Enough of what we think of the Johan Santana trade — what about the other side? How do Twins fans feel about getting four top prospects from the New York Mets?
Twins blogger Seth Stohs of SethSpeaks.net, claims he was neither “thrilled nor disappointed” with the Santana-to-Mets deal … but that wasn’t enough for me. MetsToday reached out to Seth and asked him to give us the the general feeling of a Twins fan entering the 2008 season. For example, with Santana gone, is there the assumption that the Twins are not targeting the postseason? Or is there still optimism about jumping over Detroit and Cleveland in what looks to be a very competitive AL Central this year? And who now steps forward as the ace of the staff? Finally, are there more exits on the way … in particular, Joe Nathan?
Following is Seth’s response …
It has been a long and very interesting winter in Minnesota. Normally, the Twins don’t have a lot going on in the offseason. A couple of low-level free agent signings, but that is about it. This year, it was all Twins all the time. Of course, the majority of that was consumed with the Johan Santana sweepstakes which took forever to resolve itself.
In trying to speak for the average Twins fan, I definitely feel that the assumption is that the Twins are giving up on 2008 and building toward 2010. Twins fans are upset because they assumed that because the Twins will be moving into a new stadium in 2010 that they will start spending money unwisely. They are upset at the loss of Santana on top of the loss of Carlos Silva on top of the loss of Torii Hunter. The feeling is that this is typical Twins; going cheap and being a minor league team for the big spenders with players once they become too spendy. The feel like they aren’t getting any big name players ready to help the Twins in 2008.
In my mind, I have said that I think that with Johan Santana, the Twins could win 77-82 games in 2008. Without Santana, I feel this team can win 74-79 games. I don’t think that the players they lost are the reason that they likely won’t compete in 2008. The fact is that the AL Central is the best division in baseball from top to bottom. Obviously the Tigers and Cleveland will again be very strong. The White Sox have no direction, but they won’t be really bad. And Kansas City is just getting better and better. The Twins made a smart move and one they had to make. I also think that the players that the Twins received from the Mets will all have a very positive impact on the Twins. I think Gomez and Humber will already help the team in 2008. Mulvey could be ready by July and Guerra may be the biggest impact of all of them.
The problem is that names like Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie, Phil Hughes, Jon Lester and Melky Cabrera were mentioned as possibilities. Those guys have names that the average Twins fan has heard of. They haven’t heard of the Mets guys as much. But the reality is that the upside of the new Twins is pretty exciting!
In much the same way, the Twins are left without anyone that would be classified as an Ace. Francisco Liriano certainly has the ability to be that, but coming back from Tommy John surgery, you just don’t know. Boof Bonser will likely be in the rotation. He was actually taken out of the rotation last September and told to lose 25 pounds in the offseason. He did, so it will be interesting to see how well he does. Scott Baker has dominated AAA for three years and last year, he was down to about his last start when he got a start in Shea Stadium against the Mets before the All Star break and did well. He had a good second half and maybe he turned a corner. Kevin Slowey has a chance to be special. He had a rough first go-round with the Twins, but when he came back in September, he had two walks and 28 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. After that, guys like Humber and Mulvey will compete with the likes of Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, Anthony Swarzak and others for the fifth spot in the rotation. I don’t think there is an Ace in that group, not for 2008, but that type of pitcher will develop over the course of the next season or two.
The best thing the Twins have going for those young starters is their incredible bullpen, which has to be the best in baseball. Pat Neshek and Matt Guerrier did a great job in 2007 setting up Joe Nathan. They will hopefully be assisted in 2008 by the return of Jesse Crain. Dennys Reyes hopes to reclaim his 2006 form (unlikely) and guys like Blackburn, Perkins and Brian Bass have a chance to play an important role.
My thought is that the Twins should keep Joe Nathan for the 2008 season UNLESS they are overwhelmed by an offer. First, I personally believe that the Twins and their offense can stay in contention for much of the 2008 season. If they are out of contention in July, the market for Nathan could be really great. If not, keep him and take the two draft picks.
Thanks again to Seth Stohs — we ask him to keep an eye on our former “kids” as they develop up north. Be sure to check out SethSpeaks.net to get more detail on Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra, and the rest of the Minnesota Twins.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.