What are we to make of the Mets’ decision today to push back Johan Santana at least two weeks with the specific purpose of building up arm strength?
With the exception of his first season with the Mets, Santana has not pitched a full year for his $137.5 million package. Last season ended with lower back inflammation and prevented him from having a normal offseason workout program. That’s why his arm isn’t as strong as it normally would be this time of spring.
My first reaction, of course, is a red flag, that this is a sign of things to come. When it comes to pitcher’s health, always bet the worst. Sure, that’s a pessimistic attitude, but that’s the way it usually works out – especially with the Mets.
The Mets are acting on the side of caution, which is the right tact. The Mets are going to pay Santana $31 million this year whether he pitches 200 innings or two. Really, their only option is caution as that’s the only way they’ll get anything out of him.
The Mets don’t know when Santana will be full strength, and if his status lingers I would not hesitate holding him back at the start of the season. It might be a prudent choice given the cold weather in April and Santana’s health issues to hold him back a couple of weeks.
This way, Santana can progress at his rate and not worry about rushing to get ready. This guy will pitch hurting, but does anybody really want that?