Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yo, Johan! How good will you be in '08?

Hey, I thought I read somewhere a while back that Johan Santana was going to be pitching for the Yankees or Red Sox in 2008, no doubt about it. That there was no way the Mets had the goods to swipe Santana away from the Twins, especially since they weren't willing to give away Jose Reyes in a deal.

Guess you can't believe everything you read.

After a couple months of stalled trade talks, back-and-forth proposals and a few of Hank Steinbrenner's bold proclamations, the Mets suddenly emerged as the front-runner, then reached a tentative deal Tuesday to acquire the left-handed ace.

The real stunner isn't so much that the Mets got Santana, but how they got him. While the Yanks and Sox were tossing around well-known names like Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury - widely considered future big-league stars - the Mets were able to send a so-so package of prospects Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra to Minnesota in exchange for the two-time Cy Young winner. While they are four of the Mets' top seven prospects, none of them projects to be much of a fantasy impact player in 2008.

If it's impact you're looking for, though, Santana's the guy. As if the dude wasn't already the top fantasy pitcher in the game, he now moves to the light-hitting National League (In his 16 interleague starts the past four seasons, he's 10-3 with a 2.16 ERA and has held NL hitters to a 1.84 average). He'll pitch next year at Shea Stadium, a pitcher's park where he sports a career 0.60 ERA. And the Mets own what could be the NL's most potent offense, which is an upgrade from what Santana had with the Twins.

My preliminary fantasy rankings for 2008 put Santana at the sixth overall spot - behind Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and David Wright - and that was with Santana still pitching for the Twins and coming off what some might call a "down" year in 2007. I'm almost tempted to move Santana up to fifth overall - he's definitely the first pitcher that should be taken off the board and may be even more valuable than he already was, if you can believe it. It'd be an upset if he doesn't with another Cy Young in '08.

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