Saturday, February 02, 2008

So Long, Johan

I've waited until the deal was final, all the physicals passed and the contracts signed, before commenting on the Johan Santana trade. A part of me was holding out hope that he and the Mets wouldn't get an extension done, or somehow the trade would fall through; that probably wouldn't have been good for the Twins, but at least Johan would have been ours for another year.

Ultimately, I never expected him to be a Twin forever. Some players I do - Puckett, Radke, Mauer - and losing those players to another team would be crushing. Losing Santana is hard in a different way. The career Twins are hard to lose because they are Twins; Santana is hard to lose because he's the best pitcher in baseball. Hands down, no questions asked, best pitcher in baseball. And among the greatest of all time. He's already better than Pedro was at his best. He's put up Koufax-like numbers in an era that doesn't favor pitchers. He's won two Cy Youngs despite minimal coverage in major markets. And despite all of this, if anything, he's been underappreciated.

That's right. Take it from someone who has watched him for 8 seasons. Everytime Johan steps onto the mound you have the chance to witness something magical. Everytime he starts a game you have reason to believe you'll be watching a masterpiece. And almost always, that's exactly what you'll get. He's exciting to watch in a way that no other pitcher today even approaches. He's fun. He's amazing. He's passionate. He's just so darn cute.

New York is going to love Santana. And he deserves to pitch on the biggest stage. I'm happy that he's going to get that chance, because I want him to go out and confirm for everyone what Minnesotans already know: that Johan Santana is the best pitcher of this generation, and one of the greatest of all time. Because then - at least for a time - the Twins had the greatest pitcher. That isn't something that comes around too often in Minnesota. I want Johan to convince the world.

And then, I want him to go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Twins cap. If he wins a World Series with the Mets or someone else, that probably won't happen. But he put in 8 years in Minnesota, 4 and half as the most dominant starter in baseball. He learned his devastating changeup from our coaches. He became the greatest pitcher in baseball because of what the Twins were able to do for him, and hopefully in the end he rewards them for that.

At the same time I'm sad about losing Johan, I'm cautiously optimistic about the players we got back. Gomez stands a chance of being an excellent outfielder, particularly defensively. His offense needs to improve, but maybe Mauer and Morneau will have an effect on him. An outfield of Cuddyer, Gomez, and Young could be baseball's best in two years' time. The pitchers are ok. Guerra is too young and too far away to project with any certainty, but we know the Twins minor league teams are excellent at developing young arms. Hopefully there's a collective positive effect on Humber and Mulvey too, such that they also improve beyond their back-of-the-rotation projections. There's certainly some potential in what the Twins got back, and maybe we'll someday say that this trade worked out for the Twins.

But no matter what we've lost Johan Santana. And losing the best pitcher in baseball isn't something you get over easily.

I don't know why you say goodbye

1 comment:

Maria Rose said...

Hey do you know if they are moving Mauer out of catcher and putting him at third (or wherever) I thought I heard that might happen