Sunday, September 7, 2008

Santana the Savior

All over the media universe on Monday morning, in newspapers and on radio shows, in blogs and on message boards, some variation of the same theme will be shared with baseball fans of all stripes.

This is what the Mets got Johan Santana for.

I'm writing the same thing tonight, but with a twist. The Mets got Santana to be a stopper, to turn the tide against the most frightening storm of the 2008 season - two straight home losses to the Phillies and a third game on national television. A third loss would've meant squandering the three-game cushion the Mets had built on Philadelphia and no doubt would've caused Mets fans to come together on the verge of the collective nervous breakdown.

Not for seven innings and 110 pitches and leave it to the bullpen with a three-run lead. Santana started the eighth inning, just like an ace is supposed to do. But not for 7 1/3 innings and a man on second with one out, so Pedro Feliciano can match up with Ryan Howard and Brian Stokes can take on Pat Burrell.

The New York Mets signed Johan Santana to get those outs on his own, and then to hand the ball over to whoever's closing the door for the team these days.

Feliciano did his job and Stokes did his, so it's hard to argue with the results. And Santana certainly turned in an admirable performance, even if it wasn't quite as long as it needed to be. The end result is that the Mets have a two-game lead in the National League East, the fan base is letting out a sigh of relief and the 2008 postseason remains a distinct possibility.

Earlier in the day, Pedro Martinez silenced any remaining voices who thought it prudent to offer him a contract for the 2009 season. It still pains me to say it (even though I wrote my "Pedro is done" column a few months ago), but Martinez simply isn't good enough to compete for a starting job on a team with championship aspirations. His upside is an average #5 starter who might give his team six good innings on occasion. When he's not on ... well, you saw the results against the Phillies.

The sad performance - 4 innings, 6 runs, 8 baserunners - will surely convince even the most ardent believers that the old Pedro is gone and he's never coming back. I mean, these are the moments that you are supposed to pay experienced veterans for, right? If you can't retire the #8 hitter with 2 outs in the second, a base open and the pitcher on deck, and if you can't keep Greg Dobbs in the park in the fourth, what are you bringing to the table that, say, Glendon Rusch can't?


tim said...

You're splitting short hairs with Santana here. Sure Manuel could have kept him in to face the guy who had already hit him twice for 2 rbis and a lefty/(former) Met killer, but then your post maybe about how history is repeating itself. Instead of playing doubting Thomas, and I know with this bullpen that is extremely difficult, remember that the two previous losses were not the fault of the bullpen. One was to a resurgent ace in Myers, who once carried this Phillies franchise a few years back and the other was due to the aforementioned Petey, who is done like a ton.

You know you're going to lose that Rusch bet, right?

Deb said...

I...uh..... kind of addressed the Pedro Martinez thing on my blog

I wonder if, now that it looks as if Wagner is gone for the rest of the year, how much Pedro will be relied upon in the post-season, if at all. Considering his trouble "getting started," I have to wonder, at this point, whether it's even worth keeping him on the postseason roster. I think a lot will depend on what he does for the remainder of the regular season.

All of that is, of course, if the Mets MAKE the postseason! :)