January 29, 2008

First Look: Santana Trade

Assuming that the Mets and Santana work out a contract within the next two or three days, Santana's days with the Twins are now over, and Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Gurerra and Kevin Mulvey will all be heading to Fort Myers come mid-February.

I can't say that I'm all that disappointed in the outcome, and the following reasons pretty much tell you why:

* First off, I'll take four prospects with high ceilings over two draft picks any day. Sure, they may not all be top level, but keeping Santana and trying to make a run in a tough AL Central, only to lose him for a pick at the end of the season would have been silly.

* Bill Smith had no choice, and it wasn't his fault that the whole situation came to this. Terry Ryan made the choice not to lock up Santana long term, and it came back to bite them. But in no way is Smith to blame. He made the best deal he could have possibly made.

* You might say that the Yankees and Red Sox were out there too, but what were they offering? We might never know. One thing that always happens when big players are involved are wild rumors. And, in this case there is probably no exception. Hughes didn't seem to be on the table any longer and the Red Sox didn't seem like serious contenders.

* Finally, I place a small amount of blame on the man himself, Johan Santana. Had he really wanted to be a Twin, he would have accepted the offer that the Twins reportedly made to him shortly before they traded him -- 5-years and $100 million. He is said to be seeking a 7-year, $140 million deal, and other than the years, it offers the same cash per season.

Now, lets move on and take a look at the four players coming over to Minnesota. Below you'll find strengths, weaknesses and a little added analysis.

Carlos Gomez:
Whether or not Gomez will be the starting centerfielder on March 31 is still unknown, but one thing that we do know is that Gomez immediately becomes the team's future guy at the position.

Gomez's strengths are his speed and his defense. On the scouting scale (20-80), Gomez was given a 70 for both sections. He has an above-average arm, and his speed helps as well. Some scouts question whether or not Gomez is faster than Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. Last season, he stole 41 bases on 50 attempts.

His major weaknesses are that he is a very raw player and that he is over aggressive at the plate. He has a lot of potential at the plate, and has shown that. But he is still very young and needs time to work out some kinks in his game. He has also shown poor plate discipline at times especially against left-handed pitchers.

Kevin Mulvey:
With the subtraction of ace Johan Santana, the Twins now have a very young rotation. They also have another spot open for competition, and newcomer Mulvey could very well be involved when Spring Training rolls around.

Mulvey has a total of four pitches, a fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a slider. His fastball ranges from 87-91 MPH, and can get up to 94. The fastball dives in on right-handed hitters which explains their .224 average against him. His curveball reaches mid-70's, and has 11-to-5 break. His slider is his put-away pitch reaching the mid-80's. His changeup is his worst of the four, but is overall and average pitch.

Kevin's major weakness thus far his been his production against left-handed hitters. He pitches poorly to them because he can't jam them with his fastball, one of the things that makes him so affective against right-handers. His changeup also needs work, something pitching coach Rick Anderson might be able to work with.

Phil Humber:
Along with Mulvey, Phil Humber will also be competing for a rotation spot come spring. Humber may have the upper hand because Mulvey has not yet pitched at AAA and the Twins have not been known to rush players through the system.

Humber has four pitches, a fastball, changeup, curveball and a splitter. His fastball reaches speeds of 93 MPH and has a lot of sink to it. His curveball, like Mulvey, has 11-to-5 break and according to scouts is a major league out-pitch. He also has his change and splitter. His changeup is his fourth pitch, and his splitter number three.

One major thing about Humber is that he has had Tommy John surgery. However, he made a fast recovery and scouts say he has been better after the surgery than before. His health is apparently no longer a question.

Deolis Guerra:
Deolis Guerra is only 19-years old, and is one of the biggest pieces to this deal. He is by no means a throw in, but he is a low level player with a very high ceiling.

Guerra has two above-average pitches that according to scouts coule become very good. The pitches are his fastball and changeup. His fastball reaches speeds of 89-94 MPH and sometimes reaches 96. His changeup is his best pitch mainly because of the motion he throws it with. The changeup is already considered a major league out-pitch.

Guerra's major weaknesses are his third pitch and his age. His third pitch is a curveball, and although it has good rotation, he at times has trouble controlling it. At age 19, he is still working on holding runners and fielding the pitcher position.

There you have it, reports and notes on the four players that will most likely be heading to Fort Myers come February 17.

I'll have more on these players as time goes on along with news on the contract situation.