Yesterday we learned of the possibility that ailing ace Johan Santana might not be ready for Opening Day. If that is the case, then what are the Mets to do as far as that fifth spot in the rotation? They have next-to-nothing left to spend and lack a bonafide 6th starter. With a rotation in flux even with a healthy Santana, this only makes things worse for the Amazin’s. If Santana is not good to go for 2012, here is what I see as the Mets only options:
Keep Jon Niese: If Santana is not ready, one would have to believe Niese is off the market. At 25 years of age and a devastating curve, he should be a player that is off limits regardless. But now facing another year of their ace on the shelf, Niese needs to be in Flushing for 2012.
Trade Daniel Murphy: I personally would not do this as I see Murphy as an asset to this team, but it is a viable option for Sandy Alderson and the Mets. Odds are they would not get a top-tier pitcher in return for Murph, but someone like Kyle Loshe or Clayton Richard could be a realistic return.
Use Chris Schwinden: After a great year in Triple-A, Schwinden did not exactly dazzle in his September call-up, –going 0-2 with a 4.71 ERA– but should worse come to worse, he could fit nicely as a fifth starter that is both cheap and can be optioned should Santana finally return.
Call-Up Harvey Or Familia: I would hate this move, but if it comes down to this, Harvey and Familia are likely to start the year in Triple-A. So if Schwinden of Pelfrey stumble out of the gate to start 2012, Alderson could give one of them the call to take over. This of course could have damaging effects on their development, but in an emergency situation, the call might have to be made.
With two years and $55 million left, the idea of Santana possibly not being ready for Opening Day is unnerving. Especially after coming back from such a major surgery, I would not expect much from Santana in 2012. These above possibilities may be the Mets only options. Not “sexy” in any way, but it will have to do.