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November 28, 2007 at 10:26 AM

Santana and others

UPDATE: 1:42 P.M.: The Twins are about to make a pitching trade, but it involves young starter Matt Garza in a swap of up to six players. Going to Minnesota from Tampa Bay would be prized outfielder Delmon Young. Whoo boy, that’s going to generate some discussion. It already is down in Tampa. My old pal, La Velle E. Neal III at the Minneapolis Star Tribune is the one who broke the story — since confirmed by Keith Law of ESPN.com as well.
At first glance, this looks like a great deal for the Twins. Young is only 22 and one of the top young outfielders in baseball, despite a few much-publicized negative incidents. Garza could develop into something special, but for now is a sub.-500 pitcher who didn’t even make the team out of spring training last year. If Garza does blossom into something, the D-Rays would have one heck of a starting rotation with Scott Kazmir (who is not about to be traded), James Shields and some other hot arms coming up the pipe. Tampa also has a surplus of young talent and is one of only a handful of teams in baseball that could afford to deal a player like Young for a pitching prospect with only one full season under his belt. An outfield of Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and B.J. Upton can give you that leeway.
So, if it takes Delmon Young to pry Garza loose, what kind of return can Adam Jones generate? That Twins outfield would look very good with Young and Michael Cuddyer on the corners and Jones in center field. Just more food for thought.
11:05 A.M. : Good morning to all of you, arriving at work and checking in with what’s gone on overnight in the world of baseball. The hot topic around the game continues to be Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana and what it will take to get him. Here is a pretty intelligent story by one of the better NY writers around, summing up the pros and cons of “giving up the farm” for a pitcher of Santana’s ilk.
Not the best news for M’s fans is the fact the Boston Red Sox have also (not surprisingly) leaped into the Santana fray. The story says they are loathe to part with Jacoby Ellsbury, the CF who serves as sort of the Boston equivalent of Adam Jones. Let’s not forget that Ellsbury is more battle-tested in the majors to this point. But that part of the Boston position is interesting, especially for M’s fans who don’t feel Seattle can part with Jones. Worth remembering is that the Bosox have pitcher Clay Buchholz to dangle. He did throw a no-hitter in the majors last fall. No young pitcher the M’s have as trade bait can say that much.
Other options?
Yes, there is Erik Bedard of the Orioles, who Baltimore is trying to sign long-term. The O’s have said they won’t look seriously at a trade unless they first exhaust all attempts to ink him to a longer pact. Bedard has two seasons left under his current deal and would come cheaper than Santana money-wise. Baltimore has been known to ask for the moon when it comes to dealing marquee players and this could be a serious problem. I don ‘t see the Mariners giving up the kind of prospects being talked about in a Santana deal. Why not? Look at his history. Bedard has yet to throw 200 innings in his four seasons and has surpassed 30 starts only once. That raises some red flags about durability. Not saying he’s a bad pitcher. He is, after all, a Canadian, so that scores him points in this corner and will help the M’s in any hockey charity game. But I’m not convinced he’s worth trading a future franchise player for.
If you’re going to gamble on a pitcher with durability issues, I’d rather take a look at Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett. We discussed yesterday how he’s been a disappointment in Toronto thus far because they were looking for a potential No. 1 or No. 2 guy alongside Roy Halladay. But his current contract, at $12 million in each of the next three seasons, is much in-line with what an above-average pitcher gets these days. And Burnett’s numbers, especially his ERA, have been above average the past three seasons in spite of his shortcomings. Maturity is the big issue with this guy but he has shown signs of snapping out of the prolonged adolescence that hurt his reputation the past several seasons in Toronto and Florida.
When he’s on, Burnett is as good as any starter the M’s have right now. Perhaps better. If he can provide the better stuff more consistently, as he did in the second half of 2007, he could be a very shrewd pickup. Provided, of course, the team acquiring him does not give in to GM J.P. Ricciardi’s demands to be “blown away” by a deal. Burnett has an “out clause” in his contract that enables him to escape after this season. Chances are, he’d leave Toronto after any type of decent season, since he has no real love for jabber-mouth Ricciardi. That means Toronto is holding little leverage in a deal. It would take something of value to get Burnett. But not Adam Jones.
Just my random thoughts to start the day. Back to you in a bit…

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