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Might Have Beens

The Yankees could have had Johan Santana, couldn't they?

I live in North Carolina and even this far from the WFAN echo chamber, when I meet a Yankees fan, eventually the topic comes up.

According to Cot's, Santana is earning just under $23M until 2013; A.J. Burnett is earning $16.5M until 2013.  So the difference between having A.J. Burnett on the staff and having Johan Santana is about $6M.  

That's the price of the 2009 Andy Pettitte, and the price there has been too high.

Or it's the price of Nick Swisher, who was a redundant player when he was acquired, even if he did help provide the cover that the Yanks weren't in on Mark Teixeira.

Or it's a little less than the price of Damaso Marte.  Do you remember who he is?  That he's on the 40-man?  That Brian Cashman once called Marte "one of the better left-handed relievers in the game." Stupid Brian Cashman.

Which is what the whole argument boils down to in the end: Stupid Brian Cashman.

I was reading the argument again, this time over at WasWatching, a blog I usually enjoy, and I marvel a little. The idea that

Brian Cashman took a team that was a three-peat World Champion and turned them into a team that would finish first and then lose in the LDS…and then into a team that would no longer finish first but would win a Wildcard (and lose in the LDS)…and then into a team that would not make the post-season at all

Yes, in hindsight, I might have traded Melky Cabrera, IPK, Phil Hughes and whatever additional pieces the Twins eventually demanded for Santana, and then signed him to the richest deal in Major League history.  But that abandons the moment; it ignores the hole that would open in centerfield for the last few seasons.  And it send Phil Hughes, still only 23, to Minnesota to learn to pitch there while Santana's decline continues.

His hits per nine have gone up in each of the last 3 seasons, as have BB/9, while his K/9 have gone down.  So far, this year he has rebounded, but I'm waiting for the full season numbers to account for park factor before I declare the crisis over for $23M 30-year old.

And I still think Hughes will be a more valuable pitcher before Santana's deal is up.