Follow-Up: Santana Kicks Rivalry Into High Gear

For those who haven’t seen it, the Mets exploded the offseason to bits with their trade for Johan Santana.

Here’s what people are saying about the deal:

ESPN’s Keith Law says the Mets are arguably the best team in the National League now. He adds the Twins got a raw deal, not being able to grab Mets’ top prospect Fernando Martinez or young pitcher Mike Pelfrey. I wholeheartedly agree.

Jim Callis of Baseball America also says the Twins got a low hand. The four prospects are all Major League probables, but risks are plenty. Personally, the Twins should’ve taken the Yankees proposal of Phillip Hughes, Melky Cabrera and Co., if that was on the table.

Shane Victorino said the Phillies shouldn’t be considered second rate after the deal. “It’s one significant move, but we made four moves to make our team better. We added in a third baseman, a right fielder, moved me to center, got Brad Lidge. We made our team better. They acquired a great pitcher, but we’re a lot better team, too.” Whoa, Shane, you also lost Aaron Rowand and still need some pitching. But I agree for the most part.

Jim Salisbury of the Inquirer says the Phillies will absolutely feel the effects of the deal.

Ken Davidoff of Newsday spoke to David Wright, who is loving the current Mets rotation. “Not only what he brings on the field, but for our younger pitchers to develop under a guy like Johan, a guy like Pedro, you can’t ask for a better situation,” he said. How true.

(yes, them) are chiming in, saying the Mets should be among the top favorites for the World Series for 2008’s odds. The Phillies? They don’t say, but I’d guess top-8.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer thinks the Santana trade will bring the Mariners closer to dealing for Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard. Hey, Gillick, Carrasco, Madson, Outman and Marson for Bedard?

And Larry Brown Sports says “hold the phone, kids,” because he isn’t handing the Mets the 2008 World Series trophy yet.

Yup, this is why they play the games.

Of course, as I commented in the game thread, there is a huge positive out of all this: The Phillies and Mets rivalry has just been amped up a ton.

Just the volume of our comments section in the past 24 hours (and other Phillies blogs) show that the Mets fans are celebrating in our faces because, well, we are the team to beat. Still are. We won the division last year. Now the target is on our backs.

It seems the Santana deal is working much like the Yankees deal for Alex Rodriguez in 2004. Maybe the Phillies answer at some point with a big deal; maybe they wait until mid-season to pull off a deal involving a Nomar-type player (like Burrell?). Whatever the case, the rivalry is growing evermore.

No longer can we say the Mets and Braves are top rivals in the East. In 2008, it’s all about the Mets and Phillies. Sure the Braves will be in the mix, but we’ve all been hoping for this rivalry to come — the fandom, the slurs, the berating. It’s more fun with these two teams. Way more fun.

A few of the more tolerable Met fans in the comments said that the 2008 race for the NL East title will be tremendous. One said “first one to 100 wins … wins.” I pretty much agree — the race is more heated than ever, and it’s up to the Phillies to answer, both on the field, and in the front office.

Get ready, fans, we’re in for a hell of a ride.

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