The Jo-Jo Equation: Final Edition
Thursday's inspiring come from behind, late-inning victory over Tampa helped erase myriad unsettling vibes. Among them: Johan Santana's trademark second-half dominance . . . in a Mets jersey. The Santana trade has forced us to realize some of our worst fears. Here’s what I wrote in this space back in mid-March:
. . . the trade that sent Santana to the Mets was largely unpopular here in town, and I would agree with said sentiment, in short, because I truly think that the Twins are a fairly solid club this year, and, with Santana, would have had the opportunity to compete for a post-season slot.
That doesn’t make me smart. In the words of Shelly “The Machine” Levene via Glengarry Glen Ross: "A child would know it …" There is little chance that any club, in any season, in any scenario, would benefit from losing Johan Santana. But the fact that we’ve come this close to tasting the postseason fruits tended, manicured and watered through the toil of 6 months, makes this recent stretch of sour play all the more painful. The autumn juice hasn’t equaled the summer squeeze. Granted, nobody thought we’d make it this far. Few experts thoughts we’d break .500. To remind: that Vegas over/under had us at about 74 wins. The Twins usurped that on August 27th. I put us at 81, a number cracked on September 13th.
It would have been worth it to keep Santana on this club for 2008, even if we received just compensatory draft picks in return. As per what we did receive, I am no authority on minor league baseball (although Seth Stohs is, should you have yet to visit his writings). But from what I’ve followed, gathered and gleaned: Kevin Mulvey and Philip Humber were disappointments at the AAA level, although the latter hurler gathered steam in the last two months and his long relief performance on Thursday was respectable. Deolis Guerra started out like a beast in high A, then tired late. Go-Go? Well, the jury is still out in my opinion. He’s shown raw talent in his first full year in the bigs and at just 22, his future appears bright. Yet, his ’08 left much to be desired. He is still striking out way too much, he went through July without a stolen base, and dude seems to possess something of a daisy-picker mindset at times.
And Jo-Jo? His stellar ’08 has somewhat mirrored his 2006 season in that other facets of team play are making his win numbers appear lesser than he truly deserves. After Thursday night’s start, Santana ranks 7th in the N.L. in Strikeouts, 2nd in ERA, 3rd in Innings Pitched and 1st in Quality Starts. As per usual, he’s a Cy candidate, although San Fran’s Tim Lincecum will likely grab that prize.
For my dollars, should the Twins fall short of the postseason, the overlying question of 2008 comes down to this: Had we known Denard Span would be this good, would the Santana deal still have been made?
Probably. The club seemed intent on receiving walking/talking ballers for Johan instead of losing him for draft picks. But a studly Span usurps a growing Gomez, and without Go-Go in the trade, there would have been no trade. Granted, we were never going to grace Santana with the $137.5 million that the Mets did. But it readily appears that with Johan Santana in 2008, the Minnesota Twins would surely be a playoff team. Comparing his numbers to those of our plucky staff is meaningless, because his are all better (as per the aforementioned stats).
Segueing to numbers, here’s how the Johan Santana trade principals stack up for 2008. In hindsight, as with most things, I would have altered this index to better illuminate the ratio of success. There are few players in baseball -- alone, combined, whatever -- who can be compared with the great Santana. Yet the numbers, for the sake of being thorough, are what they are. To see the point system, please click here.
Pitching: 14-7, 187 Strikeouts
Fielding: 1 Error, 26 Assists
Hitting: 10-72 (.139), 5 2B- 15 Total Bases
Hitting: 31 Steals, 55 RBI, 139-542 (.256), 23 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR- 193 Total Bases
Fielding: 8 Errors, 8 Assists
Twins Minor Leaguers
Pitching: 10-8, 106 Strikeouts
Fielding: 1 Error, 9 Assists
Santana: 242 Points
Our Dudes: 447.4
With the boys playing with something perhaps best resembling a flat tire with old chewing gum stuck in the grooves -- one is also wont to consider the emotional impact Santana may have had at this funky time.
Alas, perhaps one last spark awaits. Please check back at the onset of next week for a preview of the Tuesday-Thursday White Sox series at the Dome that, with the Twins still within 2 games, looms larger than any one player ever could.