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?
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.
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.