“The biggest loser in that Johan Santana race was not the Yankees or the Red Sox,” alleges the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum‘s Jon Spencer. “It was the Indians, and they weren’t even bidding.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

See ya, C.C. You’ve become too rich for our blood. Your market was set last week when the Mets gave up four top prospects for the right to sign Santana to a seven-year deal worth $150.75 million.

It’s another smack in the face with a checkbook for a team still reeling from its three-game collapse to the BoSox in the ALCS.

Maybe the best scenario would have been for the Santana to stay with the Twins this season, giving Cleveland a better chance of signing C.C. using contract numbers more favorable to them. (Can you say “drastic hometown discount?”)

But let’s face it. C.C. started stepping closer to the door when lefty Barry Zito got his seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants before last season. And when the Cubs coughed up $91.5 million to keep Carlos Zambrano for five seasons. And when reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavy recently signed a three-year, $53 million extension. Peavy is the poorest of the three and still checks in at $17.3 million per.

Crunch the numbers any way you want, it doesn’t look good for our Tribe. The old axiom that you can never have too much pitching rings a little hollow today. C.C. has become too much pitcher for the Indians, and for once we’re not talking about his expansive waistline.

Sabathia is saying all the right things, how Cleveland has become like “home” for this West Coast kid. But we heard the same thing from Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome before they bolted for greener pastures, leaving the Indians to restock from the farm system and free agent bargain bins.

Having won 96 games last season — 102 including two playoff rounds — it probably behooves Cleveland to stay the course and make another strong push for the World Series with C.C. before he leaves the Indians high and dry. Most, including those pushing the buttons, probably favor that approach.

But I’d rather be proactive, trade C.C. before he leaves on his own and trust that former 18-game winner Cliff Lee or someone from a stockpile of young arms — Adam Miller, Aaron Laffey or Jeremy Sowers (who overcame a tired arm to pitch well at the end of last season for Buffalo) — can come reasonably close to making up for his loss.

At some point during the bidding for Santana, the Yankees supposedly dangled pitcher Phil Hughes and centerfielder Melky Cabrera. The Red Sox reportedly countered with pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. I’d make either of those deals for C.C. in a heartbeat.