Does A Healthy Johan Mean The Mets Don’t Need Another Top Starter?

An article by posted on August 23, 2010

I just read a new post from Ted Berg on his blog Ted Quarters. Basically Ted says that he cares more about Johan Santana being right than Santana’s wins and losses.

All I know is that, in a season when the Mets’ wins and losses don’t really matter a hell of a lot anymore, I care a lot more about seeing Santana right, striking out lots of batters and dominating opponents, than I do about his win-loss record. 

Sure, it’d be nice if the Mets could win some more games, but a strong finish for Santana could help convince everyone that landing a No. 1 starting pitcher doesn’t have to be the No. 1 priority this offseason.

I don’t agree entirely with Ted’s take, but I will agree that it’s good to see Johan Santana looking more and more like the pitcher he was before the elbow surgery (although not entirely, at least not yet).

Baseball has always been about wins and losses, and if Johan is being out-dueled or coming out on the short end of too many 2-1  and 1-0 games, blaming the offense is the simplistic way of looking at it.

But another way of looking at it is that Johan is normally facing off against another team’s ace who just happened to do a better job of shutting down a team than Johan did. Sometimes you just have to pitch a little bit better than the other team’s ace to nail down a win for your team. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other pitcher, to borrow a phrase from Rod Darling.

As for K/9 and K/BB rates, all those fancy pitching stats and metrics look great on paper and are fantastic for putting together a solid fantasy baseball team. A team’s wins and losses don’t matter in fantasy baseball, but wins and losses are the end-all in real baseball. It would have been nice to see Johan actually beat Roy Halladay, or Josh Johnson, or C.C. Sabathia, or Tim Hudson, or Yovani Gallardo. There’s no shame in any team’s offense being shut down by those guys – Mets included. 

As for not making a top of the rotation starter a top priority in the offseason, bad idea. Very bad idea. Terrible idea.

Lets not fall into the same trap that has clouded the judgment of many Mets fans for almost five years now.

We needed another top of the rotation starter to pair with Tom Glavine in 2007.

We needed a top of the rotation starter to pair with Johan Santana even more in 2008 if only to put the epic collapse of ’07 behind us. To believe that Oliver Perez or John Maine were those guys was a colossal blunder.

We still needed a top of the rotation starter to pair with Johan Santana in 2009. The notion that Mike Pelfrey was “that” guy was absolutely flawed and delusional thinking.

We desperately needed a top of the rotation starter in 2010 because 4/5 of the rotation was coming back from offseason surgeries or huge step backwards. Even Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya admitted as much in November of ’09, but that now appeared to be a ploy to sell more season ticket packages.

So what’s the prevailing theory now? That Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey will somehow be top of the rotation starters in 2011? Really?

Johan Santana will be 32 years old next Opening Day and will have logged 200 more  innings on that twice operated on left elbow. To quote Detective Harry Callahan, “You feelin’ lucky, punk?”

It’s too premature to believe that Jon Niese will be a top of the rotation starter in 2011. That king of wishful thinking is what got the Mets in trouble in past years.

Mike Pelfrey may never be consistent enough to be anything more than a 3-4 type starter. His stuff is simply not overpowering enough and when he tries to be a fastball pitcher, he’s at his worst.

With the rest of the competition in the NL East getting stronger and better, how can you even consider the notion that the Mets stand pat again this offseason rather than bolstering the rotation with a solid starter?

Sorry, but that just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Like all Mets fans, I’m glad that Johan Santana is getting his groove back, but even when Johan was on top of his game, the Mets still needed another starter to pair with him. So what’s changed?

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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