Over the weekend there was a good deal of scuttlebutt regarding what it would take for the Yankees to trade for Johan Santana, namely top pitching prospect Phil Hughes, mediocre center fielder Melky Cabrera and outfield prospect Austin Jackson.
Despite Santana being one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, I truly hope the Yankees aren't seriously entertaining the idea of trading one of the most exciting young pitchers their system has ever produced for a player they can have for NOTHING BUT COLD HARD CASH IN ONE YEAR.
The fact that deals are even hypothetically being thrown around makes me nervous. After witnessing the success of the trio of young pitching studs the Yanks introduced to us this year, the aforementioned Hughes, the sensational Joba Chamberlain (who has rightly been declared untouchable by the organization) and Ian Kennedy, coupled with years of ineffective free agent pitching signings and trades (see Neagle, Denny; Weaver, Jeff; Contreras, Jose; Brown, Kevin; ad infinitum) it looked like Brian Cashman and company were finally on the right track of developing pitching from within.
I'll never forget Tuesday, May 1, 2007. I was watching the Yankees play Texas with my brother, and it was Hughes' second Major League start. I had of course read all the hype surrounding Hughes for the past three years, and couldn't wait to see what he was going to do after a rocky first outing against Toronto.
As any Yankee fan can attest to, Phil didn't disappoint, and as batter after batter went down, my brother and I kept laughing in giddy amazement about what we were seeing. I've been watching the Yankees regularly since 1993, and even attended Dwight Gooden's 1996 no-hitter, and not only can I simply not recall being more excited during a regular season game than I was for Phil's near no-no, but I don't think I've ever been more excited for the opposing team's lineup to come to bat than my own.
Of course, Phil's brush with baseball history didn't quite turn out the way we had hoped, but everyone who saw the game that night knew that without a doubt, Phil Hughes would have pitched a no-hitter had he not pulled up lame with one out in the 7th.
After returning from the hamstring injury in August, Hughes' results were a bit mixed, although his peripherals were still sound. He seemed to really settle in come September, pitching the Yankees to a huge must-win victory against the Mariners early in the month, paving the way for the team to snag the Wild Card lead and never look back.
And what happened in October? I was fortunate enough to attend Game 3 of the ALDS against Cleveland, and simply witnessed the Yankees' only victory of the series authored by none other than Phil Hughes, in relief of an 80-year-old Roger Clemens.
Those in favor of a trade for Santana will cite Santana's track record as well as Hughes still being a relatively unknown commodity -- despite positive early returns, we don't know what Hughes will ultimately become.
However, after YEARS OF SHITTY STARTING PITCHING, I'm more than willing to take my chances with Phil Hughes in the rotation, who could very well deliver multiple Cy Youngs in the future. In 2004 we thought we were getting an ace when we traded Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera for Javy Vasquez. On paper it looked like a great deal, but the Yanks sure ended up getting bitten in the ass on that one, huh? Nick the Stick and his .400-plus OBP would look pretty damn nice at first base in 2008. And the following year, we traded for Randy Johnson, only to kick him to the curb two seasons later after subpar results, which were lowlighted by the punting of his two pivotal Game 3 playoff starts.
Now if the Yankees actually acquired Santana, chances are he'd be better than Vasquez and Johnson. But I think he has just as good a shot at coming over and falling far short of expectations as he does of dominating. Simply put, the Yankees do not have a positive track record of success in dealing for starting pitching.
Additionally, what Yankee fan in their right mind would prefer rooting for Santana over a top-flight Yankee farmhand? And getting back to my initial point, WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU TRADE FOR SANTANA WHEN YOU CAN SIGN HIM WITHOUT HAVING TO GIVE UP THE FARM IN 2009?
I can't stress this enough. What Yankee fan is so rabid for a championship in 2008 that they would actively mortgage a future of potential multiple championships for a shot at winning it next year?
Honestly, if the Yankees were to trade Phil Hughes, I might seriously have to consider switching my lifelong allegiance. I practically came out of the womb with a Yankee hat on, and I eagerly look forward to passing my Yankee fandom on to my son one day. But it would be very difficult for me to pull for the team if they traded away their most exciting homegrown player in more than a decade -- one that I have a serious rooting interest in and who has become my favorite player on the team.
I don't know who I'd root for. The National League is almost as boring as hockey, so the Mets aren't an option. I suppose I would have to vigorously campaign to bring back a third New York baseball team, which is actually a pretty cool idea regardless of everything I've written prior to this.
In conclusion, the Yankees absolutely cannot trade Phil Hughes to the Twins for Johan Santana. There is no conceivable way this deal makes sense to anyone with a brain, especially when (say it with me now) SANTANA WILL BE A FREE AGENT IN ONE YEAR. And if he gets traded somewhere else, who fucking cares? Let the Red Sox or the Mets unload all of their top prospects to get Santana. I'll be more than happy as Joba, Hughes, Kennedy and Horne pitch us to many, many championships over the next decade-plus.