Whether you're a card collector, prospector, fantasy nut, or just a regular ol' baseball fan, the Santana trade will probably have some major implications for your life. Santana, who was already played on a relatively competitive team and in a mid-range market, will now be pitching for a major market team favored to win the NL East. His ERA should see a nice drop since he'll be in the NL, and the demand for anything with 'Johan Santana' written on it will be sky-high by mid-June, including autographs, rookie cards, bobble heads and maybe even assorted candies.
If you were already a Santana card collector, your stash may see a nice spike in value, while fantasy drafts may see him go earlier than ever. Other players involved in earlier trade rumors will probably see price fluctuations over the next several weeks and months, including Fernando Martinez, Deolis Guerra, Jon Lester, and Phil Hughes. There's already several threads on the Beckett Message Boards about the fate of Guerra prices since he'll be out of the New York spotlight, and most people seem to think there will be very little demand for his rookie refractors and auto cards, and I tend to agree. But, I also think he'll do much better in the Twins farm system than he ever would have done in the Mets, especially considering the fact that the Twins have produced several top notch pitching prospects in the last few years, while the Mets have had a total of zero young stud pitchers over the same time period. I'm excited to see what the Twins can do with a young, talented player like Guerra.
With Santana gone, all eyes will soon be turning to Francisco Liriano as he makes his comeback form Tommy John elbow surgery. Fans and collectors alike will be holding their collective breath, waiting to see if the new Liriano will be anywhere near as good as the old Liriano. At the recent Twinsfest, Liriano commented, "I'm throwing all my pitches now. Sliders, changeups, everything -- no problem." It's likely that the Twins will be very cautious with their use of Liriano until they feel confident he has fully recovered, but so far all signs point to a solid return for Liriano in 2008. If he can return to his 2006 stats, Liriano should ease the pain of losing Santana for Twins fans.
Breaking down the trade, I think the Twins really got a bad deal. They had several monster offers from the Red Sox and Yankees, yet waited until they got next to nothing for Santana from the Mets. Instead of pulling the trigger when they should have, the Twins big-wigs got greedy and blew their chance at a nice collection of young talent. Guerra will be a solid pitcher, maybe even a #2 or even #1 starter at some point, but Carlos Gomez is not going to replace Torii Hunter and the other guys involved in the deal are just spare bull-pen parts. If you add up all the trades and non-signings the Twins have made this off-season, they basically traded Matt Garza, Torii Hunter and Johan Santana for a guy who strikes out too much and could be a huge bust (Delmon Young), a pitcher that might replace Garza in about 5 years (Guerra), a guy who will never replace Hunter (Carlos Gomez), and some bull-pen pitchers that will barely make a dent in the vacuum left by the exit of Johan Santana. What a horrible off-season for Twins fans.