Santana to Mets: Sox Win Again

1196273812The long-awaited trade of Johan Santana happened yesterday with more of a whimper than a bang. The Twins received four prospects from the Mets, none of whom seem Major League ready in 2008, and the nation was spared further Red Sox-Yankees recriminations.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester will be walking through that door for the Sox in 2008, just as the Yankees held on to Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. The longer this dragged out, it had the feel of a Cold War mutual deterrence game between Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman. Neither could afford to blink, but neither wanted to put their finger on the button.

In the end, both GM’s got the outcome they wanted the most: Santana in the National League

Epstein doesn’t have to convince his bosses, or the fans, that holding on to the kids was the right thing to do. He has the cache of a two-time World Series winning GM, and with Ellsbury and Lester playing such a dramatic role in last year’s championship—not to mention the home-grown contributions of Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis—the sentiment was there to hold firm.

Cashman has a slightly different proposition. Now that blustery Hank Steinbrenner has taken an active role, the GM has to go through the whole trouble of explaining his side again. This has to be terribly frustrating for Cashman who wrestled control of the organization from the knee-jerk Tampa contingent a few years ago.

As much as Hughes and Kennedy have potential, the Yankees are at least a year behind the Sox in getting their system churning again. If Hughes and Kennedy struggle, and especially if Santana wins 20 games for the Mets, Cashman will hear about it on the back pages of the tabloids.

But Cashman is convinced he is doing the eight thing, just as Epstein is, and time will likely prove him right. Time, however, is not exactly a luxury in the Bronx now that the Yankees haven’t won a World Series in seven years.

The other winner in all this is the fans who will witness a new chapter in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. High-priced trades and free agents are out, fresh and exciting kids are in. A generation of fans will grow up debating Hughes-Buchholz, Ellsbury-Cabrera, and Pedroia-Cano.

Pitchers and catchers report in less than three weeks.