By Matthew Curtis | Enzian Theater February 1, 2008 at 3:29AM
Once Twins two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana--called "the best pitcher of this century" by ESPN baseball guru Peter Gammons--turned down Minnesota's 4 year/$80 million dollar contract extension, the writing was on the wall. The Twins had to trade him or risk getting nothing in return once his contract expired at the end of next season. And already having lost Gold Glove centerfielder Torii Hunter and veteran pitcher Carlos Silva to free agency this off season, their hand was forced. The Yankees and the Red Sox both offered packages weeks ago including a stud starting centerfielder and/or starting pitcher plus excellent minor league prospects, but the Twins held out for more, thinking NY and Boston would up their offers to trump their bitter rival and keep such a great pitcher from joining the other ballclub.
So what happened? The two AL East powers took their deals off the table and never made the Twins an offer they couldn't refuse, so now Minnesota is stuck with a deal with the NY Mets for four prospects--one outfielder and three pitchers, only two of which have had any major league experience whatsoever. Not only didn't Minny get what they were looking for in any deal for Santana (an immediate replacement in the already thin starting rotation and a replacement for Torii), they couldn't even get the Mets to give up their top outfiled prospect, Fernando Martinez. For Johan Friggin' Santana!?! Are you kidding me? No Jacoby Ellsbury, no Jon Lester, no Philip Hughes, and no Melky Cabrera. Just four prospects. Ugh! That's some nice job by the Twins new GM, Bill Smith. That should excite the fans as you get ready to move into a brand new stadium in a couple of years. Maybe you can go ahead and lose ace closer Joe Nathan while you're at it.
About the best thing I can say about this whole mess is that at least Boston didn't end up with him (which would have been kind of like the Celtics getting KG), and my sister Jolie, a die-hard Mets fan who suffered greatly at the end of last season, should be a very happy woman. Now let's see if Santana passes the physical and the Mets agree to a 6 or 7 year deal at $20 - $25 million per.