Santana criticizes Twins' front office

Santana criticizes Twins' front office

MINNEAPOLIS -- The frustration that swirled in the Twins' clubhouse following the team's inactiveness at the trade deadline on Tuesday was hard to ignore.

But that firestorm reached a new level on Wednesday. That's when comments by ace Johan Santana surfaced, criticizing the front office for a continued lack of doing what it takes to compete.

The comments ran in an article in Wednesday's Star Tribune and addressed Santana's frustration with the team trading second baseman Luis Castillo to the Mets and not getting anyone in return to help in the club's playoff push.

"I'm not surprised," Santana was quoted when asked about the lack of another trade. "That's exactly how they are. That's why we've never going to go beyond where we've gone."

And the ace said that it might jeopardize his future with the franchise.

"You always talk about future, future, future," Santana told the paper. "But if you only worry about the future, then I guess a lot of us won't be a part of it."

"Why waste time when you're talking about something that's always going to be like that? It's never going to be beyond this point. It doesn't make any sense for me to be here, you know?

Santana wouldn't elaborate on his comments Wednesday, saying that he had said all he wanted to say a day earlier. But the two-time Cy Young Award winner did confirm that his statements were indeed how he felt.

"I was just being honest," Santana said.

The Twins ace certainly had the support of the clubhouse in regards to his remarks, as his teammates backed his assessment of the front office's moves.

"I was happy to hear that," Torii Hunter said of Santana's words for the organization. "What Johan said sums it up. I've been saying that forever.

"They've been building for the future for the last 10 years. I don't get it. When are you going to stop building for the future and go for now? All I keep seeing is future, future, future and I'm getting tired of that. I'm getting to the point where I need to win."

Hunter is set to be a free agent at the end of this season while Santana and closer Joe Nathan will be free agents following the '08 season. There have been questions as to just how the club will be able to keep all three of the players under the club's current payroll, with the feeling being that they likely would have to accept a pay cut for all three to remain in Minnesota.

With Santana hinting that his willingness to stay might be affected by the moves this week, both Hunter and Nathan were asked if they felt the same way. Hunter clearly agreed, saying that the time to talk about an extension for him is now -- or else.

"[This] is one of the many reasons why I wanted to talk before the end of the season, because when the end of season comes around, I'm out," Hunter said.

Nathan said that while the Twins were unable to make a move this time won't directly affect his decision of whether to re-sign with the club, it certainly does leave some questions.

"I'm not one to hold a grudge," Nathan said. "This is one bad thing they've done among a lot of good things. I definitely still want to be here. But you know, it's something that gets you to think. It makes you wonder if competing is enough [for them]. I know the 25 guys in here want to do more than just compete. We want to get to the World Series."

While their ace's comments were plastered all over the news, the players didn't feel like the distraction was necessarily a bad thing.

"I think this is healthy," Nathan said. "It may be controversial but at least it's for the right reasons because guys want to win. ... It can't hurt to talk about that. It can only help and hopefully open some eyes. Maybe it will help us, bring us together even more in this clubhouse."

The players all reiterated that while they are frustrated, they won't let the lack of trade deadline movement distract them from their goal of winning this season. But it was clear that it's developed into an us vs. them mentality where the players are intent on showing the front office that they can win despite not getting additional help.

"Now we have to get to the point where we don't want to raise the white flags," Hunter said. "We have to try to win and prove to our own people that we have a good team. So we're going to keep fighting."

Twins general manager Terry Ryan wouldn't comment on Santana's words, saying that he hadn't read the story and would wait to hear from the player himself.

"Usually if somebody has something to say, they'll come to me," Ryan said. "I'm here and accessible."

As for the assertion by the players that the only thing the club did was take a step backwards by losing Castillo, Ryan wasn't willing to agree with that assessment.

"I don't do anything to try to take a step back in the organization," Ryan said. "I do the best I can with all the information I have to try and take a step forward. It's no different than any other year I've been around.

"I have a job to do and it's a difficult job because you can't please everybody. I try to do what's best for the situation and the club."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.