This has been a crazy week for Twins fans. The Johan Santana rumors were flying non-stop for about 72 straight hours, and at several points it seemed that a deal was imminent. Yet, here we are; the Winter Meetings have come and gone, and Santana is still a Twin for the time being. I'm of the opinion that Bill Smith's patience in this situation is a good thing. The deals that have reportedly been proposed have been extremely underwhelming, and I have to imagine that some team is going to come to its senses and cough up some real value in order to bring in the best pitcher on the planet. That said, the Twins need to make a decision on Santana in the near future, because the rest of the their moves this offseason will be dictated by what happens with him.
Anyway, here are some notes to wrap up this hectic week:
* Our pal Aaron Gleeman, who kept a running string of Santana updates on his blog on Wednesday and Thursday, noted on Wednesday evening that La Velle E. Neal III had said "it appears unlikely a deal will be reached this week." This prompted Gleeman to state that "the past 72 hours appear to have been a whole lot of nothing. Well covered, widely read nothing, but still nothing."
Not sure I'd agree with that last part. The Santana Saga has been widely read, to be sure, but "well covered"? I'm not real satisfied by the way this whole situation has been covered by the national media. Does reporting every small, unsubstantiated rumor and watching it get picked up by several outlets and subsequently blown out of proportion really constitute good coverage? I wouldn't say so.
I am actually quite satisfied with the way Neal covered the Winter Meetings. As a Twins' beat writer, you might expect him to be the most active reporter in pumping out Santana rumors, but he kept fairly quiet and reserved. I saw many people accuse him of being overly slow or sparse in his coverage, but I'm glad he chose not to contribute to the hysteria by running every unsubstantiated rumor on his blog.
From this point forward, I've chosen to take basically everything I hear regarding Santana with a grain of salt, unless I'm hearing it from a source I truly trust (like Neal). That way, I don't have to get worked up about fabricated rumors of a horrendous three-way deal that would result in the Twins getting Dan Haren and essentially nothing else for Santana. Yuck.
* In yesterday's column I previewed the Rule 5 draft, writing blurbs about the two players I was most worried about seeing the Twins lose: Yohan Pino and Garrett Guzman. Thankfully, Pino is safe, but unfortunately Guzman was grabbed up by the Washington Nationals. If he sticks with the Nats, it's not a crippling loss, because Guzman really doesn't project as anything more than a fourth outfielder at best, but the Twins are not an organization that can afford to be letting quality hitting prospects go for free. Aside from Guzman, the Twins also lost outfielder Rashad Eldridge, and pitchers R.A. Dickey (whom they had just recently signed), Tim Lahey, J.P. Martinez, and Joshua Hill. Guzman, Lahey and Dickey were selected in the major-league portion of the draft, meaning they will need to spend the entire season on the drafting team's 25-man roster or be sent back to the Twins.
* The Dodgers agreed to terms with center fielder Andruw Jones yesterday on a contract worth about $36 million over two years. With the addition of Jones, the Dodgers seemingly have an overloaded outfield, which would perhaps make it more palatable for GM Ned Colletti to part with Matt Kemp, who has always been my favorite player associated with the Santana rumors. Of course, the Dodgers have reportedly been very quiet in the Santana sweepstakes, and there are major questions about whether they would be willing to pony up the cash to sign the star left-hander long-term. Still, my dreams of a Santana-for-Kemp and Clayton Kershaw swap will continue to dance faintly.
* New York Mets GM Omar Minaya told the Associated Press that he thinks he has the players to bring in Santana, even without trading star shortstop Jose Reyes. Most people are skeptical about the Mets' ability to put together a worthy package without Reyes, but I'm pretty high on outfield prospects Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez (especially Gomez). The big downside with the Mets is that they lack high-end pitching prospects that might help offset the loss of the Twins' ace.