Watching Johan Santana’s understandably horrific spring training debut yesterday, something dawned in this Mets fans head. No, there is no fear whatsoever that Johan is a different pitcher post-op, in fact, quite the contrary. Based on his velocity and arm slot, I am positive he will have a monster year. The reason I have absolutely no fear that Johan will return to form this season, is the same reason that I really began to fear for the 2010 NY Mets sometime during the third inning of Tuesdays 8-4 loss.
I have no faith in the other four starters behind Johan, and I can’t imagine how anyone inside or outside the Mets dugout feels any differently.
Johan Santana has an impeccable history of performance and dominance; in fact he has already recovered from the same surgery once before, only to earn a CY Young award the following season. Not one other pitcher in the potential starting rotation has even had more than one full successful season.
Yes, Mike Pelfrey has great stuff, was drafted highly, and showed flashes of brilliance in 2008. Yes, John Maine was a top pitching prospect in the Orioles organization and has shown flashes of brilliance in 2007. Oliver Perez has shown nothing but inconsistency at best and Jon Niese has hardly proven a thing at the major league level.
This has been discussed ad nauseam throughout the entire off season, so then why does it seem like we have all been brainwashed into forgetting how marginal our starting pitching really is? Watching Johan get hammered and not worrying whatsoever about his season really brings things things into perspective.
Will anyone feel confident if John Maine gets roughed up in his next start? Will anyone worry if Oliver Perez gives up 5 runs again (even if he is throwing strikes)? What If Mike Pelfrey misses another bullpen session because of his knee?
My point is that we are indeed the underdogs this year. I think some Mets fans are already forgetting this as spring training can sometimes cause all of us to be overly optimistic at times. Front office communication issues aside, the Mets are not a complete team this year. Unless we somehow turn one of our five in-house catchers into a dependable innings eater, 2010 will no doubt be a grueling uphill climb.
The good thing is…. the champagne always tastes sweeter at the end!