Wednesday, January 30, 2008
So the Twins sent Santana to the Mets: after all of the talk about the Red Sox and Yankees it ought not to have surprised us that the lower profile Mets would swing in under the radar and scoop up Santana. On paper the deal is a masterstroke: after trying to contend with a largely unknown pitching staff (John Maine, Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez) the Mets have added one of the best pitchers in baseball to go along with Pedro Martinez, who missed nearly all of 2007. On paper, the Mets rotation looks pretty good now: Pedro and Santana to go along with Maine, who was a surprising 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA, and Perez, who was 15-10 with a 3.56 ERA. If Maine and Perez duplicate their ’07 performances, and if Pedro regains his pre-2006 form, and if Santana continues to pitch at a high level … well, suddenly the Mets spotty rotation looks pretty good. Perhaps the best in the division, ahead of the Phillies and the Tim Hudson / John Smoltz-led Atlanta Braves.
The best part of the deal is that the Mets didn’t surrender any killer prospects to make this happen. After talking about Philip Hughes and Jake Ellsbury, the Twins didn’t get any sure-fire major leaguers out of the deal. This looks like a major blunder on the part of the Twins leadership. Ouch.
So is this a guaranteed win for the Mets? Well, Santana did see his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) ERA rise from 3.02 in ’04, 2.80 in ’05, and 3.15 in ’06 to 3.96 in ’07. Looking inside of the numbers there was precious little change in Santana’s strikeouts and walks allowed – in fact they’ve been remarkably consistent over the years:
2004: 11.7 / 2.4
2005: 10.0 / 1.9
2006: 10.2 / 2.0
2007: 10.3 / 2.3
The change in Santana’s numbers stem from the fact that he allowed a few more home runs – 33, as opposed to 24, 22 and 24 between ’04 and ’06 – in 2007 than he had in the past. I consider that to be a fluke, although this perhaps might suggest that he’ll surrender a few dingers in the one or two starts he makes at Citizens in 2008.
This is disastrous news for the Phillies: they suddenly have the third-best pitching staff in the N.L. East and made no major splashes this off-season. The Mets added Santana (and Pedro, for all intent and purpose), and the Braves added Glavine. What are the Phillies hoping? That Travis Blackley will supplant Adam Eaton as the #5 starter? Suddenly, after the joys of last season, a third-place finish seems likely.
Although … you also have to look at the fact that there is enormous pressure on the Mets. If Pedro collapses – he is getting older – and if Maine and Perez regress to average, and if Santana struggles … suddenly the Mets look beatable. And you have to wonder if heads will roll in Queens if the Mets fail to make the playoffs again.
Alright, a little on Pedro Feliz tomorrow.
Great Blog by the way