Johan Santana – On The Way?
It’s do or die time for Omar Minaya.
No matter how many times Minaya, or Willie Randolph, or any other Mets official says that the team is “comfortable” with their pitching staff, we know better — they’re NOT comfortable. Oh, we fans — many of us, anyway — are satisfied with the current state of the rotation, so long as the Sheasters pick up one decent veteran arm (Jon Lieber?) as a backup plan. Leading with Pedro, John Maine, and Oliver Perez, then crossing our fingers on El Duque and one of the youngsters, seems like a fair plan. Not ideal, but less questionable than a year ago, for sure.
But the pressure is on Omar to make THE move — the biggest move of his tenure since the Pedro – Beltran one-two punch.
The Twins have been playing chicken with the Yankees and Red Sox all winter, with the Mets a jealous bystander. Now, however, it’s time for someone to blink — and both the BoSox and Bronxters have withdrawn their offers, making the Mets the unlikely leaders. The Yankees have “officially” removed themselves from the sweepstakes, according to owner and figurehead Hank Steinbrenner — but then again, Hank is the same guy who vowed that there would be absolutely no negotiations with a certain third baseman who enjoys the company of Canadian dancers. Still, publicly, the Yankees are out, which means the Red Sox will not budge on their separate offers (one headed by Jacoby Ellsbury and the other featuring Jon Lester). That leaves the Mets and their measly 4-prospect package of Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Phil Humber, and Kevin Mulvey — not a one ready for MLB duty. Supposedly, the Twins are demanding one more juicy prospect — Fernando Martinez to be exact — and Omar hasn’t blinked … yet.
We’ve already covered the negative aspect of dumping the last of the Mohicans from the Mets’ farm system, so we won’t beat that horse again. We’ll hold our collective breath in hopes that F-Mart is not added to the package, a move that would ultimately set back the minor league system about four years. If F-Mart is added, and the Twins pull the trigger, there will be no turning back — the Mets will be playing for RIGHT NOW for the next five years.
Yes, the Mets are always playing for the present, but at this moment they also have just enough bits and pieces to be optimistic about building from within as they enter their new ballpark in 2009. Chances are good that at least one if not two or three of the aforementioned prospects can make an impact at Citi Field in the near future. Is missing the blossoming of home-grown talent in two or three years worth having Johan Santana now?
It all comes down to this: do the Mets want to stay the course and hope to grow into a longstanding contender, or throw down the gauntlet and show all of MLB they are serious about capturing elite status here and now.
Having ignored, flubbed, or barely missed on all other possibilities this winter, Omar Minaya is pressured to make a move. He has the proper size ego to pull off a deal of this magnitude — in truth, it kills him not to make a big splash. For Minaya, this is almost too easy: the urgency demands that an ace be brought to Shea, the youngsters are mostly unknown to the majority of casual Mets fans, and even if they do pan out, they’ll do it way up in Minnesota — so who in New York would even notice?
In exactly one month’s time, pitchers and catchers will be playing catch. The possibility that Johan Santana will be in Port St. Lucie at that time seems to be growing more realistic every day.