2010 Analysis: Johan Santana

It seemed as though every postgame of a Santana start began with, “Johan didn’t have his best stuff, but …”. Indeed, Santana rarely had his best stuff. Most of the time, he looked more like a wily, crafty veteran, using his smarts, guile, guts, and savvy to overcome fading stuff and keep his team in the ballgame for seven innings.

Don’t get me wrong – that’s not to make Santana sound like Jamie Moyer. More like Catfish Hunter in the second half of 1978, or Bobby Ojeda from ’86-’88 (if you’re old enough to remember that far back). That’s still a very good pitcher – better than most. But it’s not what a team expects from a pitcher being paid $21M+ per year.

Santana struggled with his command and lost considerable velocity on his fastball and slider. As a result, he induced fewer swings and misses and spent more effort to get them. Despite several assurances that he was completely healthy, it was finally discovered that Santana suffered a shoulder tear that required season-ending surgery in September. Santana described the injury as similar to the one that Jorge Posada suffered. It should be noted that Posada had arthroscopic surgery, while Santana received a much more invasive procedure.

2011 Projection

It’s neither realistic nor fair to believe that Johan Santana will pitch for the Mets during the first half of 2011. If his rehab goes absolutely perfectly, there’s a chance he’ll pitch at some point in 2011, but no one has any idea how effectively. He could come back topping out at 85 MPH, for all we know. All things considered, it makes sense for the Mets to assume Santana will not pitch in 2011 and plan accordingly. It appears that 2011 will be a rebuilding season anyway, so there is no need to rush his rehab and chance further damage. Eat the $22.5M he will earn in 2011, with the hopes that he can return as a top-of-the-rotation starter in 2012 – when the team will presumably be better and he will be making $24M (and another $25.5M guaranteed in 2013). It could work out for the best, for everyone.

Click here to read the 2009 Analysis of Johan Santana

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. Gil Reich November 9, 2010 at 11:46 am
    Nice post. But twice in the last paragraph you wrote 2010 instead of 2011. [Feel free to delete after reading]
    • Joe Janish November 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm
      duh … thanks for the correction, and the kind words.

      Now let me go fire my editor … Omar! you got some ‘splainin to do !

  2. Walnutz15 November 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm
    For a couple of years now, I’ve been waiting for an indirect quote — “One Met said” — attributed to Johan Santana, citing that he hates playing for this team.

    Granted, I don’t think he’d be stupid enough to have one of those anonymous quotes tied back to him; but then again – I never thought I’d hear that he was mid-day putting on the golf course (as opposed to the “night-putting” we heard so much about in Caddyshack) with someone other than his wife.

    Go figure, that the one guy I would have never associated with the constant Ringling Brothers-type atmosphere that surrounds this organization…..jumped right into it, given the stories this season.

    ……however, who would’ve blamed him if he ever did came out and said that he was fed up here; considering the lack of run support he’s gotten through the years as a member of the Mets?

    [All of this is beside the point; but I don’t dismiss that the Mets may have been in a bind w/Santana going forward…provided they didn’t get real baseball executives in here — PRONTO!]

    They still are, given his health status…..but we might actually surround him with solid help — or ultimately move him for a decent enough package one day.

    I’m not expecting to see him anytime soon — read: not until the ASB or so…..and when I do; I think we should temper our expectation of him being the dominant force he’s always been.

    All depends on his rehab, of course…..I still think he’ll be front-line material — but never worth what he’ll be paid.

  3. CatchDog November 10, 2010 at 9:00 am
    Every night at dinner, my sons take turns saying Grace. After giving Thanks and Blessings, they end with the words “and may Johan return to form”.

    Going to the BIG GUY can’t hurt.