The Future Is Cloudy; The Past Is Slanted

There’s no one to blame; no missives to fire; no tantrums to throw.

Divergent reports suggest that Johan Santana is either going to be out for the entire 2011 season if his next throwing session goes poorly—NorthJersey.com story; or he’s experiencing general peaks and valleys stemming from shoulder surgery of this kind and fully expects to pitch this year—ESPN.com Story.

Is it that relevant?

When Santana’s back and ready to pitch—even in a compromised way—he’s back and ready to pitch. He’ll have to learn to work around a diminished fastball, but the pitchers to whom he’s compared with this type of injury—Mark Prior and Chien-Ming Wang—had separate issues such as poor mechanics and lingering health problems to other parts of their bodies that Santana does not have.

If I had to guess, I’d say Santana winds up pitching at some point this year with a further declining fastball and works his way around that with a greater reliance on his changeup and spotting his pitches. It can be done.

In any event, the Mets and everyone involved with them know where this season is headed. In a nightmarish division with three good teams ahead of them; the ownership morass; and injuries/prohibitive contracts/question marks as to who stays and goes, it’s a transition year as Sandy Alderson and his staff sift through the muck and get everything in line.

Johan Santana isn’t going to change that result one way or the other.

What I find retrospectively ludicrous is the assertion that the Red Sox and Yankees “knew” something when they didn’t trade for Santana in early 2008; that there’s another reason to savage the Mets for making the deal to get, at the time, one of the top three pitchers in baseball.

The two clubs were “smart”?

No, they weren’t “smart”; they were lucky.

This ESPN Story from before Santana was traded to the Mets said that the Yankees offered Phil Hughes as part of a deal; the Red Sox offered Jon Lester. And before making any snide comments about the story having been written by Buster Olney, thereby rendering it something out of a Philip K. Dick sci-fi thriller, the New York Daily News said basically the same thing.

To credit either Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman for this is idiotic; then to suggest some innate, beforehand knowledge of what would happen is worse.

Crediting Cashman for this is like blaming him for the first dance with Carl Pavano—it makes no sense.

All along, the Yankees and Red Sox gave the impression of preferring to shy away from Santana; that they were only engaging in the talks because of the “other guy” and they wanted to drive up the price or force the Twins to look elsewhere. And that’s what happened. If the Yankees and Red Sox were smart for any reason, it’s that.

In the end, the Twins badly overplayed their hands and got nothing from the Mets in terms of players; the Mets signed Santana to what amounted to a free agent contract that’s gone pretty much as almost all long term contracts for pitchers go—a couple of productive seasons; injuries; and hoping to get something from the player in the latter years of the deal.

The front offices of the Yankees and Red Sox didn’t “know” anything; nor did the vast majority of people who claim to have predicted this in a vague, generalized, non-specific way.

It’s after-the-fact gloating. Nothing more.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN.


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  1. #1 by Joe on March 13, 2011 - 4:41 pm

    Well “lucky” only has so much to do with it. I don’t know that they knew anything anyway. But it is obvious the risk associated with pitchers on long-term deals. The problem with that, is the Red Sox handed out long, expensive contracts to Lackey and Beckett after that. And the Yankees to CC and Burnett. And Johan at the time, was better than at least 3 of those guys. So their philosophy either changed some, or well, I don’t know.

  2. #2 by The Other Mike on March 14, 2011 - 6:53 am

    Do you think the Marlins are contenders? Or are you just saying that they’re ahead of the Mets?

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