Sunday, January 06, 2008

Betting on the Dark Horse

The Twins are doing what they can to break the little stalemate they have with Boston and the New Yorks, but the supposed deals haven’t changed much. Early rumors flew about the Dodgers, Angels and Mariners, partly because they each had “acquire a veteran starting pitcher” atop of their offseason to-do list, and partly because they have deep minor league systems. But they’ve all settled for a mid-rotation innings eater, wisely or not.

On the other hand, it looks like the free agent market is certainly doing its part to goad some new teams into the bidding. For instance, paying $11 million per year, long term, for Carlos Silva. I mean, even if you WANT to have your stomach lining eaten away, can’t medical science come up with a cheaper and quicker solution? That kind of deal makes a seven-year, $140 million contract for Santana look fiscally responsible, if not downright prudent.

The Yankees would like the Twins to think that they’re the only team that’s ever paid premium dollars for a big name free agent. It’s not true. Though, to be fair, they ARE the only team to pay $16 million for four months of an alleged steroid-using 45-year-old. So they got that going for them.

But the current market for Santana was set by some other deals. Like the seven-year contract the San Francisco Giants (2007 payroll of $90 million) gave Barry Zito. Or the $18 million per year contract Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs (2007 payroll of $99 million) worked out. Or even the one-year $22 million contract that the Astros (2007 payroll of $88 million) worked out for an alleged steroid-using 44-year-old.

So I’m looking for a dark horse to emerge over the next couple of weeks. Frankly, the rest of the free agent field isn’t particularly compelling to those willing to put up the money. And Santana’s willingness (bordering on eagerness) to talk to anyone about a long-term, record-breaking deal, is leaving the rail open.
One quick heads up. Over at's blog (Tony....Killer....and Carew), Blake is running a Twins Trivia contest. It sounds like fun, and a chance to learn some stuff to stump your friends with at the next Twins game. Please check it out.

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