Friday, December 15, 2017

Goodbye Slamtana

after losing Bryan Shaw earlier this week to the Colorado Rockies, the Indians have now also lost their biggest free agent on the market. that's right, this afternoon, on December 15, Carlos Santana agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, per Jon Heyman. it comes with a fourth year, $17.5 million option as well, according to Jesse Sanchez. and so it's time for me to write another goodbye blog.😢

let's go back to the beginning. on July 26, 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Santana (and Jon Meloan) to Cleveland for Casey Blake and cash. once in our system, he played strictly behind the plate for the Single A Kinston Indians, Double A Akron (then) Aeros, and Triple A Columbus Clippers. as he was coming up, it was assumed that prospect Santana would be the Tribe's future every day catcher. not only that, but the switch-hitter was pegged to be this big power bat, which the Indians desperately needed.

when the phenom made his Major League debut on June 11, 2010, fans were so excited. he was immediately thrust into the 3rd spot in the batting order, but later turned into the cleanup hitter. unfortunately, Santana suffered a huge blow on August 2 when he blocked the plate in the game against the Boston Red Sox and collided with a baserunner. the terrifying event resulted in a high grade strain of his LCL, hyperextension of his left knee, and season-ending
surgery. talk about a welcome to the Tribe. it was devastating.🏥

the next year, he continued to catch but played some 1st and DH'd on occasion, too. concussions soon became a problem for Santana, and that's when the Indians decided to try him at 3rd base. it didn't work out as they'd hoped and he ultimately became a 1st baseman/designated hitter. in addition, he's played right field when it was necessary in National League parks during Interleague play. i personally watched him play a couple innings in left field as well, in a blowout game at Progressive Field in 2012. (for the record, he acquired two putouts.👍)

since 2014, Santana's worked very hard to become an above average 1st baseman. he never won a Gold Glove (at least not yet), but he was a finalist for one after the 2017 season. on the contrary, he just won Wilson's 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Award for 1st Base this past November.

aside from his disappointing 2010 rookie campaign, Santana never played less than 143 games every season and accumulated over 600 plate appearances each year. in the last five years, he's played a minimum of 152 games per season. when his days of catching were done and concussions were a thing of the past, he was exceptionally durable. he loved baseball and he loved to play. whenever a manager tried to sub him out of a game to give him extra rest, he hated it. Santana even played through back pain once in a while because he wanted to be in the lineup so much. no doubt all his constant playing time helped him finish his career with the Indians as their all-time HR (174) and RBI (587) leader by a switch hitter.

his batting order position varied and he got shuffled around quite a bit. as i said above, Santana started batting 3rd before moving into the cleanup spot. when it seemed as if he was struggling as the cleanup hitter, he found himself more at home in the 5th and 6th spots. and in his most recent years with the Indians, he was batting a lot of leadoff and 2nd thanks to Terry Francona's belief that he could succeed there. shockingly, he did a nice job at the top of the lineup.

it couldn't be explained but typically, Santana always performed better in the second half of a season. no matter though because by the end of the year, his overall numbers looked great. yes, he struck out over 100 times on average, but his walk totals generally weren't far behind. for example, he had 124 strikeouts in 2014, yet led MLB with 113 walks. while he did frustrate fans early on in his career, they eventually came to realize just how important he was to the team and in the lineup. i remember a few short years ago, some people wanted him to be traded; now, i don't know anyone who didn't want "Slamtana" to come back.

photo courtesy of

when the Indians were eliminated from the postseason on October 11, Santana told the media that this was his home and he wanted to stay in Cleveland. he even began talking about getting back to the playoffs with the Tribe in 2018. but we are all aware how baseball, at the end of the day, is a business and regardless of how much a person is tied to a team/city, the right amount of cash can be enough to pry anyone away.

it recently came to light that Santana's agent ensured the Indians that they would have an opportunity to counter any offer Santana received from a team before he signed somewhere else. clearly, there was no way the Tribe could top this deal from Philly. it's basically what they gave Edwin Encarnacion last offseason, and with limited money to spend now, keeping C-San for $20 million per year was just not possible. sigh. i was so naive, i really thought we would convince him to stay. this hurts.😞

because the Indians extended Santana a $17.4 million qualifying offer back on November 6--which he declined on November 16--and because Santana's new contract with Philly is over $50 million, the Indians will receive a compensation draft pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A in the 2018 June draft. suffice it to say that's hardly any consolation to fans at the moment.

the Indians and Phillies do not play each other in 2018, nor are they in the same spring training league. therefore, we will not be seeing Santana again unless our teams face off in the next World Series. so i guess i can just put those five unsigned Carlos Santana baseball cards i have away. speaking of...

Santana was a difficult guy to get an autograph from, i'm not gonna lie. i know he appreciated the fans, but he wasn't big on signing for them, and certainly not when he was the club's catcher. he rarely if ever signed in the players parking lot, but over the last few years, specifically after he stopped being a catcher and no longer had to warm up in the bullpen (which isolated him from fans), he would sporadically sign along the 3rd baseline at least. if you ever got his auto, good for you because that's a hard one to find.👏

i got his autograph three times in his eight years with the Indians--once when i was on the field during Indians' batting practice and twice after games in the parking lot. the last auto i got from him was after the final regular season game in 2014. i think that's probably the only reason he was willing to sign. while various other players stayed and signed for every person who was there, Santana signed for a small number of fans. i was lucky to be one of them. funny story. if you're a season ticket holder, then you probably know Margie. she's an older lady who knows everyone on the team. like, i mean she KNOWS them and they know her. anyway, she saw Santana signing at the small gate on the opposite side from the main gate entrance where she was standing. so she ran all the way over, but when she finally got to where i was and squeezed her Indians Yearbook through the gate, Santana announced he had to go and ran to his car to leave. her response? an emphatic "this is bullshit!" it was kind of hilarious, mostly because i had never heard her swear before, but i felt bad.

i also have a baseball that Santana hit during batting practice before one of the games i went to in 2013. Danny Salazar caught it in right-center field and threw it to me after i repeatedly called his name. (i believe this was right after Salazar's second call up to the big leagues.) i was unable to get Santana to sign it though.

so despite the fact that i'm sad we won't be hearing Bob Tayek announce him as Carlos Saaaaaaantana! anymore, i want to wish him all the best! it's been a crazy eight years, filled with ups and downs, good times and bad, and happy and sad memories. you will be missed, Carlos, but good luck to you, your wife Brittany, and your kids Carlos David, Savian Yasmin, and Luna Star in your new endeavors in Philadelphia. i hope the city treats you kind.👋

feel free to share any stories you have about Santana while he was a Tribesman in a comment below!

i've watched Santana grow throughout the years and i'm so proud of the player he's become, but i'm admittedly worried about us. losing a guy in the middle of the lineup who could hit 20-30 home runs a year and drive in 70-80 runs creates a big offensive hole. the Indians need to figure out who is going to replace that production. not to mention, they now have an open spot at 1st base because there's no real every day 1st baseman currently on their ML roster. as has been speculated for weeks, this could have a direct affect on Michael Brantley's future.😕

many fans, writers, and people in the front office think the issue can be solved simply by putting Brantley at 1st base. on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings on December 11, however, Francona conjectured, "i think right now, he's an outfielder," per Jordan Bastian's blog on then during the skipper's sit down with reporters on December 13, when he was asked if they had internal options for 1st base should they be unable to re-sign Santana, Tito named Encarnacion and Lonnie Chisenhall, but then conceded, "i think we'd probably like to sign somebody." (source: transcription by an unknown author on prior to today's news, i heard the Indians were talking with 1st basemen Logan Morrison and Adam Lind. now that Santana is for sure gone, i expect those talks to become more serious.

if you've been keeping up with my offseason Brantley blogs, then you know i don't think he should move to 1st base. i provided several reasons and details why at the end of my November News post. you can read that here: Why Michael Shouldn't Move to 1st Base.

who do you think will play 1st base for the Indians in 2018? someone we already have, someone on the free agent market, or someone we trade for? leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments.💡

for updates on where Michael will be in the field next year and how he's recovering from his right ankle surgery, follow me on twitter @clevelandgirl23. and don't forget you can join my subscription list if you'd like to receive notifications when i post new blogs. just enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of the page.📧

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