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Answering "Santana" mail from readers

Will Johan Santana be the newest member of the Yankees?
11/27/2007 8:27 PM ET
By Steven Goldman / Special to YESNetwork.com

Santana could replace Pettitte. (AP)
TO THE MATS WITH READER MAIL SANTANA The Pinstriped Bible encourages any of you to form a band called "Reader Mail Sananta." We're thinking folk-rock with highly literate lyrics, the occasional Dylan cover from the "Highway 61 Revisited"/"Bringing It All Back Home" period.

1: MOST LIKELY YOU GO YOUR WAY
A name that seems to be popping up, but no one seems to emphasize as a possibility to finish off the Yanks rotation would be Dan Haren. The guy is young, and my guess is, compared to Santana, for which the Yankees would mortgage their future, not as expensive. Granted, the A's will want talent...but can the Yanks package possibly Melky along with some second-tier pitching prospects for this guy?
- JM

Oh, he'll be just as expensive because he's younger and cheaper. The team that gets him can control him for longer without forking over the mega-bucks3. It sounds backwards, but because he's cheaper the A's can charge more for him. The other problem: he's not as good as Santana. He's plenty good, but there are two key factors at work here: first, he's a righty, not a lefty, and that means he won't have quite the same impact as Santana will pitching in Yankee Stadium (and Yankee Stadium: The Sequel, where the dimensions are expected to be the same). Second, he pitches in a park overly friendly to pitchers, and when he's sprung from there he's going to be just a little worse than he now appears. In 2006, his ERA was 3.75 at home, 4.44 on the road. In 2007 it was 2.82 at home, 3.34 on the road. Obviously you'll take 3.34, but there's no guarantee you'll get it... Santana's career home-road splits: 3.17 in Minnesota, 3.27 everywhere else. The difference is that there's no reason to expect that the HHH Dome has been artificially supporting his performances.

Oh, and I get a lot of notes proposing trades that involve "Melky along with some second-tier pitching prospects." How stupid/desperate do you think these GMs are?

2: IDIOT WIND (GOOSIMISM)
Wondering why you don't thing Goose will make it this year. Shouldn't he absorb enough of last year's Ripken-and-Gwynn-only ballots to push him over the hump?
- Daniel

Maybe, but if they didn't know why he should be in before, I doubt they've figured it out now.

3: STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN I hope Cashman does not give in to the Twins for Santana. Be cautious - remember the last great lefty the Yanks got? Yes Don Gullet - somehow I have a similar feeling about Santanna! The Twins seem to have a knack for being in the race with low payrolls. Concentrate on first base.
- Knapper

It doesn't seem like the Yankees have much interest in fixing up first base, but I retain hope that the brains trust is playing possum on this one so as to drive down the prices. Better to not fix it than to sign someone like Sean Casey, too... Gullett isn't a good comparison for Santana. He had a history of injury before the Yankees handed him the big bucks, including shoulder problems the year before he was signed.

4: DESOLATION ROW
I'm going to redact a couple of names here because there's a hypothetical involving PEDs, and why bring in any players who haven't been mentioned yet?

I have an issue that I haven't heard anyone discuss yet. When the Mitchell investigation report comes out it will name names that haven't been named before. We all know that part. I seem to get the feeling that people are going to look at that as the end all list, when in fact there will STILL be names that aren't named but who have done steroids, HGH, etc. For instance I am a huge "Smith" fan and I'm thinking of two possibilities:

1.) "Smith" is named. He gets destroyed by the public/baseball. "Jones" goes on to break all the records and is completely worshipped. Yet "Jones" was doing it as well. Mitchell just couldn't get info on him.

2.) "Smith" is NOT named. He goes on to break all the records and every one cheers him on for replacing Bonds' tarnished number. Now he actually DID do steroids but Mitchell couldn't find anything on him.

Obviously these names are pretty arbitrary but I'm just trying to present the situation that all the Mitchell report will do is show a bunch more names. It will not clear the air and let us start over. There will still big names NOT on that list. Heck, there are probably big names right now that are still doing some of these things. I don't think we can call the "Steroid Era" over just yet. No matter what comes of this list, I still won't be able to 100% know "Smith" or anyone else didn't do anything illegal and I think THAT'S the real shame of it all.
- Sincerely, Stefan

We also don't know how many games were fixed before the Black Sox were discovered. I suspect the number is somewhere between "many" and "a lot," and that some of the players rolled right on past 1919, into the lively ball era and on to Cooperstown. At some point, you just have to let these things go or let it totally destroy your enjoyment of the game. Having made that comparison, I should say that I don't think the use of PEDs in baseball approaches a distortion of the game or its records in any way that's comparable to the fixing of games in the early part of the 20th century. I suspect that if we ever find out what the real impact of the drugs being used is on the act of hitting a baseball, we'll be shocked by how small it is. Some of these fellows will have tarnished their reputations for nothing. Anyway, as you know I've advocated the commissioner setting a date, say 2005, and saying that anything that happened before that time is forgiven. Anything that happened from 2006 to the present day, we hit you with all reasonable penalties. The alternative is more questions like yours... But I wouldn't get so worked up over a crime that we don't even know the meaning of.

5: YOU GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY
How is possible the Yankees don't want to trade Melky and Kennedy for Santana? I mean, I know they both have an immediately future, but We're talking about a 20 game winner pitcher, two time Cy-young award and a lot more stuff (only 28 years old). Why do we have to wait for the Red Sox to get him? Come on, we're still the Steinbrenner's Yankees, aren't we?
- Arturo

The Steinbrenners still own the Yankees, more so than ever in some ways (after all, in the recent past it looked as if GMS III didn't have an heir interested in running the club), but as I said above, acquiring Santana will almost certainly take more than Melky and Ian Kennedy. If the Twins say they'll take that at the winter meetings, you can bet that Brian Cashman will say yes, shake on it, and then not stop running until he gets to the airport. Unfortunately, it's going to take more than one of the Yankees' pitchers, and that's where you start opening up more holes that one pitcher, even Santana, can fill-not to mention closing of the possibility of other deals for needed parts.

6: OFF TOPIC: CRITICIZING ABUSIVE PARENTS IN PUBLIC
I have enjoyed your writing for many years because you seem to be one of the few sports writers who is not satisfied with simply complaining. It wasn't just "Tony Womack stinks." It was "Tony Womack stinks and should be replaced with Robinson Cano." I understand the frustration associated with the screaming mother in Borders, but wasn't there something better to say than "You're the worst &@%#$! mother I've ever seen." Did anyone offer to help this woman with her child? Offer some advice based on greater experience? She probably wouldn't have taken it, but it would've been a step in the right direction. "Maam, I've raised two children myself, maybe I can offer some advice thatsbetter than simply yelling at your child." She might have replied, "Get lost you %$@#*! creep." but the world would have been a slightly better place anyway. Oh, and Farnsworth stinks! -Marc

Thanks for writing, Marc. I wish I had had the presence of mind to be constructive and analytical about the whole thing, as I get to be here, but I had a visceral reaction to an appalling sight. I really did speak without thinking. I'm normally not that brave, but I felt someone had to stick up for the child. As you point out, I reacted differently than I would when reacting to a baseball player. The difference is, as I've said here many times, for me baseball isn't personal. I disliked Tony Womack the baseball player, not Tony Womack the person. The woman in the store was repulsive as a person. I also figure-forgive my Manichean perspective here-you either have it in you to abuse a child or you don't. Once you demonstrate you're capable of that, you've proved you're worthless. Why try to reconstruct someone who was never constructed in the first place?

I just know someone is going to take me to task for that last thought...

Steven Goldman's Pinstriped Blog appears daily on YESNetwork.com. "Forging Genius," Steve's biography of Casey Stengel, and "Mind Game," the story of the Red Sox' 2004 championship, and "Baseball Between the Numbers," from the authors of Baseball Prospectus, are now available at Amazon.com. More Steve is available on YESNetwork.com in the Pinstriped Bible, and the Baseball Prospectus Web site. Your questions, comments, suggestions welcomed at oldprofessor@wholesomereading.com. The opinions stated above are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to anyone connected in an official capacity with the YES Network.
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