Aug 11

Which Johan Santana Shows Up Tonight?

Watching Johan Santana pitch this season has been much like reading the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde. A twisting tale of the agony and ecstasy in the duality that some say exists in all of us. Although not quite as extreme, the concept is not lost on what has been s strange season for the Mets left-handed ace.

Leading up to and including his date with Mets history and lore on June 1st, Santana was on top of the baseball world as he led the Mets with a 2.38 ERA and subdued any talk that he was on the decline after an 18 month recovery from anterior capsular surgery in his left shoulder. The Mets ace was back and had once again become an intimidating presence on the mound – capped off by tossing his 131-pitch no-hitter, the first in Mets franchise history.

However, that night would become a turning point to the season for Santana and just like that a change set in that transform him and his performance into the antithesis of what we had come to expect.

After June 1, the former Cy Young award winner was suddenly in the throws of a pitching slump – unquestionably the worst stretch of his career. In his next eight starts, Santana pitched to an unsightly 6.54 ERA, The swagger was gone, the confidence at a season low, and the dugout whispers suddenly turned into worries and a deep and abiding concern. The Mets say an ankle injury was the cause and soon the southpaw was placed on the DL which seemed like a good excuse to give his seemingly dead arm some much needed rest. Hey, whatever it takes, right?

That said, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal offers up an encouraging report on Johan Santana who will take the mound tonight against the rival Atlanta Braves. Fresh off Santana’s three inning rehab start in Brooklyn, pitching coach Dan Warthen spoke with Costa and if he’s right, we may see the crafty lefthander who thrilled us for the first two months of the season:

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said the difference was evident in Santana’s overall demeanor. “There were four or five starts where it just wasn’t Johan,” Warthen said. “He generally lights up a room. He has enough energy to light up this whole city on game day.” After the no-hitter, Warthen said, “He was having the kind of energy that would light up a 20-watt bulb.” The fatigue led to reduced arm speed, Warthen said, which led to lapses in control. Santana initially dismissed the ankle injury. But two more dreadful outings convinced the Mets he needed a breather. Now, they will find out if it was enough.

Santana’s fastball hit 90 miles per hour during a rehab start in Brooklyn last weekend, a benchmark he hadn’t reached in a while. “I think you will see pretty much what you saw early in the season the rest of the year,” Warthen said. “I think we’ll see 87 to 90 miles per hour. I think we’ll see better control. But I think you’re going to see a stronger, probably more consistent high-end velocity guy next year. I don’t think you’re going to see the whole Santana package until next year.”

Maybe this journey in duality will have a much happier ending than the one in Stevenson’s classic did.

NOTE: John had to have emergency surgery on Thursday and will be hospitalized until Sunday. Please wish him a speedy recovery and in the meantime I’ll post here in the interim.

Sep 12

New Chat Room; time for second guessing.

What was written then is coming to pass, the back end of Johan Santana’s contract appears to be choking the Mets. It was widely written, by me and others, that six years is too long a deal for a pitcher who had already accumulated a lot of innings.

Santana’s velocity has been in decline, and now he faces shoulder surgery that ESPN is reporting could keep him out for up to two years. This is a tough surgery with a long and arduous rehab program. It won’t be easy for Santana and there are no guarantees on the back end.

That said, the Mets will likely come to regret the $77 million balance on the contract, but they knew going in that was a strong possibility for the final two years, OK, now it could be three.

The Mets overpaid because both the Red Sox and Yankees backed out, but the circumstances of the times must be realized. The Mets, having lost in 2006 and collapsed in 2007, were in dire need of starting pitching.

The Mets needed an ace and Santana came back to them, and Santana has pitched like the ace he was portrayed to be.

Where the Mets failed or miscalculated is not in signing Santana, but not giving him the adequate run support. Had Santana pitched for the Yankees instead of the Mets, with their superior run support and Mariano Rivera, he might have won a Cy Young or won 20 games.

Santana has more than carried his share of the load since coming here. Injuries are always a risk, but he has more than lived up to his end of the bargain.

To access the New Chat Room, click on to the Chat Room icon to the left. Enjoy Jon Niese as you channel surf to the NFL games.

Aug 24

Mets Chat Room; Dickey hopes to continue surprise season.

One of the few bright spots to another disappointing season goes tonight at Citi Field, where the crowd expects to be slim.

Game #125 vs. Marlins

R.A. Dickey (8-5, 2.41) will be starting for the Mets, but he’ll go against Cy Young candidate Josh Johnson, who is 7-1 lifetime against the Mets.

Also making it tough for Dickey is the Mets’ lackluster offense, which has scored three of fewer runs in 10 of its last 13 games. Once dominant at Citi Field, the Mets have 10 runs to show for in their last seven games here.

With a little support, Dickey could easily have at least 12 wins, which would tie him with Mike Pelfrey for the club lead. Since joining the Mets’ rotation, Dickey has made a quality start in 14 of 18 games. In his last eight starts since the All-Star break he’s pitched to a 1.99 ERA, but the offense is giving him 1.99 runs a game in that span to leave him with a 2-3 record.

In his last start, Dickey gave up a game-tying homer with one out in the ninth inning at Houston in a game the Mets eventually won in 14 innings.

Since Johnson presents a formidable foe, Dickey must be at his best tonight. He is 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA at Citi Field.

Jul 06

Mets Chat Room; A few runs for Johan, maybe?

Game #84 vs. Reds

Do you remember that eight-game winning streak? Well, the Mets are 7-9 since and if they continue their sputtering they could be in danger of giving back the ground they gained.

They’ll give the ball to Johan Santana tonight with the hope of climbing back to ten games over .500.

Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, is 1-3 with a 3.40 ERA in his last seven starts. He’s been given two runs or less in six of them – all games lost by the Mets.

Continue reading

Apr 01

April 1.10: Better late than never.

What the Mets should have done last year they’ll do Opening Day, and that is to honor their past by unveiling a Mets Hall of Fame. Gates open at 10:40 a.m.

“The Mets Hall of Fame & Museum honors the greatest players and greatest events in our history,” said Dave Howard, Executive Vice President, Business Operations, New York Mets, in a statement released by the club. “The museum connects generations of fans to the moments they cherish and reflects our ongoing commitment to celebrate our heritage and history at Citi Field.”

The Hall will feature significant artifacts, interactive exhibits, videos and photographic imagery, recognizing the unforgettable plays and players that are their 48-year history.

The exhibit will include plaques honoring the members of the Mets Hall of Fame, the 1969 and 1986 World Series Championship trophies, and memorabilia on loan from Mets greats, such as Tom Seaver’s 1969 Cy Young Award and Keith Hernandez’s 1987 Gold Glove Award. Also, there will be the Mookie Wilson ball Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

On loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are ball used in the first play at Shea Stadium, Tommie Agee’s glove from the 1969 World Series and the ball Tom Seaver threw to Mike Piazza for the ceremonial first pitch to open Citi Field.

ON A SIDE NOTE: Please read the post from yesterday, Murphy Down, and tell me who you’d rather see at first base until Daniel Murphy is back. Do you want the veteran MIke Jacobs or the prospect Ike Davis?