Johan Santana Trade: Quick Analysis
We know the value of Johan Santana — his presence instantly establishes the Mets as “the team to beat” (sorry, Jimmy Rollins). It also means that Mets are playing for 2008, and that a postseason appearance is EXPECTED.
But let’s quickly look at the players going the other way.
After Lastings Milledge was sent to Washington, Gomez emerged as the Mets’ number-one position prospect. Yes, Fernando Martinez might have more upside in the long run, but right now, Gomez is closer to MLB ready and has already proven two unteachable raw skills (speed and arm) as well as a third tool (fielding). Will he be a superstar? It’s not out of the question — it all depends on how his bat develops. He will be missed, but as was pointed out on MetsToday yesterday, there was a guy named Beltran blocking the way. I fully expect him to compete for the Twins’ starting centerfielder job, and believe that he will be their regular there by the end of 2008. For Gomez, it’s a great opportunity: he has the chance to be an everyday Major Leaguer, and do it in the friendly atmosphere of Minneapolis.
Personally, I think Humber is ready to pitch at the MLB level somewhere — but it wasn’t going to happen with the Mets. From what we’ve seen of him, there’s been some question about his stomach — meaning, I’m not so sure he was ready to handle the mental and emotional rigors of pitching under the media microscope known as New York City. Certainly, he was a longshot to make the Mets’ 25-man roster in 2008. With the Twins, he will have a better chance to crack the rotation, and he’ll be in a much more comfortable environment — which better fits his personality. I believe he has a good chance to swipe the fifth spot in their rotation with a strong spring. Otherwise, he should crack the staff one or another by 2009 the latest.
The NJ-born Mulvey would have been a nice story — local boy makes good. But let’s get serious, if Philip Humber was a longshot to make the team, Mulvey’s chances weren’t so great either — not in 2008 anyway. Though, he does in many ways resemble Brian Bannister, and probably projects to a similar ceiling. Could it be as soon as 2008? Doubtful, but he was impressive enough for me to believe he’ll vie for a spot in the Minnesota rotation in 2009. Sure, he might at best be a back-end starter — but even those #4 and #5s are hard to find.
Hard to evaluate a guy most of us have never seen pitch. Going on the various reports from scouts, Baseball America, and the like, Guerra is a big-time prospect with plenty of upside. But he’s only 18 years old, and so much can happen between now and his MLB debut. Yes, he could very well turn into a Santana-type pitcher one day, but that won’t be for at least four or five years. Further, there’s just as good a chance that he either doesn’t develop as many expect, or that he injures his arm before he makes the big leagues. While it would have been exciting to watch his progress through the ranks, he has mountains to ascend on his way to MLB.
In the end, it’s a great deal for everyone involved. The Mets, obviously, get the ace they sorely needed. The Twins get three guys who are very close to MLB-ready and a teenager who might some day be a dominating pitcher. And the four prospects going to Minnesota get a golden opportunity to mature in an ideal environment. Win – win – win all around.