The deal on the deal (cont.)
Posted: Thursday January 31, 2008 1:47PM; Updated: Thursday January 31, 2008 4:53PM
If you can really fault the Twins, perhaps it was for failing to pounce on the Yankees' offer of top young pitcher Phil Hughes, center fielder Melky Cabrera, pitching prospect Jeffrey Marquez and a fourth undetermined prospect when it was briefly on the table for the first couple days of the winter meetings back in early December. Instead, the Twins pressed for the Yankees to also include another top young pitcher, Ian Kennedy, going for the grand slam. If you want to hit the Twins, hit them for that.
The Yankees' proposal, however fleeting, may have been the best one. Even the AL scout who defended the Twins thought so, saying, "I think the Yankees' deal would have been better because those two guys (Hughes and Cabrera) already showed what they can do in the big leagues.''
Even if that's true -- and Cabrera is no world-beater yet (even those who don't love Gomez say he's "a tick above'' Cabrera in terms of value) -- it's still hard to knock Smith for ignoring Hank Steinbrenner's quick deadline and pressing for more.
Who could have thought Hank the Yank would actually stick to the deadline this time? In Steinbrenner the Junior's tenure at the top, he has showed he is willing to change his mind (hence the re-signing of A-Rod), to seal certain deals by giving away the store (thus a fourth year for 36-year-old catcher Jorge Posada) and even to over-rule general manager Brian Cashman (both A-Rod and Posada). So it's understandable why Smith still hoped for more.
But as we know by now, Cashman made a strong stand, building a convincing case regarding Hughes' toughness and potential. Then Hank's younger brother Hal, who controls the purse strings, tightened hard before Hank could loosen them again.
When the Twins made a last pass at the Yankees on Tuesday, it was too late. So when Cashman told the Twins yet again that Hughes was off the table, the Twins went for the gusto, requesting that instead Cashman send them both Kennedy and Chien-Ming Wang to go with Cabrera and Marquez. Why not? By then, it was clear that there was only one place left to go, and that was the Mets.
No brainer for Mets
As for the Mets, it was unanimous. Everyone I spoke to endorsed their deal, which moves them from contenders to favorites in the National League. "If you are Omar, do you have to make that trade? Hell yeah," was the way one National League executive put it.
The Mets now have until late Friday afternoon to work out a contract with Santana's agents, Peter and Ed Greenberg. Everyone thinks that not only will they do a deal but that they absolutely have to do a deal.
Mets people have told folks in recent weeks that they won't go beyond five years for any pitcher (though presumably that means five on top of the one Santana already has coming in this case). If they stick to their guns, one guess could be that they add five years at $115 million, bringing Santana's total haul to about $128 million over six years (for now, he is to make $13.25 million for 2007). Others don't think they'll get off quite that easy, that six additional years at $125 million is more like it, which would bring the total to about $138 million over seven. Others think it may go even higher than that.
Considering the Mets' need (desperation, actually), it's hard to predict how high the contract could go. But it's easy to predict where Santana will go -- to New York.
Angelos still a Bird brain
No surprise that the Erik Bedard trade got held up the minute it got to the desk of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who appears to live to get in the way of the baseball executives he hires. However, most top execs around the league believe that even Angelos will eventually sign off on the deal to send Bedard to Seattle for top outfield prospect Adam Jones, top reliever George Sherrill and two prime prospects for the lefthanded Bedard.
However, by now we know now that it won't happen without drama.
One person familiar with what was going on in Baltimore said he believed Angelos was spooked by Jones' own announcement to the press that he was flying east for a medical exam, a revelation that that person believed Angelos saw as an attempt by Seattle to force his hand. Of course, that's just plain nuts.
But of course, no one can tell Angelos what to do -- not even his own execs. And that includes Andy MacPhail, the former wonder boy who's probably beginning to realize now that Angelos is better from afar.
Reports have surfaced that the Orioles were 1) worried about a health issue involving Jones, 2) trying to keep Bedard with a long-shot long-term deal, and 3) beginning to field offers from other teams.
I have heard that the Indians made a late bid to get into the Bedard sweepstakes. But if Angelos doesn't sign off on a deal for a future star such as Jones, a top reliever and two top prospects, he'll never sign off on anything. Believe it or not, I still think that eventually MacPhail will talk some sense into him and get him to OK the best deal they could possibly make.
Clemens as regular guy? Ha!
Funny to see Clemens' chronically condescending agents, the Hendricks brothers, issuing a thick book to tell us that Clemens' career path really wasn't that different from a lot of other folks. That in their attempt to prove Clemens really wasn't a steroid user that Clemens' career path really isn't that extraordinary. (I am laughing as I type that sentence.)
The Hendricks' hope to sell the idea that Clemens wasn't a marvel after all, that it's not so remarkable that he won four Cy Young awards in the "twilight" of his career. And that he's really just another run-of-the-mill Hall-of-Fame guy. Hmmm ... I wonder if the Hendricks' had a slightly different message when they got the Yankees to spend $28 million prorated on the soon-to-be 45-year-old Clemens last spring?
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