Tag:Johan Santana
Posted on: November 7, 2011 5:00 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Twins shock baseball world in firing GM Smith

Be careful what you wish for: With big-market finances come big-market expectations, and the Twins plummeting to a 99-loss season in 2010 despite a club-record $113 million payroll caused a big-time reaction Monday.

They fired general manager Bill Smith and went back to the future, naming Terry Ryan as interim GM.

Forget the Theo Epstein circus, the Tony La Russa resignation and the Orioles hiring Dan Duquette. This is the most shocking news of the off-season, simply because the Twins do not DO things like this.

Stability is their game. Since 1984, the Twins have employed only three men as GM: Andy MacPhail, Ryan and Smith.

For now, that will remain unchanged.

"I don't know if it will be for one year or for 10 years," Ryan said when asked to gauge the length of his interim tag. "We'll see how it goes. Direction, success, workload, all those things. ...

"This is going to be a challenge. I'm up to the challenge. I appreciate the opportunity."

The Twins refused to list reasons for dumping Smith. Owner Jim Pohlad had said at season's end that Smith would return, but he also said he wanted to see a plan for how the team could bounce back

Pohlad's utterings of "philosophical differences" and how this was about "scope and approach" pretty much said it all: Whatever plan Smith presented fell short in the Twins' eyes.

Hard to say if it involved spending even more money, but Ryan said that the 2012 payroll "is going to be south of where it was." He estimated that it would be somewhere around $100 million.

"Wherever it is, it's going to be a heck of a lot more than whatever I worked with," Ryan said in one of the few lighthearted moments of the news conference.

He sure has that right. Neither MacPhail nor Ryan never had a payroll higher than that of the Los Angeles Dodgers -- as the 2011 Twins did -- and they never had a brand new outdoor ballpark filled with exuberant fans night after night.

Smith did. And he signed Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million deal, and he had Justin Morneau on a six-year, $80 million deal, and neither of them could stay in the lineup last summer. Morneau, with his concussion issues, may never come close to being the same player he once was.

The Twins have issues, serious issues, and the fact that they've decided Smith no longer is the man to solve them ranks incredibly high on the seismic scale.

"We struggled on the mound, we didn't pick the ball up and we didn't score enough runs," said Ryan, who remains revered throughout the organization, from top to bottom. "We need to firm up a lot of areas."

Pure baseball always was going to be Smith's biggest challenge once the Twins promoted him to replace Ryan in September, 2007. A rules and contracts specialist who cut his baseball teeth from the ground up in Appleton, Wisc., in the White Sox organization, Smith was going to need a solid baseball man to team with, and the Twins made sure he had that when they promoted Mike Radcliff to vice-president of player personnel when Smith became GM.

Two of Smith's biggest trades backfired badly, and each factored into the 99-loss season as much as anything:

-- He sent two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana to the Mets in 2008 for a package of four players, none of whom has made an impact with the Twins. Outfielder Carlos Gomez came the closest, but he was spun off to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy, who now is with Baltimore. The other three players were pitcher Phil Humber and minor league pitchers Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra.

-- He sent big-time catching prospect Wilson Ramos to Washington two summers ago for closer Matt Capps in a go-for-it-now move with the Twins en route to 94 wins and the AL Central title in their first season in Target Field in 2010. But now, with Mauer looking like an old 28 and playing in only 82 games in 2011, the Ramos trade looks like a disaster.

The signing of Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka last winter for three years at $9.25 million also has the makings of a bust.

"If you're going to point to those, you should point at Orlando Cabrera [whom Smith acquired in 2009], Brian Fuentes [2010] and some others who worked out," Twins president Dave St. Peter said of two Smith acquisitions who helped the Twins make the playoffs in subsequent seasons.

There are more serious personnel questions heading toward 2012 than the Twins have faced in several years -- especially given the depths to which they sunk. They've declined the option on closer Joe Nathan's contract. Outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel and Capps all are free agents. Jim Thome already has signed with the Phillies.

And regarding the pitching staff, only Baltimore (4.89) compiled a higher ERA than Minnesota's (4.58) in 2011.

Ryan, the Twins' GM from 1994-2007, acknowledged that he's fielded inquiries from other clubs during his time out of the chair. Cincinnati, who hired Wayne Krivsky from the Twins, was one. But he loves the Twins, living in Minnesota and was enjoying the freedom working as a special assistant to Smith gave him.

"The situation dictated we were going to make a move," he said Monday. "If he had won 94 games, I wouldn't be sitting here. I didn't want Bill Smith's job. He knows it."

That said, Ryan said that he is going to "take this job head on. It's a 365-days-a-year job. We've got some work to do here."

The Twins are going to need both his baseball acumen and his familiarity. Because this is unheard of. They just don't fire people

At least, they didn't.

"Our family values loyalty, commitment and talent," Pohlad said. "Bill Smith had all three. ...

"We do this with a heavy heart."

"This is a sensitive day," Ryan said.

No question. But the one thing the Twins have going for them through this stunning and uncharted territory is, they've got a pretty good track record of getting things right.

Posted on: November 30, 2010 1:13 am
 

Young talks with Mets, others; nothing imminent

Veteran right-hander Chris Young, a free agent after the Padres declined to pick up his 2011 option, is talking with the New York Mets.

But that doesn't mean he's close to signing with them.

Contrary to reports Monday, Young says he is not on the verge of signing with the Mets and continues to engage in talks with several other clubs as well.

"The Mets are one of the teams with whom I have had dialogue," Young wrote in an e-mail to CBSSports.com on Monday night. "Not close to a deal with anyone at the present time."

While Young declined to list the clubs with whom he is talking in order to avoid more speculation, he said he is talking with the Mets "along with seven or eight other teams, including San Diego."

Young, an All-Star in 2007 with the Padres, has had a run of tough luck in recent seasons regarding his health, but he finished strong in 2010. After missing most of the season following a setback to his surgically repaired right shoulder, Young went 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four September starts for San Diego as the Padres went down the stretch with San Francisco.

Though Young's velocity was down on his fastball in the beginning, it reached the upper 80s by his final start.

Like San Diego, the Mets play in a pitcher-friendly park -- Citi Field -- that suits a fly ball pitcher like Young. Also like San Diego, the Mets are looking to fill out their rotation. Currently, ace Johan Santana is slotted to miss the beginning of the season following shoulder surgery. Currently, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Neise and R.A. Dickey are projected as the top three in the New York rotation.

The Mets have a new manager in Terry Collins, and a couple of key members of the front office are very familiar with Young: New general manager Sandy Alderson and his assistant, Paul DePodesta, each spent time in San Diego's front office in recent years.

Posted on: February 20, 2010 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2010 10:19 pm
 

Mets' Santana shows zip in first mound session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- First workout of the spring for Mets pitchers and catchers Saturday, and probably the most notable thing of all was this: Ace Johan Santana threw a slider during his bullpen session.

Threw all of his pitches, in fact, and the man whose season ended with surgery to remove five bone chips after only 25 starts last summer walked off the Port St. Lucie practice fields with a big smile.

"His bullpen was real good," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "We noticed great extension that he didn't have last year. He feels real good about himself. We got to see the slider, which we didn't see much of last year. So he's in a very good spot right now."

Now it will be incumbent upon both the Mets and Santana to keep it that way. The club already has mapped out a careful schedule for him this spring, according to which he will not make his first Grapefruit League start until the second week of games.

The Mets think that a more conservative schedule will allow Santana to stay healthy while still preparing him to reach the 90-pitch range by opening day.

Manager Jerry Manuel made several references following the workout to keeping key players healthy and maybe slowing down some of the recovering Mets.

"Johan's really feeling well about himself," Manuel said, before adding of Santana and shortstop Jose Reyes: "We're almost going to have to pull the reins back. They're really getting after it.

"We don’t want to peak in February."

Sunblock Day? Wooo-hooo! Sun's out and temperature soared into the 70s today. Baseball weather is here.

Likes: Always one of the better guys in baseball, Johan Santana spent a long while signing autographs for Mets fans when he finished his workout Saturday. Lots of grateful fans. And one pitcher who is extremely grateful to be healthy again. ... Roy Halladay's work ethic is as good as there is in the game (he's been arriving at the Phillies' complex at 5:45 a.m. to get his workouts in) and Cole Hamels' description of him ("he's quiet but he doesn't make himself disappear") is perfect. ... The baseball newsstand at Baseball Think Factory, an excellent site and a great way to keep up with good stories and smart analysis. Plus, priceless smart alecky comments from the guys who run the shop, Jim Furtado and Repoz. ... Barefoot drive across the state of Florida on Friday was pleasant, zipping across Route 70 -- where I passed a place to go hunting for wild boar. I kept on cruising (and would have done so even had I been wearing proper footwear, for driving or hunting). ... The book Game Change is absolutely riveting. Authors Mark Halperin and John Heileman's insider account of the 2008 presidential election is fast-moving and stocked with terrific behind-the-scenes anecdotes. ... Can't get me enough grouper in Florida. The blackened grouper Caribbean style with black beans and rice was a winner the other night at the Abbey Road Bar and Grill in Jupiter, Fla. ... Gaslight Anthem's The '59 Sound is fabulous, one of the best discs I've obtained in the last few years (and a shout out to my hip bro for the birthday gift). Whip-smart lyrics and full-bore rock 'n' roll with no coming up for air.

Dislikes: Love the fact that we've reached the point where baseball feels it must formally tell players not to bring guns and knives into the clubhouses. Not.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It's funny how the night moves
"Humming a song from 1962
"We were always waiting... always waiting
"We were always waiting for something to happen
"I saw tail lights last night In a dream about my first wife
Everybody leaves and I'd expect as much from you
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my whole life
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn't you?"

-- Gaslight Anthem, Great Expectations

 

Posted on: January 5, 2010 9:14 pm
 

Big Unit last of the 300-game winners? Not likely

Mark it down: Randy Johnson's retirement, January 5th, 2010.

There goes the last of the 300-win pitchers?

With closers and specialists and hyperactive managers and increasingly fragile starting pitchers who too often don't even stick around long enough to earn decisions, pundits have been predicting for years that pitchers who win 300 games soon will become as extinct as dinosaurs.

So is Johnson the last Tyrannosaurus Rex to stalk the earth?

With his retirement Wednesday (and assuming that Tom Glavine, at 305 wins, is finished), the list of the game's winningest active pitchers now reads like this:

1. Jamie Moyer, Phillies, 258.

2. Andy Pettitte, Yankees, 229.

3. Pedro Martinez, free agent, 219.

4. John Smoltz, free agent, 213.

5. Tim Wakefield, Red Sox, 189.

At 37, Pettitte and Pedro are the youngest pitchers of the lot. Of the 30-to-35 set, Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (32) probably has the best odds to reach 300, and he's at 148. Which means, if he averages 18 wins a season, for the next eight-plus summers, he'd be in position to win 300 when he turns 40.

Of course, now that Halladay is in the NL, he easily could average 30 wins a season and win his 300th six seasons from now (attention, that was a joke).

While it's surely going to be several years before we see another 300-game winner, I find it hard to believe that we'll never see one again. Two younger pitchers who are well-positioned to make a run: The Yanks' CC Sabathia is just 28 and has 136 wins, and the White Sox's Mark Buehrle is just 30 and is at 135.

While reporting a long feature on the Big Unit early last season during his quest for 300, I talked to one coach and one young pitcher who had completely different views on the subject:

"That's something that's never going to be done again," Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa told me. "Now you've got your set-up men, your closers, starting pitchers are out of the game after 110 pitches even if they have their good stuff.

"I think if a starting pitcher wins 200 games, that will be the next milestone."

Mets left-hander Johan Santana, with 122 victories at the age of 30, isn't so sure.

"I guarantee you that if you go back and ask Randy when he had [116] wins if he thought he'd get to 300, he'd say, 'No, no way,'" Santana told me. "You don't know what your future is. There's a lot involved in winning a game. There's a lot involved that has to go right. You have to pitch well, the team has to score runs, the bullpen has to do its job. Now, imagine that 300 times."

When Johnson was Santana's age -- 30 -- he had only 78 wins.

So if you're going to insist that we'll never again see another 300-game winner, proceed with caution.

Posted on: August 25, 2009 10:00 pm
 

Twins dealt Santana because of $, not arm trouble

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the Mets prepare to face life without ace Johan Santana for the foreseeable future little more than a year after acquiring him from Minnesota, the Twins have a clear conscience.

When Minnesota declined to deliver a jumbo-sized contract to Santana and traded him to the Mets before the 2008 season, how much did the hint of arm problems for the left-hander factor into their decision?

"Zero," Mike Radcliff, Minnesota's vice-president of player personnel, said Tuesday. "Our ownership and our management didn't think that long of a contract was good business. It was just the length. That's always risk for a pitcher, whether it's a one-year deal or a 20-year deal. But we had no knowledge of any injury.

"It was the outlay that was required. And that goes along with that kind of a deal. Pitchers get hurt.  That kind of length of contract is very risky, especially for a pitcher. It's just common sense. Logic tells you that."

Upon obtaining Santana, the Mets immediately struck a six-year, $137.5 million contract with him. As he heads for season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, Santana is still owed a minimum of $98.5 million over the next four years.

"There is a differentiation between a pitcher and a position guy," Radcliff said. "[Santana] throws 200 innings a year, but he's not the biggest guy, and he's not the strongest guy. He does throw more changeups and off-speed stuff, so you can lessen the risk with him.

"But with a No. 1 guy like him, the risk is exponential."

And quite simply, that's where baseball's more economically challenged teams must make the hard decisions, must separate reason from emotion when dealing with a franchise player who is about to become a free agent.

One contract like Santana's can cripple a team with limited resources for years if the player is injured for any length of time. Meantime, while a major inconvenience for a richer team, it doesn't necessarily reduce them to non-competitor status.

"That's the small-market, big-market discussion in a nutshell," Radcliff said. "The larger-market teams have money to overcome mistakes that others of us don't. They can say, 'We'll take the risk, no problem.' For teams like us and the Royals, it can be a problem."

This will be Santana's second surgery since becoming a Met -- he underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus when the season ended last October.

His only significant injury while with the Twins came in 2001, when he was sidelined from July 12-Sept. 21 with a partial tear of the flexor muscle in his elbow.

In Minnesota, Twins players, staff and officials were saddened to hear about Santana's impending surgery.

"I hope he's healthy as soon as possible and ready to go," Radcliff said.

Likes: Great picture here from the weekend reunion of the 1979 world champion ("We Are Fam-a-lee") Pirates in Pittsburgh. Great to hear that Chuck Tanner, the manager of that team, is doing well after suffering a heart attack and undergoing surgery this spring. Tanner is 80 now, and he was one of the centerpieces of what several players said was an emotional and touching reunion. "I can't believe after reminiscing that we didn't beat the Orioles in four games," cracked pitcher Bert Blyleven. "Everybody was 5-for-5, I won five games in that series, Jim Rooker won four. ... Just seeing everybody was great. We're still family." ... The Rockies beating San Francisco on Ryan Spillborgh's 14th-inning grand slam on Monday night? They're developing into the best story in baseball. ... Who else was waiting for the Tigers to blow that 10-0 lead in Anaheim on Monday night? Closer Fernando Rodney entered in the eighth inning for the first time all year and, based on the way he handled the ninth, that might not be the last time manager Jim Leyland summons him in the eighth. ... Nick Hornby with a new book due this fall, Juliet, Naked. ... Adele's frozen custard stand in Excelsior, Minn. The Fresh Peach was outstanding today. And the Coconut Cream was exquisite on Sunday. ... The ribs and chopped pork at Famous Dave's barbecue shack.

Dislikes: The way I figure it, if you're looking for a sure thing in this ragged economy, you could do a whole lot worse than owning one of the food joints behind security at the airport. You're unable to bring liquid through security, so you've got to buy water -- or something -- on the other side. And now that they don't feed you on flights, you've got to grab some food (unless you pack it at home, which would be a nightmare trying to get through security. So, basically, for any food or drink, you're held hostage by whatever prices (or they charge or crap they serve. And at the airport near me, the Starbucks now says they will not take regular Starbucks gift cards. Apparently because they're independent and can make their own rules. So that'll be $12 for a cup of coffee, bottle of juice and a yogurt parfait to take on the plane for an early morning flight. And as if that's not enough of a rip-off, the spot where you can really use a gift card won't accept them. Traveling is so much fun.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"One love
"One blood
"One life
"You got to do what you should
"One life
"With each other
"Sisters
"Brothers
"One life
"But we're not the same
"We get to
"Carry each other"

-- U2, One

Posted on: November 11, 2008 2:30 pm
 

Correct answer in NL Cy Young? Lincecum

The thing about San Francisco's Tim Lincecum winning the National League Cy Young Award is, there is no wrong answer.

I believe Lincecum, who was dominant in going 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA, is the right answer.

But Arizona's Brandon Webb, who won 22 games?

The New York Mets' Johan Santana, who led the NL with a 2.53 ERA?

Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge, who was perfect in converting 41 saves in 41 chances?

Milwaukee's CC Sabathia, a late entrant who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA after joining Milwaukee in early July?

You can make a strong case for each. To me, the only surprise is that Lincecum was a runaway winner, garnering 137 points to Webb's 73. I pegged this one as far closer than it actually turned out.

Whatever the point totals, though, I do think Lincecum is the guy. I did have an NL Cy Young vote this year - the only postseason awards vote I had -- and on my ballot, I listed Lincecum first, Santana second and Webb third.

What separated Lincecum for me was that, in a year in which the award could have gone one of many directions, he was the most dominant. He led the NL with 265 strikeouts, blowing away Santana (206, tied for third) and Webb (183, not in the top 10). He led the NL in opponents batting-average-against (.221). He was tied for second in innings pitched (227; Santana was first at 234 1/3).

Santana was light on the wins total (16), but the combination of the ERA title and the fact that he would have had far more wins had the Mets' bullpen not blown seven save opportunities in games started by Santana leads to a serious legitimacy in Cy consideration.

Webb was the leader for much of the year, and his sinker is the most devastating in the game. But he faded toward year's end: His three-start stretch against the Dodgers (twice) and Padres late in the season in which he was pummeled for 22 hits and 21 runs (19 earned) over only 13 2/3 innings coincided with Arizona surrendering first place in the NL West.

 

Posted on: September 5, 2008 7:47 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 7:48 pm
 

Hank Steinbrenner and tampering

Would have LOVED to have been within earshot of the conversations between Toronto general manager J.P Ricciardi and his Minnesota counterpart, Bill Smith, this week as the Blue Jays and Twins played the Hank Steinbrenner Memorial Tampering Bowl in Canada.

"I didn't have much conversation with J.P. about any of that," Smith said Friday.

Too bad, because there's so much to talk about.

Such as, Steinbrenner clearly tampering with Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Burnett when he told Newsday last week, "Everybody's looking at (CC) Sabathia and Burnett, not just us. We'll see. The main concern is, are their arms going to be OK after this season?"

And, such as, the Yankees' bull-in-a-china-shop general partner blatantly tampering with pitcher Johan Santana early last December during trade negotiations with the Twins.

Then, setting a deadline on the Twins to accept a deal with the Yankees, Steinbrenner said:

"We'll see how it goes, but this is not an act. It's not a bluff. It's just reality. Because as much as I want Santana, and you can make that clear -- for his sake, to know that I do want him -- but the fact is that I'm not going to play the game."

Baseball rules clearly prohibit executives publicly discussing players from another team.

Of course, what are rules if they're not enforced?

A baseball official told me this week that Steinbrenner was reprimanded by the Commissioner's Office for that Santana comment. There was no fine levied, it was more of a stern lecture meant to educate the new kid on the block.

Clearly, based on his comments regarding Sabathia (who will be a free agent this winter) and Burnett (who has the right to opt out of his Toronto contract and become a free agent if he wishes), Steinbrenner didn't learn.

Or maybe he's simply incapable of being refined.

Tampering is difficult to enforce because, in these days of whirlwind free agency, so many executives wind up talking about opposing players. Most who do, however, are careful to speak off the record, offering background information -- without quotes or attribution -- about what their clubs may want to do in the off-season.

On the rare occasion when an executive is careless or clumsy enough to talk about a desired player when he's still playing elsewhere, baseball essentially lets it go unless, as a baseball official says, "one party is angry and came to us and said, 'Hey, we have a problem here.'"

At that point, baseball will investigate.

Steinbrenner's comment about Santana was so out-of-line that baseball officials apparently sat him down for a talk without it ever reaching that point. Smith said the Twins never complained formally.

As for his latest comments on Sabathia and Burnett, don't expect much to come of that, either. The Blue Jays, for one, simply figure that's show biz in the modern era.

"Whatever," Ricciardi told me Thursday. "I never even thought twice about it, to be honest with you. What are you going to say? What are you going to do? He can say whatever he wants to say.

"If someone is tampering on any type of job -- hitting coach, pitching coach -- it comes down to whether the guy is happy when he's here, anyway. He either is or he's not.

"And if he is, he'll stay. And if he's not happy, he'll leave."

Burnett is expected utilize his opt-out window following this season to again test free agency. If he elects to stay with the Jays, his contract would extend two more seasons (2009 and 2010) for $24 million.

Of course, Steinbrenner's comments should be a pretty good indication to Burnett that he can probably make a whole lot more than $24 million with the Yankees over the next several years.

Makes you wonder exactly what the Yankees' Loose Cannon, er, General Partner, would have to say before he actually was slapped with a tampering fine.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com