I understand Johan Santana’s desire to represent his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. And, not because I’m not crazy about the whole WBC concept.
The Mets have been burned by players being injured in the WBC before – Oliver Perez – and who is to say the fragile Santana won’t come up lame?
Santana is currently on the WBC’s injury-disqualified list because he ended last year on the disabled list, not having pitched after Aug. 17 because of lower back problems. Even so, he wants to push this through.
Santana made his full complement of starts, 34, in 2008, his first season with the Mets, but hasn’t done so since. He didn’t pitch in 2011 following shoulder surgery and made only 21 starts (117 innings) last year.
For this, he has been paid over $100 million and will make $31 million this season (including a $5.5 million buyout for 2014). For this, he won just 46 games for the Mets and only once game them at least 200 innings.
For Santana to be declared eligible the WBC must clear him physically and then be insured so the Mets aren’t stuck with the entire bill if he does get injured. Privately, Santana getting hurt in the WBC and the Mets not being stuck with his entire salary would be a plus.
I realize in today’s world this is an outdated thought, but considering all he has made and stands to make from the Mets, and considering a healthy Santana could make going to Citi Field a good thing this summer – if not for the remote trade possibility – I would have hoped Santana would show the Mets some loyalty.
They made Santana rich beyond his wildest dreams, but never pitched one playoff game for them.
Santana is a smart guy and knows the Mets won’t pick up his option for 2014, but one would hope he’d be smart enough not to risk anything in the WBC. Since he won’t be thinking he owes the Mets to be at his physical peak, if nothing else he should be thinking about staying healthy for somebody else in 2014.
After all, this is all about him.