Johan’s Debut

You may have seen the game on SNY — or will watch the replay this evening, but I’ll give you my notes from the game as I saw from Tradition Field.

Johan Santana

Johan got knocked around, but there’s no reason to panic. His velocity was good, around 93-94 and maybe a few popping a bit more than that. However his location was not great, as he was getting too much of the plate and left a few right over the middle, including one crushed by Juan Gone. By the way, I still wouldn’t get too excited about Juan Gonzalez and his comeback attempt; I’m convinced it was a flat, floating changeup that he jumped on and put over the fence.

Johan spent a lot of time warming up before the game; I’d guess he threw around 60-85 pitches all told between pregame, in-between innings, and the game.

Aaron Heilman

Aaron’s mechanics looked a bit off, which is nothing new. He was getting under the ball frequently (low elbow just prior to, and at, release) and as a result his fastball was up most of the time. Somehow he manages to stay on top of his changeup — maybe he concentrates more? — and he threw a few nasty ones, including one to whiff Albert Pujols.

Billy Wagner

Billy the Kid wasn’t hitting triple digits, but I’d guess he was in the mid-90s on some of his offerings. His command was pretty good, keeping the ball at the knees and missing in the dirt. He was tinkering in the bullpen with a big overhand curve, which didn’t look so hot to me. It is too much of a change in velocity from his fastball; he slows down his windup and you can see it coming a mile away. Doesn’t help that it’s far from a “Lord Charles” – it’s a hanger. Unless it improves drastically in the next few weeks, let’s hope he shelves it.

Nelson Figueroa

Figgy is a lean, wiry guy with an easygoing, loose motion. He has a 3/4 delivery, but he dropped down sidearm a few times in his bullpen session. He has a quick release to the plate, which should keep runners close. His stuff is OK — an average fastball with decent life that seemed to be around 90-91, and he mixes his speeds well. He fooled one hitter by throwing in the high-80s most of the at-bat, then reaching back and putting some extra mustard on strike three; my guess is he hit 93 on that pitch.

Duaner Sanchez

It was a pleasant surprise to see Duaner, though he didn’t look comfortable. His warmup session in the bullpen was abbreviated and not too serious. I’d guess he threw about three-quarter speed for half his session, and less than half speed for the rest of his pregame. Once in the game, he didn’t appear to be ready to go, and his velocity was nowhere near the Duaner we know — probably in the high 80s — and Pujols jumped all over one of his fastballs like it was BP. Eventually Duaner settled in and probably got above 90 for a few pitches, and his ball had the good down and in “run” or movement that made him so successful in 2006. Despite the good movement, he was a bit up in the strike zone — he needs that ball to get more sink. He threw two downright nasty changeups in his one inning of work.

Joselo Diaz

This guy has a thick lower body, reminds me a bit of Armando Benitez in that sense — but sans the belly. He uses that thick base to propel the ball around 95-96 by my approximation, but keeps his fastball high in the zone with not much movement. His fastball reminds me of Mike Scott’s – before Scott learned how to deface the ball. Diaz also throws a really hard slider, one that breaks down sharply around 92-93, but had a hard time keeping it close enough to the strike zone to get swings and misses. If he learns how to throw a straight change, he could be a deadly force. Until then, he’s a AAAA guy.

Ricardo Rincon

The little lefty threw lots of junk, stayed around the plate, then every once in a while popped a fastball around 90-91 that looked like 100 compared to his 83-86 MPH offerings. He left several pitches up, and he can’t afford to do that. He changes speed and location on every pitch.

Eddie Kunz

This is one big dude, a horse. He’s a sidearm slinger with a quick release, but doesn’t get as low as Joe Smith. He hummed with pretty good velocity, I’d say around 92-93, and his ball had good sinking and sideways movement. In many ways he reminds me of Aaron Heilman — body type, motion, arm angle. Unlike Heilman, he’s not herky-jerky and doesn’t have much deception — he might want to try to use his glove to hide the ball a little better. He kept the ball too high in the zone today; if he wants to make the team he’ll have to get his sinker down around the knees.


Ramon Castro is looking fit and mobile. Not exactly catlike, but he did move well behind the plate today, blocking several pitches in the dirt.

Fernando Martinez
made a spectacular, diving catch in the ninth inning, but the eventual winning run tagged up from third and scored on the play.

Ruben Gotay did something to silence those critical of his righthanded hitting — he took one over the leftfield wall from the right side in the bottom of the ninth to make it a one-run ballgame.

The Cardinals had an impressive, tall lefty named Jaime Garcia who threw a lively fastball (93-95) and mixed in good breaking stuff. He’ll be seen again, I’m sure.

Only at Tradition Field

In the third inning, a car model and license plate number was called out as the dirtiest in the parking lot; the owner won a free car wash.

By the way, I’m curious … if anyone watched the game on SNY, and they had radar readings, I’d love to know how close my guesstimates were to the actual MPH. Comment below, thanks.

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. » Room For Rincon? » Mets Today March 11, 2008 at 12:04 pm
    […] mentioned last week, Rincon changes speeds well and has been spot-on with his location in his most recent outings. I […]