…. Decision 2008

With nothing going on in Giants-land, I thought I’d talk a bit about the Santana trade. Great news for the Mets, who needed something to forget last season’s epic collapse; and landing Santana, one of the few, true difference makers in the game, is just what the doctor ordered. In fact, you could argue that he is the best pitcher that’s become available in many years, maybe even ever. 29-year old, two-time Cy Young Award winners that are availabe to the highest bidder are that rare, and now he’s a Met.

On the other hand, he’s not a Yankee, and while that news may make Yankee haters happy, it bears repeating that this was a mistake by Brian Cashman. Yes, the Yankees have made a series of very expensive pitching decisions over the last 10 years, Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Clemens last season, Randy Johnson, even Mike Mussina; all overpaid, all disappointing in one way or another. Not one of those pitchers has managed to get the Yankees through a first round playoff series since 2004, and for the most part, it is their pitching failures that are the reason the Yankees have not won a title since 2000.

But, just because overpaying for one guy is wrong doesn’t mean overpaying for another is as well. Santana is none of those pitchers, in fact, he is unique. He is an absolute ace, at the top of his game. For a team that thinks it is playing for a title every year, he was a must-have player, and Cashman’s insistence that the Yankees let their young pitching develop means that this season, and the next several; are all on him now. If Hughes doesn’t develop into a stud, if Joba Chamberlain turns out to be a one-hit wonder, or, more importantly, if Santana pulls a Josh Beckett for the Mets this season, and brings a title home to Flushing; then Cashman gets it all. He gets the blame, he gets the goat horns, and he probably gets fired.

And he’d deserve it. Sure, developing your players from within is the smart move; just about every time. This is the one time it isn’t. Cashman dug his heels in one this one. Now, he’s hoping he didn’t dig his grave, too.

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