In 2003, Brandon Claussen was the stud of the Yankees farm system. Yankee fans had been hearing his name for years, but it wasn’t until 03 that he finally made it to the majors, pitching a gem against the Mets in his first game called up. Cashman pegged him as untouchable. The Yankees had their ace of the future. Still, I was nervous. The Yankees had gone two straight years without a ring, and after every two game losing streak I feared that that the Boss would act irrationally and do the unthinkable, sacrificing the team’s future for a quick fix. Finally, it happened. Claussen was traded for Aaron Boone, a guy who had topped 75 RBIs just once in his career. Boone hit .254 the rest of the season, and although he had a pretty big hit against the Sox in the ALCS he did nothing in the World Series before tearing his ACL grabbing a rebound in an off-season pick-up hoops game. Even though Claussen has been a bust for the Reds, this trade still bothers me.
That is why I have a similar queasy feeling every time I hear that the Yankees are in talks with the Twins about Johan Santana. It’s not that I wouldn’t like Santana. He’s the best pitcher in the game and could really help us. But for the first time since I can remember, the Yankees have four young pitchers that could all be very good. Hughes, who in September was finally healthy and pitched lights out, has the potential to be an ace. At least that what we’ve been hearing for years. Even if Joba doesn’t pan out as a starter, he could be our closer of the future. And Kennedy has also pitched well at every level. Playoffs aside, Wang is young and has been great since he came into the league. Plus, all four of those pitchers are cheap and other than Wang they will stay cheap for quite some time.
Obviously, it would be great to add a pitcher like Santana. But the Yankees don’t need him. Even without him, their rotation will be fine and could be very good. The potential downside for trading him and then signing him to a long term extension is just too great. If he gets hurt, they’ve got about a hundred million dollars tied up in him plus they’ll have given up their best prospects.
Even if the Yankees don’t trade for him this off-season, I’m sure that if he stays with the Twins the Yankees will still be players to trade for him during the season. It’s going to be a long, tense eight months until the trade deadline for the Yankees young pitchers and fans like me who are eager to see them stay.