Johan Santana

Highlighting Terry Collins’ Poor First Half

With homefield advantage on the line and the Mets in playoff position, Terry Collins managed the All Star Game like seemingly every other manager has previously managed the All Star Game.  He put more of a premium on getting all the players in the game than winning the game.  Well, everyone except his own players Jeurys Familia and Bartolo Colon.  Other than the Mets players apparently being upset at this, it is hard to criticize Collins for how he managed the All Star Game.  Still, there are many managerial decisions Collins has made in the first half of the season that invite scrutiny.

First and foremost, there is the way he handled Michael Conforto.  First, he didn’t let him get any time playing right field in Spring Training.  The end result of that was Collins putting Juan Lagares in right and Yoenis Cespedes in center on days that Curtis Granderson was given the day off.  There really is no excuse for putting Lagares, possibly the defensive center fielder in the game, anywhere but center.

The other mistake is not letting Conforto hit against lefties until Madison Bumgarner took the mound.  Collins was hampering his development by doing that.  At the end of the day, this is the Mets best position player prospect, and in many ways, he was the second best hitter on the team.  Collins was willing to sacrifice all that to get Lagares’ bat in the lineup instead of sitting an older Granderson who had the very platoon splits that worried Collins.  By the way, Granderson is also 35 years old and could use the occasional day or two off.  Conforto’s season began to fall apart, and he needed to be sent down to AAA.  By the way, Collins is making the same mistake with Brandon Nimmo.  However, it’s even worse with Nimmo as he’s doing it to get Alejandro De Aza‘s bat in the lineup.

While on the topic of developing players, Kevin Plawecki has faltered for yet another season under Collins’ tutelage.  Last year, there were a number of excuses why Plawecki didn’t succeed from his being rushed to the majors to his sinus issues.  This year, he had no such excuses, and he still didn’t produce.  While Plawecki deserves a large amount of the blame, Collins certainly deserves some of it, especially when his position with Conforto is that he is not here to help players develop as major leaguers when the Mets have a win-now team.

Another major issue this year was Collins’ handing of Jim Henderson.  Henderson was a feel good story that turned into a potential nightmare.  The day after Henderson threw a career high 34 pitches, which is puzzling in its own right, Collins used Henderson to pitch in the very next game.  He did it despite knowing that Henderson needed to be handled lightly due to his having two shoulder surgeries.  He did it even after watching what happened with Johan Santana.  Collins knew all of this, and yet he used Henderson in that spot as he said an April 13th game, the eighth game of the season, was deemed to be a must win game.  Henderson’s production fell off after that, and now he is on the disabled list.

There was also his handling of Noah Syndergaard.  Last year, the Mets wanted to initiate a six man rotation to alleviate some of the early innings Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom pitched early in the season.  The idea was to both keep them healthy and keep them fresh for the length of the season.  To be fair, Collins use of Syndergaard in any one particular start has not been egregious.  However, it was curious how he shoehorned Syndergaard into a relief appearance after Syndergaard was ejected throwing at Chase Utley.  The Mets had an opportunity to rest their ace until his next start.  Instead, Syndergaard got the adrenaline going and was ramped up in a relief appearance on his throw day.  By the way, in Syndergaard’s last start his fastball velocity dropped to 91 MPH, and he left the game with a dead arm.

Speaking of how he is handling pitching, it is amazing that Collins took part in talking Steven Matz out of opting for season ending surgery to address the bone spurs in his elbow that has clearly hampered his pitching.  Not only was Collins willing to risk Matz suffering a more severe injury, he’s also willing to put a limited pitcher on the mound every fifth day.  Keep in mind that since the bone spurs became an issue, Matz has been 0-3 with a 5.05 ERA and a 1.430 WHIP.  His slider usage has dropped from 13% to 3% of the time.  It’s always troubling when a manager doesn’t protect his players.  It’s even worse when he doesn’t protect the young injured ones.

There is also the curious drop in production this team has had since May 1st.  Here’s how some of the Mets best hitters have fared since that point:

April Since
Curtis Granderson .241/.347/.471 .238/.335/.453
Neil Walker .307/.337/.625 .232/.318/.345
Asdrubal Cabrera .300/.364/.400 .249/.305/.435
Michael Conforto .365/.442/.676 .148/.217/.303

Now, there are many factors to this including some of these players getting nicked up a bit.  There’s something to be sad for the natural ebbs and flows of a season as well.  There should be some note about the injuries to the players surrounding them.  However, with all that said, these players have had a significant drop off in production under Collins’ watch.  Whether it was helping them make adjustments and finding days for them to get the rest they needed, Collins didn’t do that as their manager.

There have been other issues dealing with Collins in-game management that could be highlighted as well.  To be fair and balanced, it should be pointed out that Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, Matt Reynolds, and Rene Rivera have played far more games than the Mets ever wanted or expected them to play.  It’s hard to expect a manager to win under those circumstances.  It should also be noted that there were significant injuries to David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Matt Harvey which have further weakened the Mets.

Through all of that, Collins still has the Mets in a position to make the postseason.  If he makes better decisions, and the Mets begin playing better, they should be in the postseason, and with that pitching staff, they still have a legitimate chance to return to the World Series.

About this Mets Offense . . .

The Mets walked 13 times . . . THIRTEEN . . . and only scored one run in a 13 inning game they lost 2-1. 

The Mets once again trotted out an ugly lineup reminiscent of July 2015. David Wright is still unavailable with the neck injection, so Terry Collins decided to go with Ty Kelly over Wilmer Flores. Yoenis Cespedes was out of the lineup as he informed Terry Collins he needed a day off. It was an ugly lineup reminiscent of a July 2015 lineup. It doesn’t help that Michael Conforto is still struggling. With today’s 0-6 with the golden sombrero, Conforto is now one for his last 21. With that said, the Mets had to win the 2015 way. They needed deGrom to be dominant. He was, but it wasn’t enough. 

Jacob deGrom‘s velocity continued to tick up a bit with him getting it back up to the 95  MPH range on occasion.  He had a season high 10 strikeouts.  He had allowed only three hits and no runs over six, and he was at 92 pitches, and due up to lead off in the seventh inning.  Terry Collins let him go back out there.

For the second day in a row, Todd Frazier hit a homerun.  He tied the score at 1-1.

That matched the Mets offensive output. James Loney got a second inning rally started by walking. He moved to second on a Juan Lagares sacrifice bunt (really looked more like a bunt for a base hit, but that’s official scoring for you).  Rene Rivera then came up and hit a one out RBI single to make the score 1-0.  It was the first time Loney reached base and scored a run as a Met.  

The Mets tore through their bullpen, including but not limited to, an injury to Hansel Robles. Logan Verrett came in, and he eventually gave up the winning run in the 13th in a rally started by a double hit by Matt Albers, an American League relief pitcher. 

It was a bad loss capping off a poor 2-4 home stand. The Mets bench is inexcusably bad even with the injuries. The Mets need to make some moves. 

Game Notes: Don Draper took his hatred of the Mets to the next level by sending Roger out there to interfere with Melky Cabrera resulting in interference being called costing Loney a chance at bat. It is the four year anniversary of Johan Santana’s no-hitter. 

Tipping the Limo Driver for Score Updates

Six years ago to the day, I woke up with a bundle of nerves. The Mets were under .500, and they were sending Jon Niese to the mound against the Braves. Niese has never instilled any Mets fan with confidence.  

Initially, I had high hopes for this team.  After 2009, they were more comfortable in Citi Field and knew how to play there. Jose Reyes and David Wright were in their prime. Carlos Beltran had a full offseason to rest up, get healthy, and return to his dominant form.  I thought Ike Davis would get a call-up and be a legitimate middle of the order power threat. I thought Jason Bay would succeed with the Mets after playing so well for the Red Sox. The team had an ace in Johan Santana and an emerging pitcher in Mike Pelfrey. K-Rod was the closer, and promising young rookie Jenrry Mejia was going to be his set-up man.  There was a lot to like. 

Those feelings of optimism faded away early in the season. They lost seven of their first 10 games. Jerry Manuel was the manager, and he was managing like it. The team was barely able to score runs against the Cardinals’ position players in a 20 inning game. The Mets were under .500. Worse yet, they had to face Larry Jones – err, Chipper – and the Braves. The Mets countered with the enigmatic Niese against a player and team that killed the Mets. It’s enough to make any Mets’ fans stomach turn. 

By the way, it was also my wedding day. 

Yes, my wedding day. That one I knew I got right. I was marrying the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met (still is), and she had no clue she was way too good for me (still is). Honestly, I was not nervous at all about marrying her. I was only nervous about the logistics of the day. I was nervous about missing the Mets game. Priorities. 

I made sure I was ready well in advance so I could watch the game from first pitch. I caught the first couple of innings at home before getting in the limousine and heading to the Church. As we got to the Church, it was still 0-0. Now, as a superstitious sort, I knew I couldn’t hang around in the limo listening to the game because I couldn’t risk seeing my then fiancée in her dress before she entered the Church. Accordingly, I tipped the driver a couple of bucks to funnel me score updates until the game was over. 

Last thing I knew as a single man, the Mets were losing 1-0 to the Braves. Sounds about right. After seeing my wife head up the aisle, I forgot all about the Mets. I was excited to marry the best person I’ve ever known. 

Once the mass was over, we had the proceeding line. All my wife could do was laugh when the limo driver came over to give me the score. The Mets won 3-1. She knew what she was getting into marrying me. I put the Mets out of mind, did our wedding photos, and then had the greatest wedding reception ever. 

By the way, my wife nixed the idea of having Mr. Met serve as the maitre d’. It wasn’t my idea (although I fully supported it). Some of the ushers started a collection, but it quickly died down when my wife caught wind of it. Speaking of the ushers, I did win the pool because I didn’t cry during the mass. First round of drinks in Hawaii were on them. 

After my wife and I got married, the Mets went on a winning streak and took over first place. I had no idea because I was on my honeymoon (although we did fly Jet Blue so I could watch the Mets and Braves play the Sunday Night Game).  

During my honeymoon, I paid no attention to the Mets. Spending time with her then (as it is now) will always be more important. I just enjoyed each and every moment of being married to my beautiful wife. I still do. Marrying my wife was the best decision I ever made. 

Happy Anniversary honey. 

Henderson Pitching Shows Collins Learned Nothing from Santana

After Johan Santana threw 134 pitches on a surgery repaired shoulder to throw the first no-hitter in Mets history, Terry Collins was in tears. He seemed distraught. In the post-game press conference, Collins called Santana his “Hero,” and he was prescient in saying:

I’m very excited for him, but in five days, if his arm is bothering him, I’m not going to feel good. 

As we know, even though Santana would make 10 more starts, his career effectively ended that night. He would need another shoulder surgery in the offseason. Between that surgery and other injuries, Santana has never pitched in another big league game. 

When Collins was interviewed by Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated three years later, Collins expressed his remorse. He would say, “It was without a doubt, the worst night I’ve ever spent in baseball.”  Now, no one really knows what effect this game had on the need for Santana to have a second surgery. However, for his part, Collins thinks the no-hitter had a lot to do with it:

I was aware of what the wear and tear of that night could do to him, and basically, the worst-case scenario happened. To throw that amount of pitches with that much pressure and that much adrenaline going, it can beat you down. And it did. 

If Collins truly believes that, it makes what he did with Jim Henderson all the more indefensible. 

Henderson has come a long way to get here.  He’s had two shoulder surgeries himself. He fought against all odds to make the Mets Opening Day roster.  Not only did he make the roster, he quickly established himself as a very important part of the Mets bullpen. 

So far this year, Henderson has pitched in five of the eight games the Mets have played. On Tuesday, he threw 34 pitches, which was the most he’s ever thrown in one game. Wednesday was a day game. The Mets added Rafael Montero to the roster so the Mets would have a full bullpen for the game. With the score tied 0-0 in the seventh inning, Collins put Henderson in the game. 

Before Wednesday’s game, Henderson’s fastball averaged 95 MPH. On Wednesday, he was sitting around 89 MPH. He allowed a single and two hits before Collins pulled him from a game he shouldn’t have entered in the first place. Collins excuse?

It’s difficult to believe that Collins used this as a justification.  He says he is troubled by Santana’s no-hitter, and he thinks it had a profound impact on effectively ending his career.  Why would he willingly do the same thing again with another player?  Why would he go to Henderson when there were other, fresher options?  It doesn’t make sense.

It should be noted that Collins had a different tone in Wednesday’s press conference than Santana’s. Collins was fired up. There was no hint of him fearing for Henderson’s future. 

Collins thought this was a must-win game, but it’s a stretch to believe he would sacrifice a player’s health for it.  Collins said he was desperate, but there has to be a line. Collins might’ve wanted to respond to people questioning the Mets effort, but putting a player’s health and career in doubt, you prove nothing. 

At the end of the day, Terry Collins has shown he has learned nothing.  While we all understood him leaving Santana in, there was no excuse for pitching Henderson there. Collins could’ve ended someone’s career for what really was just another April game. Overall, Mike Vaccarro put it best when he chastised Collins:

Collins has had some nice moments as the manager of the Mets. Wednesday wasn’t one of them.  Collins once called Santana’s no-hitter the worst night of his baseball life. Wednesday could’ve been the worst day of Henderson’s professional life, but Collins showed no remorse. Collins may be haunted by Santana’s no-hitter, but he has clearly showed he’s learned nothing from it. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

Matz Was Glavinesque

The Mets sent out Steven Matz, who is the proverbial fourth member of what had been touted as the Big Four. Mets fans all hope each of these pitchers will be future Hall of Famers. Tonight, Matz did a pretty good impersonation of Tom Glavine

Like Glavine, Matz allowed seven runs to the Marlins. At least Matz lasted a little longer. Matz’s final line was 1.2 innings, six hits, seven earned, two walks, and one strikeout. Before the game, Matz was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA. This year, he’s 0-1 with a 37.80 ERA. 

In the fateful second inning, seemingly every Marlin got a hit including Barry Bonds and Don Mattingly got hits. Of course, Giancarlo Stanton provided the exclamation point:

It needs to be constantly reiterated, but Bonds seems to be having a very real impact on this Marlins team. Six of their eight regulars are hitting over .300. They had no problem hitting Matz. This is a young Marlins club with a lot of offensive talent. If they realize that potential, it’s a definitive blow to the Mets chances to return to the postseason . . . especially with how this club plays the Marlins. 

As for the Mets, their bullpen did a yeoman’s job. Hansel Robles pitched 2.1 innings allowing four hits, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts. Antonio Bastardo pitched 1.1 innings allowing four hits, two runs, one walk, and two strikeouts. Addison Reed pitched 1.2 innings with no hits, no runs, and four strikeouts. Jeurys Familia was pressed into action even though he has the flu. Jerry Blevins pitched the ninth. The night was such a disaster that Blevins finally allowed a hit in his Mets career. It was an infield single to Dee Gordon with two outs in the ninth. 

The Mets might’ve avoided burning through their entire bullpen like that if they would’ve just put Jacob deGrom on the DLSean Gilmartin, who was very effective as the long man last year, could’ve soaked up some of those innings. It would’ve been all the more imperative with Logan Verrett going on Wednesday. 

Offensively?  Well the Mets had seven hits and three runs. All of the runs came after the game was over. Two of those hits were from David Wright, who despite his career being declared over, has been the Mets best offensive player so far this year. He’s hitting .333 with a .478 OBP. Perhaps that’s the reason why the man with the bad back played all nine innings in a 10-3 blowout. 

All kidding aside, the Mets decision making in this young season has been perplexing. Terry Collins bats three lefties bunched up together every day (with his splits, Neil Walker is effectively a left handed hitter). Jim Henderson leads the Mets in appearances despite not having pitched in two years and coming off a second shoulder surgery. Remember that next time Collins gets emotional over Johan Santana. At least Collins isn’t to blame for the team’s mismanagement of the deGrom/bullpen situation. 

With all that said, this is a game the Mets should just forget about. It’s another game to forget in what has been a mostly forgettable start to the season. Fortunately, momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, and Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to pitch tomorrow. So, in that sense, the Mets have some momentum going. 

Did Collins or Roberts Make the Right Decision?

On June 1, 2012, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history with a surgically repaired shoulder. 

The shoulder injury cost Santana the entire 2011 season, and the Mets wanted to be cautious with their ace in 2012. He was in the middle of a six year $137.5 million contract. The Mets certainly wanted to see Santana pitch effectively to the end of the contract. Accordingly on that rainy June night, Santana was supposed to be limited to 110 – 115 pitches. Santana threw his 115th pitch with two outs in the eighth inning. 

Terry Collins checked with Santana each step of the way. Santana was not going to let Collins pull him from the game. Santana fought hard to reach this point and getting this no-hitter was his reward. Finally, on his 134th pitch, Santana became the first ever Met to throw a no-hitter. Instead of jubilation, Collins openly wept in the post game press conference. He admitted he kept thinking about what effect this could have on Santana’s career. He said, “It was without a doubt, the worst night I’ve ever spent in baseball.”

After that fateful night, Santana would made 10 more starts. He went 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA. Batters hit .327/.377/.587 against him. He averaged just under five innings per start. He was shut down in August. He needed a second shoulder surgery in the offseason. He hasn’t thrown another pitch in the majors since then. His career effectively ended one glorious rainy night when he was 33 years old. 

Looking back at the moment five years later, Santana still has no regrets

Last night, in his fifth ever game as a manager, Dave Roberts was in the same position Collins was almost six years ago. Ross Stripling was looking to become the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first ever start since 1892 when Bumpus Jones did it. 

Unlike Jones, Stripling has had Tommy John surgery. This was only his 15th start since the surgery, and the first one this season. Heading into the start, it was determined he would be limited to 100 pitches. He reached the hundredth pitch with one out in the eight inning. He was five outs from history. Dave Roberts came out of the dugout and pulled Striplng from the game. Roberts decided Stripling’s future was worth more than just this one game:

The San Francisco crowd booed. People watching the game on television were in disbelief. Many felt it was karma that the Dodgers lost the no-hitter and the lead when the very next batter homered. About the only person on the planet who agreed with Dave Roberts was Ross Stripling:

It begs the question – who made the right decision?  Collins or Roberts?

Fact is, we’ll never know. If Collins lifts Santana after his 115th pitch, he may still have needed shoulder surgery. If Stripling threw 134 or more pitches last night, he may have felt no ill effects. He might’ve had a long and healthy career. With that said, there could be room for both Collins and Roberts to have been right in the decisions they made. 

Collins let a player who fought so hard to get to this point have his moment of glory. Roberts might’ve robbed a young player of his moment, but he also might’ve made a decision that could allow Stripling to pitch 10 plus years in the majors. 

Admittedly, I wanted Stripling to continue pitching. I wanted to see history be made. However, I will not say I was shocked at the decision. For better or worse, this is the culture of baseball. Everyone pays more attention to pitch counts. Pitch counts are around because organizations look for ways to prevent pitcher injuries. Pitch counts are a part of the game.  

Keep in mind, if you ask any Mets fans how many pitches Santana threw in his no-hitter, they will answer 134 without hesitation. They will do it much in the same way Dodger fans will forever know Stripling threw 100 pitches in his first ever start. 

Enjoy the 2016 Season

I haven’t been this excited for a Mets season since 2008. The Mets might’ve collapsed in 2007, but that was due to injuries and poor starting pitching. The Mets cured that by trading for Johan Santana

It was also the last season at Shea Stadium. It was a year to re-live all the memories from my 25 years of going to Mets games there. As Sunday Plan ticket holders, my brother, father, and I were guaranteed the opportunity to be there for the last regular season game played at Shea. Not until Jerry Manuel summoned Scott Schoeneweis from the bullpen did I think it would be the last ever game played at Shea. It was a second collapse, and a brutal way to end the season. 

Looking back on the 2008 season, I never really enjoyed it. Part of it was the hangover from 2007. Part of it was the slow start to the season. Part of it was the embarrassing way the Mets fired Willie Randolph. It was just a frustrating year. 

Here’s the thing. The Mets won 89 games that year making them 16 games over .500. That means the Mets season was full of more good days than bad. When that happens, it’s a pretty good year. It’s a good year even if your team falls short of its World Series aspirations. It’s a shame in a year that the Mets won a lot of games, including Santana’s gem on the penultimate game of the season, is mostly known for misery. 

Entering the 2016 season, the Mets are once again seen as World Series favorites. Unlike 2008, I’m going to try to enjoy each and ever minute of it. 

No, it won’t be as fun as the second half of last year. That came out of nowhere. It’s always more fun the first time a group of players win. It’s more fun when you don’t see it coming. However, it doesn’t mean that a season in which your team is amongst the World Series favorites can’t be fun. 

Overall, the Mets should win more games than they lose. That means there will be more good days than bad days. I hope to not take the losses as hard while taking more enjoyment in the wins. 

So starting with Curtis Granderson digging into the batter’s box, I’m going to enjoy each and every moment. This season should be a special one. The Mets should be in the postseason, and as we saw last year, their pitching can carry them to the World Series. 

Lets Go Mets! 

Right about Santana, Wrong about Milledge

Today is the eighth anniversary of the Johan Santana trade. Over his tenure with the Mets, Santana pitched well to brilliantly when he was able to pitch.

Santana tried to will the Mets into the postseason in 2008. He pitched on three days rest on a bum knee and gave the Mets a brilliant outing, a complete game, three hit, nine strikeout, shut out. It would be the Mets last win at Shea Stadium. It would be his last great season, but not his last great moment. On June 1, 2012, he threw a 134 pitch no-hitter on a surgically repaired shoulder. The first in Mets history. It was effectively the end of his career. 

The cost for all of this?  Basically, it was Carlos Gomez. Yes, the same one. It’s interesting that it was Gomez because he wasn’t what the Twins initially wanted. They wanted  Lastings Milledge.

At that time everyone wanted Milledge. The A’s wanted Milledge in exchange for Barry Zito. The Mets balked in 2006. They balked despite Pedro Martinez‘s injury problems. The Mets thought that highly of Milledge that they were willing to let him possibly stand in the way of a World Series title. He was considered that good. Except, unfortunately, he really wasn’t that good. His stock would go down to the point where he could only fetch Brian Schneider and Ryan Church. That’s a far cry from Barry Zito and Johan Santana. 

The lesson here isn’t necessarily that you should always trade prospects. If that’s the case, the Mets wouldn’t have David Wright. No, the lesson is to make sure you are right before trading prospects. 

The Mets were wrong about Gomez and Milledge. Most were. Now, Milledge is playing in Japan. Gomez is a two-time All Star. He’s a Gold Glove centerfielder. There are different times the Mets could’ve used him either as an outfielder (possibly avoiding the disastrous Jason Bay signing), or used him as a trade chip. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there because the Mets held onto the wrong prospect. 

There are many lessons to learn with Santana, namely about abusing pitcher’s arms. The other lesson is that teams have to be right about their own prospects. By holding onto Milledge, the Mets might’ve lost out on a World Series in 2006. By being wrong about Milledge, the Mets lost out on Gomez’s career. 

So whenever the Mets trade a prospect, we should look not just at the return, but also who they didn’t trade. As we saw with the Santana deal, you can still win a trade while still losing out on something else. 

Historically Zobrist Goes Elsewhere

This isn’t a criticism of Sandy Alderson and his staff. This isn’t an issue of this front office being stingy or refusing to go the extra mile to get the player. It’s just that historically the Mets typically do not outbid teams when it comes to the big free agent. 

That’s not to say the Mets don’t sign free agents. Obviously, they do. They’ve also overspent and spent big money on some free agents. It’s just that they don’t typically win bidding wars. They especially don’t do so when a big market team is also bidding on the same player. My personal feelings aside, I just don’t see how the Mets outbid everyone for Ben Zobrist. Here are the instances where the Wilpon led Mets outbid everyone for a high priced player:

Jason Bay

In 2009, the Mets signed Jason Bay. In some ways it could be interpreted as the Mets won a bidding war and in others it could be seen as the Red Sox moved on to other players
Fact is the Red Sox essentially had a four year $60 million contract offer, which may or may not have been pulled due to medical concerns. You can never fully trust Boston’s statements when a player leaves. The fact is the Mets had to offer $6 million extra to bring Bay to New York. The fact also remains the Mets went after Bay instead of going after the much better and much more expensive Matt Holliday

This isn’t about how Bay fared with the Mets as no one could have reasonable predicted what happened next. This is about the Mets outbidding the Red Sox for a player only after deciding to not even get involved in the bidding for the more expensive, better player. 

Carlos Beltran

The Carlos Beltran story is an interesting one. Like Bay, it was also a move made under the Omar Minaya regime. 

What’s most interesting about this was the Yankees never got involved in the bidding despite Beltran all but begging them to offer him a contract. Furthermore, the Astros had a limited window to negotiate with Beltran. Under the old free agency rules, the Astros only had until January 7th to re-sign him. If they didn’t, they were barred from re-signing him until May 1st. 

The Mets went above and beyond then in Minaya’s first year as GM. The Mets signed Beltran to a then whopping seven year $119 million contract. It was a real power move that the Mets haven’t typically been the Mets strength. There was one other move in 2005 that was uncharacteristic. 

Pedro Martinez

Like Bay, the Mets were able to outbid the Red Sox for Pedro Martinez because the Red Sox drew a line in the sand in a player they knew/suspected had questionable medicals. Unlike Bay, the Mets clearly outbid the Red Sox. 

The Red Sox thought they had Pedro re-signed giving him the extra year he wanted. The Mets just gave that extra year and money no one thought Pedro could/should get. Like Beltran, this was part of Minaya’s reshaping of the Mets. It’s truly interesting the major deals happened in 2005 when Minaya took over the team. In some ways, it makes you question how much the Madoff Ponzi fallout affected the Mets. 

Yes, it clearly limited payroll. However, after 2005, the Mets never truly went the extra mile in seeking to acquire the top free agent on the market. They were initially rebuffed by Carlos Delgado (until he was later obtained via trade). They did give a huge contract to Johan Santana in the wake of the 2007 collapse. However, that was part of a trade and not part of a free agent bidding process. 

So while the Mets have at times spent money pre-Madoff, it appears the team does not usually win these free agent bidding contests. Additionally, after 2005, the team has typicall backed off the top free agent on the market that would/could fulfill a need like Jason Heyward

In any event, it appears if history repeats itself here, the Mets will not get Zobrist. This may or may not be due to the budget. It may due more to an organizational philosophy that was in place before Sandy Alderson ever became the GM. 

Mets Owe Johan a Shot

Despite last pitching for the Mets in 2012, Johan Santana is still trying to make a comeback. God bless him. 

Santana missed the entire 2011 season after shoulder surgery on his left arm to repair a torn anterior capsule. He came back in 2012, and he pitched well. Then on one magic night, This happened:

It’s a night that still haunts Terry Collins. He let a pitcher coming back from shoulder surgery throw 134 pitches. Collins was noticeably upset in his post game press conference. He feared what ended up happening. Santana’s career effectively ended that day. 

Santana would have a re-tear in the capsule requiring further surgery. He would miss the entire 2013 season, his last with the Mets. He tore his Achilles’ tendon while rehabbing the shoulder surgery costing him the 2014 season. Last year, he had a toe infection which prevented his latest comeback. He now wants another chance. 

The Mets can afford to give it to him. They are looking for lefties in the bullpen. All Santana will require is a minor league deal for the minimum with an invitation to Spring Training. Worst case scenario is he doesn’t have it, and you cut him. No harm, no foul. But if there is something, anything there, you could have a good reliever. A reliever who can handle New York, and who can be a mentor to the entire pitching staff.

The other reason to give it to him is the Mets owe him. It sounds funny because the Mets paid him $137.5 million. However, they pushed him to the limit in 2008 trying to make the playoffs. They pushed him past the limit to get the elusive no-hitter. We don’t know if these events lead to the shoulder surgeries. What we do know is Johan gave the Mets all he had. 

With Johan giving the Mets all he could, the Mets should at least offer him the least they could. If he doesn’t have it, it’s better coming from a friend that respects him and can thank him for his play with the Mets. If he does have it, Johan can go out on his own, and the Mets can strengthen their team. 

The Mets should bring back Johan.