It was mid January; it had proved to be a disastrous off-season for the Mets. Following the well documented and highly criticized collapse of September, the teams most prominent need appeared it would again go unaddressed for a second consecutive off-season. Than, the 29th day on the 2008 calendar emerged, and it became a day in which the Mets starting rotation was instantly altered from being their chief enigma to arguably the most stout in all of baseball.
Johan Santana was brought to the Big Apple to be the representative of restoring faith into the bruised and battered ego of the Shea Faithful. Aside from being one of the top two or three hurlers in all of the game, Santana also allows the horrific nightmare that was the 2007 season to be laid to rest before even toeing the rubber in a game.
Etched in stone as the unquestionable ace is Johan, but any real baseball mind knows this. Perhaps the bigger question arises however in the second slot in the starting rotation. Media and casual fans alike are quick to pencil in a seemingly healthy Pedro Martinez for that role. However, after reading over Joel Sherman’s recent piece in the New York Post, I would be hard pressed to argue that John Maine shouldn’t cast behind Santana.
Super Maine is genuinely the organizations second best pitcher. He is going to pitch the second most innings, and likely have the second most wins of any starter in the rotation who doesn’t have a 57 sewn onto his jersey. Sherman really opened my eyes to just how stellar Maine has been in his 2006 debut. Since May 2nd of that season he has a higher winning percentage than Jake Peavy, (.583 to .493) a lower ERA than Tim Hudson, (3.81 to 4.04) and a better batting average against than John Smoltz (.228 to .248).
Certainly, if healthy, Pedro will take his spot as Ace 1-B, but it is debatable as to whether at this juncture in their careers whether or not Maine is indeed more equipped to carry the load. With the inconsistency issues of Oliver Perez, the scheduled trips to the DL for El Duque, and the uncertainty of Mike Pelfrey’s potential, the slot behind Santana becomes much more significant in 2008.