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Santana's Return

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Let's browse through the four players who will shortly be on their way to the Minnesota Twins.

While it's difficult to imagine that a deal of this magnitude could have gone down without garnering a marquee name like Hughes or Ellsbury, it's important to remember that trades like this are more than skin deep.  At face value, the Mets robbed the Twins of their biggest and best commodity, and at the current juncture it's difficult to see it any other way.  We, as fans, develop an attachment to players, and it's easy to feel as though something or someone was taken from us without our consent.  In reality, however, we won't know who "got the best" of this transaction for many years.  Three of the prospects aren't MLB-ready, and for Gomez and Guerra, their true contributions may not be all told for another ten years.

It's always easy to review a trade like this on the day that it happened and state with earnest despair that the Twins were severly undersold.  Fortunately for us, this isn't the whole story.  I don't expect this to make anyone feel better; it doesn't necessarily make me feel better.  But it is true.

Let's take a look at four young men who will have a world of pressure thrust upon them from the Twins fan community.

Carlos Gomez, OF
Born:  12/04/1985    B/T:  R/R
Height:  6' 2"    Weight:  170 lbs


Year  Age  Lvl   AB  2B  HR   SB  BB  SO   Avg   Obp   Slg
2004   18   Rk  150  10   1    8   5  29  .287  .333  .427
2005   19    A  487  13   8   64  32  88  .275  .331  .376
2006   20   AA  430  24   7   41  27  97  .281  .349  .423
2007   21  AAA  140   8   2   17  15  23  .286  .363  .414
Minors         1291  62  18  141  82 250  .278  .339  .399

When originally discussing the Mets as one of the Twins' trade suitors, this is what I said about Carlos:

Gomez is a defensive prospect, and is one of my top center field prospects that we'll be discussing over the next few days.  Strong arm, good range and great speed make him a better natural center fielder than Milledge, although he doesn't appear to have Milledge's offensive upside.  He needs work on his strike zone judgement and, hopefully, can develop some power.  Carlos Gomez could be a very exciting player.

Largely thought of as this transaction's "center piece", Gomez currently projects as a speedy defensive-oriented player who will sit at the bottom of the batting order.  His walk-to-strikeout ratio certainly appeared headed in the right direction during his time at AAA New Orleans last summer, but split his time between there and New York.  In his 125 major league at-bats, Gomez hit .232/.288/.304.

Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay's exciting and speedy outfielder, has some comparisons to Carlos Gomez.  While Crawford was a year younger at each level, he climed one level a season before reaching the majors.  He struck out a lot, walked rarely, stole a lot of bases and didn't hit for power.  Crawford had just over 400 more at-bats in the minor leagues than the former Mets prospect, but his line of .295/.336/.400 is very similar to Gomez's .278/.339/.399.

Phil Humber, RHP
Born:  12/21/1982    B/T:  R/R
Height:  6' 4"    Weight:  210 lbs


Year  Age   Lvl     IP   ERA   H/9  HR/9  BB/9   K/9  WHIP
2005   22    A+   70.1  4.99  9.47  0.77  2.30  8.32  1.31
2006   23    A+   38.0  2.37  5.68  0.95  2.13  8.53  0.87
2006   23    AA   34.1  2.88  6.55  1.05  2.62  9.44  1.02
2007   24   AAA  139.0  4.27  8.35  1.36  2.85  7.77  1.24
Minors           289.2  4.11  8.18  1.09  2.61  8.28  1.20

John Sickels, who writes over at SBNation site MinorLeagueBall, gives Humber a B- prospect grade.  Armed with a low-90's fastball, big curve and a "power" change up, Humber has the tools to be a moderate strikeout threat if he can keep the latter two pitches working.  He's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, and after two very brief stints in the majors for the Mets in '06 and '07 is the most major league ready player Minnesota is getting in the deal.

It's believed that the gap between who he is and who he can be is small, and as a result the Twins should be able to look to him for immediate help going into 2008.  He'll likely be competing for a job in the rotation, and with no clear-cut ace it's nearly impossible to know where he fits in between the number one and number five slots.  All the same he's a talented pitcher who could be a solid number two, but projects closer to an average number three or four starter.  If the Twins want to give him an opportunity to start 30 games this summer, he could be a pleasant surprise.

Deolis Guerra, RHP
Born:  04/17/1989    B/T:  R/R
Height:  6' 5"    Weight:  200 lbs


Year  Age   Lvl     IP   ERA   H/9  HR/9  BB/9   K/9  WHIP
2006   17     A   81.2  2.20  6.50  0.33  4.08  7.05  1.18
2007   18    A+   89.2  4.01  8.03  0.90  2.51  6.62  1.17
Minors           178.2  3.28  7.47  0.66  3.43  6.82  1.21

Guerra gets a B+ grade from Sickels, who believes that this pitcher was the number two prospect in the Mets farm system.  Over at John's site he held a poll asking his readers, on a scale of 1 to 10, "how good of a prospect is Guerra?"  He received mostly votes for a 7, followed by 6 and 8.  Check out the thread for some good discussion.

With a low to mid-90's fastball and a curveball (work in progress), it's said that Guerra's changeup is his best pitch.  Certainly, looking at his existing minor league line there isn't much to point out to get elated over.  Still, he'll only be 19 this summer and was thought of very highly within the Mets organization.  As he matures, all three pitches should emerge as better than average; the changeup is already impressing scouts and the curve is, at times, showing a good, sharp break.  Guerra is young and is still a shaky projection, but there's a decent ceiling that hopefully can begin to develop further with the Twins this summer.

Kevin Mulvey, RHP
Born:  05/26/1985    B/T:  R/R
Height:  6' 1"    Weight:  170 lbs


Year  Age   Lvl     IP   ERA   H/9  HR/9  BB/9   K/9  WHIP
2007   22    AA  151.2  3.32  8.60  0.24  2.55  6.53  1.24
Minors           173.0  3.02  8.22  0.26  2.50  6.45  1.19

This will only be Mulvey's second full season in the minor leagues, and he received a B/B+ prospect grade from John Sickels.  Mulvey's fastball clocks in the low to mid-90's, but has a larger arsenal than the other two pitchers en route to Minnesota.  In addition to the major league ready four-seam fastball Kevin throws a change, a curve and a slider as his strikeout pitch.  Back in 2006 in sounds like he possessed an "all-occasion" two-seam fastball, but I didn't see any recent reports duplicating that information in 2007.

In yesterday's thread on the Twins-Mets trade, Roger brough up how similar Mulvey is to our own Anthony Swarzak.  While Swarzak is a year younger, has thrown many more minor league innings and has yet to breach AAA, overall minor league numbers do have similarities.

Pitcher  '07 Age     IP   H/9  HR/9  BB/9   K/9  WHIP
Swarzak     21    446.0  8.52  0.50  2.76  8.54  1.25
Mulvey      22    173.0  8.22  0.26  2.50  6.45  1.19

While Mulvey may not have Swarzak's strikeouts, he still has some decent peripherals.  In the end a vast majority of Mulvey's career minor league line comes from his 173 innings in AA Binghamton last summer; there's a lot yet to be learned about this one.  He still has something to prove, and while his ceiling isn't as high as Guerra's the scouting reports are positive.  We may have to wait a year before we know how good of a find Mulvey is, but looking at his collegiate numbers there's reason for optimism.  He's been able to hold on to those ridiculously low HR/9 marks, he has the ability to tally some strikeouts, and he shows plus control.

Wrap

These four players aren't bad players.  They simply aren't Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury or Jon Lester.  Both Carlos Gomez and Deolis Guerra have a chance to turn into special players, Phil Humber will more than likely break camp with the Twins in the spring, and Kevin Mulvey has some upside as well.

Even after we've separated our feelings of "what we should have received" from "what exactly did we get", it's going to be hard to be happy with what transpired yesterday.  That's entirely natural, because we did just trade the best starting pitcher in baseball.  Just remember that this deal was made with the future in mind, which coincides with A) not bringing back Torii Hunter, B) trading for one of the game's most promising young hitters and C) locking up Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer to long-term deals.

If there's any objectivity, we could step back and begin to see what kind of a plan Bill Smith has put into action for the Twins.  While he may not have made the deal we wanted him to make, he has acted clearly and decisively with the options available to him.  Who knows, years from now we may look back on this trade as one that favored the Twins.