ability to look good?
    The fact is, all of these assessments are momentary snapshots and we have no idea what the future holds, even more so for pitching prospects. I’m just saying that’s we’re they are at now. A year from now we’ll know much more (and a year after that and after that…).

    Mike YF December 28, 2007, 8:53 am
  • Well, I trust your professional opinion, Mike. I’m sure your’re much more experienced in such things as player development, talent levels, tools, and the like. I’m sorry I questioned your judgement, sir.

    Brad December 28, 2007, 9:00 am
  • I know you’re being completely facetious, but don’t trust my opinion. Use your brain and come up with some counterpoints if you don’t agree. Otherwise I’ll take your silence as tacit approval!
    It should be interesting, but I can’t see how BaseballAmerica doesn’t rate Joba and Buchholz versus the field as #1 and #2 in all of baseball. Of course, I’m sure folks around here will be much more interested in the exact order. Still, that’s pretty cool. Good on both organizations.

    Mike YF December 28, 2007, 9:12 am
  • again, I’m in approval. You’re right. End of discussion. My little brain can’t come up with a counter opinion argument to your argument. I’m sorry to have gotten all tipsy and questioned it. Forgive me.

    Brad December 28, 2007, 9:26 am
  • Once again, B-rad shows us why he is a shining example of maturity and informed, rational discussion. All that’s missing is notifying us that he’s plugging his ears and going “nah-nah-nah.”
    Seriously, cut the “Look! I’m using SARCASM!” act and quit acting like a passive-aggressive preteen. Mike has at the least been patient and has done a good job of backing his opinions, no matter their validity with stuff like facts and stats. The saddest part is you, Brad, could be a solid dude to talk baseball with, but pulling immature whiny crap like this makes that impossible.

    doug YF December 29, 2007, 4:11 am
  • doug- brads non-tacit approval of everything mike had to say came after the baiting comments like….
    “But why don’t you give an actual argument a shot?” and
    “Feel free to take another shot.”
    before that the conversation was civil. mike wouldn’t accept brads feeling that prospects are prospects until proven otherwise. brad wouldn’t buy mikes idea that mL numbers are good indicators of ML success.
    my questions are……how long are we going to call hughes a prospect? was this his red shirt year or what? does bill james have an equation for fragility?

    sf rod December 29, 2007, 6:00 am
  • Thanks Doug. I find it best to ignore that nonsense.
    If we’re doing comparisons, Hughes is much more of a prospect than Lester. But technically, neither will be on the prospect lists.
    This year is big for Phil. Even still, he doesn’t turn 22 until the end of June – older only than Joba of the five and by three months at that. I’d say I’m happy with 150 innings of 110 ERA+. Conversely, any less and I’m disappointed.

    Mike YF December 29, 2007, 8:21 am
  • I think it’s fine to call Hughes a prospect and an elite one, given his performance at the major league level at the age of 21. Certainly, it’s not unreasonable to project very good things for him, better than what he did in his first season, considering his age, his profile as a prospect, his very good peripherals. His injury issues are, however, a point of concern for me.
    What I can glean from the myriad Johan rumor articles is that Hughes is, in fact, the biggest prospect being dangled by any of the teams. Where the Yanks are losing in the “race” (one of these days I will post something about how this metaphor doesn’t work) is the fact that their prospect package is not very deep unlike the Sox offer.

    Nick-YF December 29, 2007, 8:48 am
  • The “race” is a convenient myth perpetuated by the Sox and Twins front offices. Since reporters are only privy to what they’re told, there’s no more validity to what we hear than what the unnamed “executives” want us to hear. It’s in both teams’ interest to make the Sox seem ahead.
    If the Twins really wanted to make the move, they would have made it already. Unless a team blows them away with an offer, it ain’t happening.

    Mike YF December 29, 2007, 9:33 am

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