Santana Effect

With the addition of Johan Santana, here is the what the Mets’ starting five looks like:

1. Johan Santana

2. Pedro Martinez

3. Orlando Hernandez

4. John Maine

5. Oliver Perez


There are many who will argue that El Duque is the #5, and not the #3, but my guess is that this is the way the rotation will shake out — barring injuries — when spring training breaks at the end of March. Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph put significant emphasis on past history when evaluating players, and though Orlando Hernandez’s 2007 was abbreviated, the numbers he put up in that limited time were excellent. More to the point, if you take out the handful of his awful starts — which, in hindsight, had to have been affected by health issues — he could have been considered their most dominant starter. When healthy, he was almost a cinch to go seven innings and give up three runs or less.

OK, there may be a better argument for John Maine to be the #3 — the only thing going against Johnny is that his second half was an abysmal disappointment compared to his first-half dominance. But here’s the kicker: go ahead and make your case for Maine — it doesn’t matter! Put Maine #3, Ollie #4, and El Duque #5 and you tell me who suddenly has the deepest starting rotation in the NL East?

This is perhaps the greatest impact of the “Santana Effect” — everyone drops down a notch, and the Mets look really strong at both the backend and the front-end. A week ago, we were concerned that the Mets starters were a collection of question marks — effectively, four #3s and a big hole / hope against hope at #5. We were upset that the Mets one-two punch at the top couldn’t match up with the likes of Hamels / Myers or Smoltz / Hudson. Today, however, the question is not the front-end for the Mets, but everyone else’s back end. Who in the NL East — in baseball, for that matter — will go into the 2008 season with the quality of John Maine and Oliver Perez at #3 and #4? Who has a guy with the dominating potential of Orlando Hernandez at #5?

Speaking of the fifth spot, Johan Santana’s presence could be the best thing to happen to Mike Pelfrey over the long term. In the short term, yes, it probably bumps Pelfrey back to AAA (assuming there are no injuries). However, we’ve argued here several times that Pelfrey needs to spend more time in the minors for seasoning. Maybe now, with the pressure of MLB games lifted, Pelfrey can concentrate on commanding a change-up. Who knows, maybe he’ll even have the chance to pull the cobwebs off an overhand curve. In any case, I don’t think any young pitcher in today’s game can be hurt by extra innings in the minors — nearly all are rushed up too early. Lets watch Pelfrey continue to polish his all-around game, establish an off-speed pitch, build confidence, and dominate at a lower level. There’s no doubt he’ll have an opportunity at some point to fill in for El Duque for some spot starts — and develop at a more realistic pace.

Bottom line: what a difference a day makes.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. archeress January 30, 2008 at 8:26 am
    well i will miss that fast flash of light gomez. what a joy to watch. but wow. the pitching lineup you describe. wow is right.
  2. isuzudude January 30, 2008 at 9:44 am
    I don’t want to rain on the parade (as I’ve been throwing one of the ticker-tape variety by myself all night), but it is important to at least keep in mind that physicals still need to be passed and a contract extension still needs to be worked out to make this deal 100% official. I know we’re already 95% of the way, but how devastating would it be to get all worked up in a frenzy imaging Johan joining the Mets just to have the rug ripped out from under us because of Humber’s balky elbow? So don’t uncross those fingers just yet…

    But anyway, I can’t resist dreaming about the Mets’ rotation of 2008, either. I’m getting picky, Joe, but I’m in disagreement with 2 things in your projected rotation order. #1 – I think I let Pedro take the ball in the season opener over Johan. We all know how great Santana is, but I don’t think we’ve seen a more dominating pitcher in all of baseball over the past 20 years than Pedro in his heyday (F U Roger Clemens). No, he isn’t as good as he was back in the late 90s, but I think it’s more about respect at this stage of the game. He’ll be the longest tenured Met of any of our starters to open the year, and he’s made his way back from the biggest obstacle that he’s ever faced during his career (shoulder surgery). He’s also entering the final year of his contract, so this might be his final opportunity to be the Mets’ opening day starter – something Johan will likely have 4 or 5 more years to proclaim. Also, since the Mets are opening up the season with 6 games on the road before their home opener against (who else?) THE PHILLIES, Santana would then be in line to open that series. How beautiful would that be? #2 – As you mention, I’d move Perez up to 4th and El Duque to 5th, if only for the lone reason to break up the lefties if Johan is the ace. Additionally, if El Duque is most injury prone, we’ll want to skip his spot whenever necessary, and being the 5th starter gives us the most flexibility. I’m nit-picking, I know.

    With our projected rotation, I’d say forget about the East – there’s no better rotation in the entire NL! The Diamondbacks are 2nd, but are hoping Randy Johnson can contribute as a #3, and the Cubs would be close if they acquire Bedard. Other than that, I don’t see anyone who matches up against our 1 thru 5.

    And that leads me to wondering…could this be the best 1 thru 5 in Mets franchise history? I’d love to compare the numbers following the season pitted up against the 1988 Gooden-Darling-Fernandez-Cone-Ojeda and the 1971 Seaver-Gentry-Koosman-Ryan-Sadecki rotations.

    On the topic of Pelfrey, does this acquisition make it possible for him to transition into a reliever at the AAA level? I know this is something we’ve discussed at length on this blog, but my gut tells me no. With Pedro, Perez, and Duque all scheduled to come off the books by 2009, we’re going to need at least one prospect to fill a rotation spot, and odds are it’s Pelfrey. Figure on him getting 20-something starts at AAA this year, hopefully winning 10+ games with an ERA under 3.00 and a strong K to IP ratio, with a few spot starts with the Mets sprinkled in.

    One final thing. Not that it’s a big deal, but what should this season’s slogan be now that Santana is likely in the fold? Last year it was “Our Season Has Come.”’s headline banner says “Final Season! Mets at Shea Stadium,” which sounds bland and depressing. Any suggestions?

  3. sincekindergarten January 30, 2008 at 10:11 am
    “It Don’t Mean A Thing, Unless We Get The Ring.”
  4. murph January 30, 2008 at 10:20 am
    Johan, Pedro, Ollie, El Duque…

    with the exception of John Maine, we could have a rotation where last names aren’t needed.

  5. skibolton January 30, 2008 at 11:54 am
    I’d leave pelfrey at AAA starting games. The only thing that worries me is that we have very few options for spot starts now at AAA. If sombody gets hurt, we have sosa and pelfrey, but there isn’t much depth after that. I think that the depth looked ok with humber and mulvey at AAA, but it just got much weaker. I’d be curious to see if this convinces the mets to start rustich out as a starter this season. I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed to see that. I think that vargas bostick trade certainly looks slightly better now. I’d hope to see a veteran or two brought in to fill out spots in AAA, since there is now some room on the 40 man roster. I don’t think I’d object to a freddy garcia signing at this point either, since he’d now be insurance in the latter part of the season.
  6. Micalpalyn January 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm
    My turn:

    Santana-Pedro-Ollie-Maine-(El Duque/Pelfrey).

    Omar must get Ollie his extension. He is 26, 3 yrs younger than Santana and his maturity (and Maine’s) could really be realized this yr.

    El Duque: Unfortunately I disagree. When he is good he is golden. When he is bad..Again I think Pelfrey is still here because Omar still thinks he can get over the hump. I think he could/should be #5, with El Duque relieving until there is an injury/performance issue.

    Like Ski says: I think we need to look at what is left. Thats 2-3 players OFF our 40man (mulvey?) so there is room, and as has been well spoken we have a #1 draft pick comming and plenty of oppurtunities to sign international players.

    Isu: Yes I think Pedro should get the ball on opening day. But think of the buzz if its Santana. MY FEAR of course is a Santana injury.

  7. joe muscaglione January 30, 2008 at 1:50 pm
    Super-stoked about this lineup. On paper, how does everyone feel it compares to the ’86 staff?
  8. joe January 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm
    isuzudude, I’m totally fine with Pedro on Opening Day, and telling all of MLB that Johan Santana is “merely” our #2 !!!

    per joe m’s comment: to refresh everyone’s memory:

    1. Dwight Gooden vs. Santana
    2. Ron Darling vs. Pedro
    3. Bobby Ojeda vs. “John”
    4. Sid Fernandez vs. Ollie
    5. Rick Aguilera vs. El Duque

    Tough call … I think I take the ’86 rotation — they all had banner years that season (and completed 27 games!).

  9. skibolton January 30, 2008 at 2:57 pm
    The mets only have 36 players on the 40 man roster as of right now. They may be leaving a spot or two open for spring training, but I don’t think a few incentive laden signings will kill them. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing the team make a move for brad wilkerson now. He play’s right, hit’s right handed, and can play first if we need it. I’ve heard he may already have an agreement with seattle in case the trade for bedard goes through, but how long will he sit around and wait?
  10. isuzudude January 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm
    Skibo – Wilkerson is actually left-handed (and more strikeout prone than Rob Deer, for that matter). I still think a Kevin Mench signing would strengthen our RF situation, as well as our bench from the right side. I concur with signing Garcia, and I’m also interested in inviting guys like Ramon Ortiz or Odalis Perez to spring training, with intentions of starting them in AAA in case of major league injuries.

    SK – that slogan works for me, brother!

  11. Matt Himelfarb January 30, 2008 at 4:29 pm
    In a perfect world, I’d like to see a Santana/Martinez/Maine/Perez/Heilman in our rotation, but I doubt the Mets will revisit the Heilman talks after acquiring Johan. Still, I’d like to see them move Hernandez into a spot-starter role and have someone like Odalis Perez or Ramon Ortiz compete with Pelfrey for the 5th spot, with Pelfrey either making the team or heading back to AAA as a starter.
  12. isuzudude January 30, 2008 at 4:46 pm
    I simply don’t understand where some of you folks are coming from. Why does it make sense to demote a 9-5 pitcher who had a 3.72 ERA and 1.17 WHIP last year to spot starter/long relief duty, and let guys with annual ERAs over 5.00 and WHIPs over 1.50 be our 5th starter? How would it benefit the team to have a guy like Odalis Perez start every 5th day and last no longer than 5 innings each start with El Duque relieving him with the Mets already trailing by 4, opposed to having Hernandez start and last 7 innings, giving up 3 runs, and handing the bullpen a chance to earn the save? Can someone please justify why El Duque is not qualified to be a starting pitcher anymore???
  13. sincekindergarten January 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm
    Gotta chime in on the #5 . . . ID, you’re right, and agreeing with my slogan (ripped off from Jim Thome when he was with the Indians) has nothing to do with it. El Duque is easily better than either Odalis Perez of Ramon Ortiz. Another starter who can go 7 innings a start is that less wear and tear on the pen, which, IMO, was the weak spot last year. Duaner Sanchez coming back will go a long way towards making that a stronger spot, and Matt Wise and Steve Register will make their contributions. I see Register winding back up with his former team, though, as Ricardo Rincon is probably going to wind up being needed at Shea.
  14. Micalpalyn January 30, 2008 at 5:44 pm
    I think Aaron, Wagner , Wise and Sanchez loom as huge. We have to demonstrate that the late innings will not be an achilles heel.
  15. Walnutz15 January 30, 2008 at 6:40 pm
    From Johan to a former teammate of mine….Ruddy Lugo (aka — Julio’s brother) — what a difference a day makes…lol — j/k

    I played with Ruddy in Brooklyn during the late 90’s, and the fact that I just referenced “the late 90’s” tells me that I’m getting old.

    Probably a good move just to see if they have anything come Spring Training, and for minor league filler later on. But this kid can throw in the pen, provided any of our mainstays goes down at any point.

    Stockpiling of arms…..Omar’s M.O. — too bad they didn’t do right by another Xaverian Clipper, Pedro Beato. That kid’s looked pretty food in the O’s system of late.


    Mets claim RHP Lugo from Athletics

    New York, NY (Sports Network) – The New York Mets claimed right-handed pitcher Ruddy Lugo off waivers from the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.

    Lugo was designated for assignment last Friday after the A’s claimed outfielder Jeff Fiorentino off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.

    He went 4-0 with a 4.30 earned run average in 27 games over three stints with Oakland in 2007 and also had two wins and a 9.28 ERA in 11 games with Tampa Bay.

    Lugo combined for a 6-0 record and a 5.40 ERA in 38 relief appearances overall. He walked 37 and struck out 34 in 48 1/3 innings.

  16. Walnutz15 January 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm
    “pretty food” — or pretty good, in normal language.

    On that note, it’s time for me to eat…I be starvin’.

  17. sincekindergarten January 31, 2008 at 5:25 am
    I’m wondering if we’re going to see Willie juggle the rotation a bit, like Bobby Cox does whenever the Braves face the Mets. I’d be happy to see Johan and Pedro leading off most of the series against the Braves and Phillthies.
  18. Walnutz15 February 1, 2008 at 2:35 pm
    The latest:

    Mets closing in on six-year contract with Santana
    Posted: Friday February 1, 2008 2:07PM;
    By Jon Heyman,

    Johan Santana and the Mets continue to make progress on a record-setting contract that is expected to make the two-time Cy Young winner a $150-million man, has learned. People with knowledge of the talks say they expect a deal to be completed by the 5 p.m. EST deadline.

    Santana and the Mets are discussing a contract extension for six years that is expected to pay Santana close to $22 million a year, according to sources familiar with the talks. In addition, it is believed the Mets may add about $7 million to Santana’s $13.25 million salary for 2008.

    That expected new $20 million salary for ’08, and the six additional years at $22 million, could bring Santana’s total haul to $152 million. The previous record for a pitcher was Barry Zito’s $126-million, seven-year deal signed last winter with the San Francisco Giants.

    It is believed the players union has been pressing Santana’s agents, Peter and Ed Greenberg, to beat the $150-million threshold, as Santana is setting the standard for pitchers and will likely affect the salaries of other top-of-the-line starters. The Mets, who originally hoped to keep the package to five additional years, have been hoping to keep the total compensation below $150 million…

  19. sincekindergarten February 1, 2008 at 6:58 pm
    They agreed. I’m sure that the details will follow.

    I’ve got to get me a Mets’ Santana jersey!

  20. archeress February 2, 2008 at 9:38 am
    this salary craziness is going to drive up the cost of those hot dogs even more, no doubt…how much does a person need? I mean, he’s going to be in the 97% income tax bracket, right?

    did you guys see the new nike mets sneaks? pretty cool: