Mets Spring Training Question 20: Johan Santana

With 20 days until pitchers and Molinas report, question #20 for the Mets is the health of Johan Santana.

Based on the risky assumption that Santana’s reconstructed shoulder will finally be healthy enough for MLB competition, this is what the projected 5-man rotation looks like for the Mets:

1. Johan Santana
2. R.A. Dickey
3. Jonathon Niese
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. Dillon Gee

You can change the order as you see fit; bottom line is that the above are the five men the Mets hope will take the mound in a five-game period. There are question marks for all five, but let’s focus on Santana. What if his arm isn’t ready? What does the rotation look like then? Something like this:

1. R.A. Dickey
2. Jonathon Niese
3. Mike Pelfrey
4. Dillon Gee
5. Chris Schwinden

Alternatively, you might write in Josh Stinson or Jeremy Hefner into that #5 slot. We saw Stinson very briefly in a few relief appearances last September, and Hefner was released by two different clubs during this past winter before the Mets signed him. Hefner is interesting in that he’s “new” and he showed success at the lower levels of the minors, but his performance in the hitter-happy PCL in 2011 was so-so; just based on the numbers it appears he’s ahead of Stinson and maybe Schwinden as well — though that’s not saying much. Hopefully, though, that means he’s better than the ageless Miguel Batista — who is also around “just in case”.

Here’s a crazy thought: what if Santana isn’t ready, and one of the other projected starters goes down with an injury? It may sound pessimistic but think about it – Pelfrey has been dealing with a chronic shoulder injury for at least two years, Gee’s shoulder has been weak for longer than that, and you never know what kind of freak accident might occur during those PFP drills. I shudder to think what the rotation might look like if two of the projected five don’t survive spring training.

So there it is, question 20 — is Johan Santana ready for MLB competition and what does the rotation look like if he’s not?

Discuss …

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. Jujo January 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm
    As I have stated before, the starting pitching is what will really hurt this year. Can Javier vazquez be signed to a low rate but high incetive contract? How about minor league deals for J Pinero, R Harden and C Young? Have the Mets attepted talking to these guys? I think Muguel Batista and even Nelson Figueroa could help fill some innings as spot starter/long reliever. We need to get past the 5th inning and then the bullpen should be able to save 75-80% of games if we are in the lead. Your thoughts?
  2. mic January 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm
    I would rather Jeurys Familia or Harvey make it out of Spring. I am not from the school that says you spend a full year at every level. Just cause you are good at AAA does not predict ML success….automatically.

    But I AM of the mindset that you win your spot. If the generation K3 guys beat out the pretenders I say fine. If Schwinden, Batista, Stinson et al cannot pitch better than Harvey, Wheeler, or Familia ….let them go.

  3. Josh Z January 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm
    this scares me, i mean even if healthy he surely wont be as good as when he was healthy so whats his healthy ceiling? Thats another question for you: If healthy how good is he still?
  4. DaveSchneck February 1, 2012 at 9:48 am
    No matter what the Wilpons or Alderson say, the biggest sin imposed upon Met fans this winter is the lack of depth at SP and C. No one including Johan knows what Johan will be. And, taking the best case scenario, however unlikely, that he returns and is both durable and a reasonable fascimile of himself, there are still 4 more starters that can get hurt or regress. Gee has shown good makeup but he is no sure think yet at the MLB level. The 6th, 7th, and 8th alternatives are very weak and hallmarks of a non-competive team. The Mets need a lot of Lady Luck shining on the SPs this year and perhaps they are due for some.
  5. argonbunnies February 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm
    I bet Johan will still challenge guys, and thus not walk too many of them.

    I bet his change-up will still move, which means that when he throws it in a good spot with 2 strikes, he’ll get whiffs.

    That’s about it. A fastball-changeup pitcher with a mediocre fastball is… underwhelming to say the least. As a 33-year-old coming off shoulder surgery, I would be stunned if Santana’s fastball is even league average. I mean, he’s surrounded by 28-year-olds who haven’t had shoulder surgery. And it’s not like he was throwing 97 before the injury.

    So I expect lots of hits, lots of homers, and just enough clutch stranding of baserunners not to be a total disaster. Can you tell I’m still scarred by 2008 Pedro?

    If spots do open up in our rotation, I think there are plenty of available FAs who’d be better bets than what we currently have. Hopefully we grab Harden, Davies, and others, and one of them pans out.