The New York Yankees and their fans are shocked today. Shocked because they seemed like the front runners to acquire Johan Santana only a few months ago. Shocked because of the three teams courting the best pitcher in baseball, it seemed like they were offering the best player – Phil Hughes. And of course, shocked that he ended up with the Mets, who didn’t even have to give up their best prospect to bring in the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
But the truly shocking thing here isn’t who ultimately got Santana or what they gave up, it’s that the Yankees let the deal fall apart because they didn’t want to deal prospects. In your best Allen Iverson impersonation, say it with me now, “we talkin’ ‘bout prospects. Not All Stars. Prospects.”
Truth be told, the Yankees should have been willing to give up any two of the “Big Three” right from the start. Santana would be hands down the greatest left-handed pitcher ever to wear pinstripes, but the team would rather rely on its farm system to carry them into battle against the World Champion Red Sox. For a team so deadest on making the playoffs every year, the Yankees are going to be awfully dependent on two guys with a combined six Major League victories (3 of which came against Tampa Bay and Baltimore) and a dominant set-up man who they’ll eventually make a starter. No pressure, fellas.
Meanwhile, the Mets, fresh off last September’s epic collapse, needed to make a splash because that's what teams with money are supposed to do. They are one of baseball’s most profitable teams and General Manager Omar Minaya knows that with a new stadium on the horizon, those numbers are only going to increase. So he dealt his homegrown talent for the best player out there and just like that, without sacrificing much at all, made the Mets the favorite to win the Pennant.
There is a potential nightmare looming for the Yankees here. In 2009, both New York teams will open up new stadiums, but what if the Mets are coming off a World Series appearance? And what if they played the Red Sox?
Pick your poison.
But at least they’ll have a home-grown kid to throw the first pitch.