Let's get serious about Santana: Would the Twins want Johan back?


There have been at least two returns of an all-star player back to the Minnesota franchise after going playing somewhere else for a while.

The two that stand out, on opposite ends of the spectrum, was when Fran Tarkenton returned to the Vikings after a stint with the New York football Giant, another was when Randy Moss returned after a few years on the NFL wilderness.

One was wildly successful, one was not. (You can probably guess.)

So this talk about the Twins being interested in bringing back the once-dominate, now questionable Johan Santana to Minnesota fuels a lot of speculation and emotions. But bet with our heads, here, and not our hearts.

To give credit where it is indeed due, the Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III had the scoop last week, writing that "multiple sources have confirmed that the Twins also have connected with former Twins star Johan Santana, who missed all of 2013 with the New York Mets following the second surgery on his prized left shoulder in three seasons."

Neal did sound a cautionary note: "Santana, who will be 35 on March 13, would definitely be a reclamation project, as he might not be ready to pitch in a game by Opening Day."

But the tea leaves say the Twins fans would be stoked to see him back, and return to his glory days when he won two Cy Young awards with the club.

Yahoo! Sports jumped on the bandwagon, saying, "if anybody can come back from having made only 21 starts since the start of the 2011 season, it's him. At worst, if it doesn't work out, Johan can retire a Twin."

From there, ESPN pounced on a quote from Santana's agent Ed Greenberg, nothing that Santana had sold his Upper East Side apartment, indicating that he at least was done with being a Met. “Johan still loves Minnesota,” Greenberg said. “It has created an interesting option for him."

But now, at least one sportswriter, from CBS Sports, is circumspect. Or, at least, thinking it through a little more.

"And then came the surgery to his left shoulder. He returned in 2012, but was only able to make 21 starts thanks to a back injury," writes Matt Snyder. "He wasn't his old self. There were some signs, sure, such as his two shutouts -- which included the first no-hitter in Mets history -- but overall, Santana had a 4.85 ERA (79 ERA+) and 1.33 WHIP, the worst mark in his starting career by a healthy margin."

His fastball velocity - once in the 93-95 range - was down to 88-89 miles per hour. Can he still afford to throw that high-stress slider? These are the main questions the Twins, so desperate for pitching, must consider before having a happy reunion rather than an embarrassing bust.

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