Okay, just some general commentary on things I've been reading around the league. Phil Rogers is a decent writer but he doesn't typically seem to know what he's talking about. Three years ago he predicted the Rockies to win the NL West, for instance, and we all know what kind of team we had then. Therefore, I usually don't read much of what he writes, but in my regular perusal of rumors this morning, this statement caught my eye:
This seems like an indictment of both the financial competitiveness and the thin farm systems of NL teams, especially given the impact Santana could have in a league with lesser hitters.
Okay, I can agree with him on the first half of that statement, but the second half, which I emphasized in bold print, struck me as inaccurate. I don't actually know if it is true or not, so I'll start by listing teams that seem like they might be able to put together Santana worthy prospect packages, with a few of the names that they could include. I'm not saying that it would be wise of these clubs to make these moves, I'm just trying to gauge if they have the kind of young cost controlled impact talent that the Twins would be looking for.
Boston - Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Matheson, Bowden. The Red Sox system is pitching heavy right now, but those arms are very high quality.
Cleveland: Grady Sizemore, Fausto Carmona, Asdrubal Cabrera, various second tier guys. Cleveland's got depth, but probably not enough top-line talent on their farm so they'd have to be willing to give up Carmona and/or Sizemore. Obviously this would be stupid, but they could get it done.
Los Angeheim Brandon Wood, Nick Adenhart, Joe Saunders, Kendry Morales. This doesn't go all the way into the depth of the Angels system, these are just a few of the top MLB ready guys they have. The main hold-up seems to be that the Angels already have enough pitching to win the AL West, and therefore aren't as desperate as the Red Sox or Yankees to up their offer.
New York Phillip Hughes, Joba Chamberlin, Ian Kennedy, Alan Horne, Jose Tabata. Chamberlin has been declared off limits, and the Yanks would also have to include Melky Cabrera or Robinson Cano, but one of the oddest twists to me of the Santana derby this winter is that Kennedy was apparently the deal breaker with the Yankees.
Oakland Harden, Barton, all the AZ guys they got. This wasn't true two weeks ago, but after the Danny Haren trade re-stocked their farm system, they now could possibly make a run at Johan. That would be very silly on their part.
Tampa Bay Evan Longoria, Jacob McGee, etc.., Rather than trying to trade for Santana and risk losing him, the Rays seem to be biding their time, knowing that the two biggies in their division will be running out of steam soon. Ortiz, Ramirez, Lowell, Jeter, A-Rod, Posada are all on the downslope of their careers. 2009 and 2010 will be a lot more interesting in the AL East than a lot of people seem to realize.
Seattle Jeff Clement, Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow, Yung Chi Chen. The Mariners would pretty much have to drain their system to accomplish this trade, and I still don't know if it would be enough on the pitching side of things to draw Minnesota's interest.
That's it as far as the AL from what I can tell. Detroit gave up its stash to Florida for Cabrera and Willis, the other teams clearly didn't have enough on their farms to begin with.
Arizona Upton, Young, Scherzer. It's probably kind of surprising, but if Arizona really wanted another ace pitcher even after the Haren trade, they could probably still pull it off if they were willing to center a trade proposal around one of their two stud outfielders.
Cincinnati Bruce, Bailey, Votto, Cueto, Volquez. The Reds are the opposite of their Ohio counterparts in the AL, in that they lack depth, but they've got some major impact talent at the top of their prospect list. Trading Hamilton to the Rangers last week didn't change that fact.
Chicago: Rich Hill, Carlos Marmol, Geovanny Soto, Tyler Colvin. Similarly to the Diamondbacks and Brewers, if the Cubs were wanting to get involved it would take giving up important parts of their current MLB roster, but they definitely seem to have the talent there.
Colorado: Jimenez, Morales, Stewart, Nelson, Iannetta. Clearly -removing Santana's potential salary from the equation- we have what it takes to get involved in these discussions. Like other teams, we probably would pass anyway, as the cost to 2009 and beyond would just be too great.
Florida: Maybin, Miller, Volstad, Sinkbeil, Hermida, West, Before the trade with Detroit they were probably already close -given the arms on their farm- after the trade, the Marlins easily have enough young talent at this point that it would attract Minnesota's interest.
Los Angeles: Kemp, Loney, LaRoche, Kershaw, etc.., Similarly to the Marlins when they were trying to deal Cabrera earlier, the Twins seem to be whining that the Dodgers aren't opening their coffers for Santana. I'm sort of whining, too, but that means it's probably the right decision from LA's vantage point.
Milwaukee: Manny Parra, Rickie Weeks, Jeffress, Gillespie, Gamel. Milwaukee's system has been weakened by recent graduations to the MLB level, but if they were willing to trade Weeks and Parra, they could build a package that would be more attractive to me at least than what Boston's currently offering.
New York: Fernando Martinez, Deolis Guerra, Mike Pelfrey, Aaron Heilman, Carlos Gomez. If you read Metsblog, they really seem to believe that they've got the talent to pull this trade off without using the left side of their infield, but I don't know of many people that agree with that sentiment. Their pitching is particularly weak and lacks upside. The two position players they'd try to offer, Martinez and Gomez, while talented, lack refinement given the levels the Mets have promoted them to. As a related side note, since David Wright and Jose Reyes -which would mean after Minaya became the GM- it seems that the Mets' player development staff has taken a considerable turn for the worse in getting these guys to meet their potential. All of that said, if the Mets were willing to trade Reyes or Wright, the Twins would obviously listen.
So in summary, I don't know if it has much to do with weakness in NL farm systems at all, the two leagues seem about even in the number of teams that have stockpiles of young impact talent, as much as it has to do with the weakness in their bank accounts that's keeping them from the Santana sweepstakes.
I guess it's kind of interesting that five of the seven big market NL teams -the Mets, Atlanta, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Houston- really do have relatively weak farm systems right now. Los Angeles and Chicago are the exceptions, but both have solid reasons for staying out of the Santana sweepstakes. Chicago's got a for sale sign on the team, and Santana's next contract will be big enough to need the go ahead of future ownership. Add in that they are already the best team in a weak division, and it makes sense that they'd be fine staying the course. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is in a more competitive division, but the Dodgers pitching is already pretty solid and the young position players they'd have to give up to get Johan would likely create more holes than he'd fill.
Speaking of Dodgers pitching, TrueBlue LA made an interesting rotational comparison that shows that the Dodgers projected five man rotation in 2008 is just as potent as the Diamondbacks. The Rockies would come up pretty short in this, but as I mentioned on Saturday, all the projections I've seen for next season seem to be underestimating Ubaldo Jimenez considerably, and Franklin Morales at least by a little bit. Similarly to last year, I think our pitching is going to sneak up on people.
I'm wanting to start another PuRPS poll this week, since we've got nothing better to do. I'll be back later with a preliminary list and a starter discussion thread.