The Twins' tough call
Best offers for Santana are likely already on the table
Posted: Wednesday January 16, 2008 2:20PM; Updated: Wednesday January 16, 2008 8:02PM
There is a diminishing belief that the Twins will get exactly what they want for lefthander Johan Santana, baseball's best pitcher. Of course they could also surprise folks and decide to keep Santana, who turns 29 on March 13. But if they do that they're taking two major risks: 1) That Santana hurts his value, or himself, once he starts pitching again; or 2) That he retracts his approval of a trade (he has full veto power), a real risk in that he may as well just wait for free agency the closer he gets to it.
The Red Sox's two proposed packages, one leading with 24-year-old lefty Jon Lester and the other with 24-year-old centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, have not changed for several weeks. So it's doubtful that Boston will sweeten its offers.
The Yankees remain in the mix, though some of their execs are apparently more interested than others. Senior VP Hank Steinbrenner has generally been a "yes'' vote, while GM Brian Cashman and general partner Hal Steinbrenner appear to be leaning toward a "no,'' although there is a sense among those in the know that even Hank may be "retreating,'' which means the Twins' chances of landing both young righthanders Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy as part of a package are surely nil.
Meanwhile, a source familiar with the Mets' thinking says he "seriously doubts'' that team decision makers will include both their top outfield prospects -- 22-year-old Carlos Gomez and 19-year-old Fernando Martinez -- along with pitching prospects Deolis Guerra, 18; Phil Humber, 25; and Kevin Mulvey, 22. New York would give Minnesota one outfielder or the other, but not both.
If the Twins are convinced that none of the three Santana contenders will accede to their demands, they will have a tough call on their hands. Some execs from other teams say that any Yankee offer that includes Hughes is the best one, while others favor the Red Sox's package with Lester. But one National league exec said that the Twins would be better off taking the Mets' offer, assuming Minnesota can accept the idea of a longer-term rebuilding project after losing centerfielder Torii Hunter to free agency. That exec said that Guerra is a potential gem, a kid with tremendous upside.
The Mets, though, are said to want to limit their offer of an extension to Santana to five years, and an executive with another team wondered why Santana would approve a trade to a team that won't offer the six years he's thought to be seeking. Word is that Santana wants close to $150 million over six years, with perhaps $5 million coming in a signing bonus, to bring his 2008 salary in line with baseball's highest-paid pitchers -- Carlos Zambrano and Barry Zito. Santana's trade value is limited because he is so close to free agency and will command an extension at essentially market value.
Around the Majors
The Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus trade makes sense -- for the Blue Jays, anyway. They get the better defensive player and a player not involved in the steroid mess. (According to SI, in 2003 and '04 Glaus received multiple shipments of steroids through an allegedly illegal Internet distribution network.) Execs were accused of looking the other way during the Steroid Era; now some of them are disregarding what we already know. You'd think if any team would be sensitive to the issue it might be the Cardinals. Apparently not.
The Braves helped themselves with the pickup of Oakland's Mark Kotsay, who isn't Andruw Jones but is nonetheless an excellent defensive center fielder.
Righthanders Kyle Lohse and Livan Hernandez remain unsigned. Either could be a candidate for the Mets if they fail to land Santana.
Hollywood Meets Major League Baseball
A great and worthy annual event, the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation annual dinner, is to be held on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, and will feature Bud Selig and Tommy Lasorda as presenters; Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Buddy Bell's family, former Braves chairman Bill Bartholomay, longtime baseball man Preston Gomez, scouts Ralph Avila and Eddie Bockman and many others as honorees; plus TV stars Tim Allen and Mary Hart as emcees and Larry King as a host -- not to mention the greatest collection of sports and entertainment memorabilia ever sold at silent auction.
The event is spectacular, as I can attest after attending last year. I brought a friend of mine, who snapped up mementoes left and right. Many of those on display were eye-catching. Jane Seymour memorably paid $3,000 for Michael Jordan's White Sox jersey.
What's best is that the proceeds go to a worthy cause: down-and-out scouts. Over five years more than 30 scouts have been supported by this event, which was begun by former baseball agent, current White Sox executive and all-around baseball lover Dennis Gilbert, who, according to one event organizer, personally donated $100,000 to the cause this year. Tickets go for $300, $500 and $1,000 for the dinner, with cocktails slated for 6 p.m. and dinner for 6:30. A limited number of tickets are available and can be purchased by calling 310-996-1188.
Signing off for Stu, great sport, great man
My heartfelt condolences go to Sandy Nahan and the rest of the family of Stu Nahan, a wonderful man, beloved sports announcer and treasure in the Los Angeles area who died of lymphoma at 81 last month. Nahan was an alltime great as an L.A.-area sports anchor for more than three decades (1968-99) with KTLA-TV, KNBC-TV and KABC-TV, but was nationally known for roles in movies; he played himself in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, an announcer in the Rocky movies and a presenter in Brian's Song. I got to know Nahan in the last year of his life, and he was as kind and fun off the air as he seemed on it.