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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 at 12:09 pm and is filed under Baseball, Mets Rumors & News, Yankees Rumors & News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

You have to feel for Twins GM Bill Smith.

When long-time General Manager Terry Ryan resigned from his post in September, he left behind a record of creative wheeling and dealing that would be hard for anyone to follow. Over the years, Ryan had maximized his assets in a manner essential to any small market team looking to consistently swim in the deep end of the pool. Most famously, in 2003 Ryan acquired three young prospects named Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for impending free agent A.J. Pierzynski. It’s tough to figure out how Giants GM Brian Sabean still has a job after that one.

Still, while I don’t mean to speak ill of Ryan, the timing of his resignation was rather curious given the contract status of Johan Santana, who incidentally Ryan plucked from the Houston Astros (by way of the Florida Marlins) in the ’99 Rule V draft. Could you really blame Smith if he feels a bit like he’s been stuck with the bill here?

Because a lot has changed in the game of baseball since Ryan pulled off his signature moves, and you have to believe that Ryan understood this. In 2003, the Johan Santana derby would have been a one horse race, and the Yankees would not have blinked at surrendering every prospect of any value in their system in order to snag their ace. But the economics of the game have changed, and even large market teams have been forced to reexamine the valuation of their assets – a trail blazed in large part by the brain trust of the Boston Red Sox, who have won two World Series Championships since the Yankees last cleared the first round.

Which brings us back to Bill Smith, who must have thought he’d be playing this game with the best hand at the table, but now it appears just the opposite is true. No one wants to ante up for Santana at the cost of prized prospects and free agent dollars. Bottom line, that expenditure is just too many assets for any one player. And so now, Smith must decide which dog offer is better than the next dog offer, and he’s got to do it by spring training. It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

According to Charley Walters in the Pioneer Press, Smith is “not panicking while holding out for the best deal,” however offers from the Yankees and Red Sox are “diminishing by the week,” as both teams appear to be growing more and more comfortable that neither rival is serious about acquiring Santana and both appear content to watch Johan go and pitch for the Mets. That prospect surely bugs the Yanks more than the Sox, but not enough to force their hand and do something stupid. Phil Hughes is off the table, Clay Buchholz was never on the table, and thus the best offer for Santana now appears to belong to the Mets – an offer that Walters writes will not include top-prospect Fernando Martinez. Ouch.

At this point, it all amounts to a waiting game, and sooner or later Smith is going to have to take a deep breath and pull the trigger. We feel for you, Billy, we really do.

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