Friday, December 7, 2007

Do Not Fear Santana in Red Sox

So far, it looks like the Yankees are done talking with the Minnesota Twins about Johan Santana. The fear now is that the Red Sox will get him.

Baloney. As that great New Yorker Franklin Roosevelt put it, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Fear a rotation of Santana, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, and Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz?

Uh, no. Santana's 2007 performance suggests he may already be in decline, having thrown too many innings too soon in his career. His record in the postseason (1-3, 3.97 ERA) and his performances against the American League's current top teams (Yanks, Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Anaheim Angels) suggests he's not that big an upgrade.

Schilling is 41 and injury-prone, and if he pitches beyond 2008 I'll be very surprised.

Wakefield is also old, knuckleball or no knuckleball.

Beckett is this generation's Bret Saberhagen: Great in odd-numbered years (as the Yankees found out in 2003 and 2007), not so good in even-numbered years (as the Yankees showed in that five-game sweep in Fenway in 2006). And 2008 will be an even-numbered year.

And either Lester or Buchholz, or both, would have to go to Minnesota in that trade. Besides, how do we know Buchholz isn't another Juan Nieves, another Steve Busby, another Bo Belinsky, another Bobo Holloman? Somebody who threw a no-hitter when very young and then, for whatever reason (injuries, poor handling by his team, substance abuse, whatever) practically disappeared?

The Yankees will be fine. Their current projected rotation of Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy is one I can very easily live with.

They are the New York Yankees. They are not supposed to be afraid of any team. Other teams are supposed to be afraid of them.

I know, it sounds like V for Vendetta. And, at the rate Bud Selig is tinkering with the schedule, one of these years, a World Series may indeed end on the 5th of November.


UPDATE: While Mussina retired after 2008, Wang fizzled out in 2009, and Kennedy did nothing for the Yankees and got traded away anyway, the Yankees won the 2009 World Series with Hughes, but without Santana. The Red Sox won the 2013 World Series with Lester and Buchholz, but without Santana. The Mets let Santana go after the 2013 season, after he appeared in 109 games for them -- none of them in the postseason.

Would Santana have made a difference for the Red Sox? They got within 1 game of the 2008 Pennant, got swept in the 2009 ALDS, and choked away a sure Playoff berth by 1 game in 2011. But with his injuries, there's no guarantee he would have been any better in Kenmore Square than he was in Flushing Meadow.

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