The Winter Meetings will come to an end today, and so will many (but not all) crazy trade rumors. While many are unhappy with the trade the Braves made with the Cubs, I am quite pleased. Think about it this way: the Braves needed a lefty reliever and a utility infielder. They got both (Will Ohman and Omar Infante) for an unproven power reliever with chronic back problems (Jose Ascanio). The only need the Braves have yet to fill is for a “stopgap” centerfielder–someone to man CF while top prospect Jordan Schaeffer continues to develop in the minors. That need is not even a crucial need, as the Braves could plug in Schaeffer (albeit maybe a little too early) or use Gregor Blanco or Josh Anderson (recently acquired in a trade with the Astros). As it stands today, here is the most probable lineup for the Braves:
Not too shabby…with Andruw out of the lineup, that removes roughly 374 strikeouts and a .003 BA with RISP, which is nice. With a rotation that could shape up as Smoltz, Hudson, Glavine, James, Hampton/Bennett/Jurrjens, you’ve got to feel pretty good about the pitching as well. So, all in all, I’m quite pleased. There is still a chance that Chuck James (the next Glavine or the next Charlie Puleo, depending on who you ask) could be traded for an established CF. Depending on who we’d get back in return, I would probably be unhappy with that–I think James was thrust into a position of high responsibility (3rd in the rotation) wayyyyyyy too early, and asked to win important games. Stick him in that 4th or 5th slot, and let him develop. Then we’ll see.
It would seem to me that the Tigers’ blockbuster trade for Cabrera and Willis changes the landscape for any possible deal for Santana. If I’m the Twins, and a team in my division just got that much stronger, I’d have to throw in the towel at this point. Cleveland already has a very potent team (that has already relegated Minnesota to at least Wild Card status), and now with Detroit becoming world beaters, there’s absolutely no hope for Minnesota.
So, if I were the Twins, I’d realize that we’re not going to be able to compete this year, so why would we hold onto Santana anyway? Let’s trade him and build for the future. I also don’t agree that, as I heard Steve Phillips say on ESPN last night, Santana is roughly equal to Cabrera/Willis, and therefore shouldn’t be worth in the neighborhood of 6 prospects. Cabrera’s a stud–we all know that, and Willis is a classic “change of scenery” guy. It had to be extremely difficult to pitch in Florida with a horrible defense behind you and 350 fans in the ballpark…oh, and no chance of winning with that lineup. Put him in Detroit with an already above-average rotation and a MONSTER lineup, and see what he does.
Back to the Twins–let me make one thing clear: I don’t think the Twins are Devil Ray-esque (it’ll always be “Devil Rays” to me!). It’s not like they don’t have any talent. They have a former MVP and batting champ in their lineup, and a great closer (who is on the trading block, however). But that division is stacked with Cleveland and Detroit at the top, and that relegates Minny to “outside looking in” status. So trade Santana, and trade him now.