See, everybody’s happy.
The Twins, Red Sox, Mets. All good.
The Yankees, meanwhile, still have Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes.
They’re probably not as psyched.
Hughes and Kennedy were the centerpieces that the Twins reportedly demanded from the Yankees in exchange for All-Star pitcher Johan Santana last winter, a deal the Yankees balked on with the bright futures of the staff ready to come into focus. Both figured to star in 2008, as the Yankees became the Red Sox of 2007, a veteran team sparked by young talent.
Kennedy is back in the minors after going 0-2 with an 8.37 ERA. Hughes sneezed and broke a rib. He was 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA prior.
And the news keeps getting brighter in the Bronx. Kei Igawa and his kickin’ shades get the call tonight in Detroit. Future’s so bright indeed.
For the Twins though, it's so far, so good, with what they got in return for Santana. Carlos Gomez has burst on the scene in Minnesota at the age of 22, and the center fielder is starting to show Twins fans why Red Sox fans became so enamored with the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury last season.
Red Sox fans are quite obviously ecstatic that Ellsbury isn't playing in the Twin Cities full-time these days. The Twins chose to go with the Mets' package of prospects for the All-Star lefty, and though he has to share time in the outfield with Coco Crisp, it's a virtual certainty that by late summer he'll supplant Crisp as the everyday guy.
La Velle E. Neal III writes in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Red Sox fans are in love with Ellsbury, who's batting .290 with a .397 on-base percentage. Twins fans seem to feel the same way about Carlos Gomez, who is the top prospect of the four the Twins received from the Mets for Santana. Both are fast -- each has 13 stolen bases -- but Gomez is faster. Both have good offensive potential, but Ellsbury is more polished and disciplined. Both have been electrifying at times, with Ellsbury batting .438 in last fall's World Series against Colorado and taking off from there, and Gomez hitting for the cycle on Wednesday.
Things could have been very different heading into this weekend. In a parallel world, Santana could have been standing on the mound in Minnesota tonight – for Boston – possibly going up against Jon Lester, who was part of combination plate A that Theo Epstein offered to Minnesota last winter for Santana, along with Crisp and Jed Lowrie. Ellsbury could have haunted the Red Sox by chasing down balls hit into the expanses of the Metrodome. Lowrie could have made Red Sox fans wonder why they have to endure another three years of Julio Lugo when he was climbing the farm ladder.
OK, so Lowrie DOES make Sox fans wonder why they have to endure another three years of Lugo.
The Red Sox are in first place to start 2008 partly by virtue of the deal they didn't make. Ellsbury's star continues to shine in Boston, Lester has started to put it together lately, including his best start to date (an eight-inning, one-hit no-decision against the Blue Jays), and Lowrie was a much-needed presence in the lineup when Mike Lowell went down with a thumb injury. The Twins, too, find themselves atop the AL Central, but there will indeed be focus on certain Sox players this weekend. Only Gomez has made an impact thus far in Minnesota, where they wait and see what becomes of Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra down the line.
Meanwhile, Lester, Ellsbury, Lowrie, or maybe even Clay Buchholz could have all been there now.
Gomez struggled out of the gate. The 22-year-old hit just .230 before being benched for a game. Since then, he's tore up the field at a .400 clips, and even hit for the cycle earlier this week. But then, there's Ellsbury, an emerging talent that opens more eyes every time he steps to the plate, the very reason why most Sox fans were so anxious about surrendering him for only the best lefty in the game.
At the time the deal was made, many baseball talking heads scolded the Twins for accepting what was deemed a lesser package than what the Red Sox or the (ahem) Yankees had offered. Maybe. In terms of immediate, let's-win-it-this-season talent, the Twins might have found themselves better off with either Package A or B from the Red Sox. They could also have the worst record in baseball if they went with Hughes, Kennedy, and Melky Cabrera.
"We liked the trade when we made it, but it's not a trade that can be pronounced good or bad after one month, or one year," Twins GM Bill Smith told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "This is a deal we made for our future."
Few do dealing for the future better than the Twins, despite what the inane ramblings of Ask Men's Dave Golokhov will have you believe, landing them at No. 7 in his list of the Top 10 worst franchises in sports (Hey, the Bruins at No. 6).
"The Twins constantly sell proven veterans for prospects and draft picks, but when those youngsters finally develop, they get shipped away to start the cycle again. The Twins incessantly look to the future and winning now is not a priority. Translation: the Twins care more about the dollars than about winning."
We'll let Fire Joe Morgan handle it from here:
Twins win totals, 2002-2006: 94, 90, 92, 83, 96. Four division titles in five years. You're telling me that a team that won four division titles in a five year stretch ending in 2006 is the seventh worst franchise in all of sports?...
So...you're bashing them for being "cheap" and following a "Moneyball" philosophy, because in 2002, with the 4th lowest payroll in the sport, they got all the way to the *&^%$# ALCS. They were one of the 4 best teams in the league that year. And another one of the best teams was the Oakland A's, about whom the book "Moneyball" was written.
You know who didn't make it as far as the $41m Twins that year? The $132m Yankees, or the $108m Red Sox, or the $105m Rangers, or the $103m DBacks, or the $101m Dodgers. And this means the Twins are a bad franchise?
Congratulations! That is bone-dumb.
Agreed. But you can't make everyone happy. Can't wait to watch that cool cat Igawa.