Johan Santana Sweepstakes: Why the Yankees Are Smart to Say No
That new gives comfort to Yankee fans who strongly believe in the "Big Three" (Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy) as the future of the Yankees' starting rotation.
I'm one of those who would love to see the trio anchor a rotation like that of the 1971 Orioles, for whom all four starters won 20 games, and three out of four had sub-3.00 ERAs.
In fact, I have so much confidence in the "Big Three" that I'd pass up the chance to obtain the best pitcher in baseball.
"What it comes down to right now is giving up a lot [in a trade] and then having to do the big contract, as well," Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News. "If [Santana] was just a free agent, we could just go ahead and do it."
But would adding Santana to the mix really help the Yankees?
I think not.
It's already been proven by the 2004 and 2005 Yankees teams that there's such a thing as too much talent. Superstar players have big egos that can affect team chemistry—i.e. Alex Rodriguez. For pitchers, moreover, it's hard for to deal with the pressure endemic to Yankee Stadium.
Take for instance Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson. Sure, they were both old when they came to the Bronx, but the increase in their ERAs was significantly greater than it had been in previous seasons. And when they left the Yankees, their ERAs went back down—Clemens from 3.91 to 2.98 and Johnson from 5.00 to 3.81.
Before the season starts, I don't expect to see Santana with the Yankees. But the trade deadline is another story.
If the other teams in the Santana race—the Red Sox, Angels and Mets—don't make a move before the season starts, the Yankees could be back in it come midsummer. Waiting until the deadline might also be in the best interest of the Twins, as Santana would help the club in the first and half of the season, and teams would be willing to ante up more out of desperation to make the playoffs.
But unless the Yankees go back on their word—which they have been known to do—don't expect to see Santana pitch against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
The rotation I expect to see on Opening Day 2008 is Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain. Look for Kennedy to start the year in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
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