While Twins fans ponder a future sans Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, Tigers reliever Todd Jones (above) surveys the latter’s depature in The Sporting News and and muses that while “it’s always hard to gauge what you are getting when you deal for prospects”, “in the Twins’ case, a few factors are working in their favor”. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

No. 1, Terry Ryan still is connected to the organization. He has an unbelievable ability to evaluate talent. Need we mention, A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser. If you think that was luck, how do you explain Chuck Knoblauch for Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton? So if Ryan had his hand in this deal, rest assured as long as there’s no major injuries, the Twins will be OK.

No. 2, the Twins were not left holding the bag. They can feel good knowing they made a competitive offer to Santana. When he told them no thanks, they waited and got the best deal they could instead of turning into Jim Bowden and the Nationals. Remember when Bowden waited and waited and thought he could convince Alfonso Soriano to stay in Washington? Instead, Soriano walked and the Nationals didn’t get much.

Here’s some advice to GMs: If you can’t sign your guys, forget about posturing and fans’ blowback and deal the guys immediately. And when Santana gets his six or seven years at $20 million per, don’t say, “Ah. It’s just about the money.” Some of it is, for sure. But Santana is one of those guys who clubs can’t wait to make a mistake on. GMs can’t get hurt on Santana deals. He’s in his prime and has an amazing track record. Plus, he just went to a huge market to a team that didn’t make the playoffs and whose No. 1 starter from a year ago (Tom Glavine) has gone elsewhere. This creates the financial perfect storm for Santana.

Though Jones’ point about the Pierzynski for Nathan/Bonser/Liriano trade is valid (if not repeated elsewhere), I’m not at all certain that “GMs can’t get hurt on Santana deals”. We’ll see how Barry Zito’s 2nd season with the Giants works out — presumably he’ll accomplish more for San Francisco than Mike Hampton did for Colorado.