Feel free to post your comments/questions below regarding the Santana deal, since my ESPN column’s Conversation has been, um, overrun.
Meanwhile, my ESPN mailbag has been filling up. Three people wrote to say that Walter Johnson is the best pitcher in franchise history – technically true, but I don’t see that as a practical way of looking at the question, and I wasn’t using “franchise” in a business sense, but in a city/nickname sense. Several others wrote to say that Roberto Clemente was the best Rule 5 pick ever; he has Santana on career value, but Santana was the best pitcher in the American League for about a four-year stretch, and that peak crushes Clemente. One guy wrote in to argue both points and screwed up his own email address.
EDIT: One other point worth mentioning on the Rule 5 draft. In Clemente’s day, acquiring a player via the Rule 5 draft meant acquiring him for life, since there was no free agency and the reserve clause was treated as a perpetually renewing form of indentured servitude. Now, of course, if you acquire a player via the Rule 5, you only get his rights until he earns enough service time to become a free agent. So the return Clemente gave the Pirates will never be matched because the system doesn’t allow it. Adjusting for that context, the Santana pick is clearly the better return.
And then there’s this from a Twins fan:
(217) Paddy Boston 2008-01-30 07:43:00.0
Jack Morris, Jack Morris, Jack Morris. Johan Santana is not the best pitcher in Twins history.