Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Johan now a Met!

The Mets news of late has been minimal, to say the least. I've been bored senseless by the rumors and other speculation done by the so-called experts, and I was starting to think that Johan was going to be a Twin this season.

Until today, at around five o'clock, when the Mets pulled off the biggest trade of my lifetime as a Mets fan (1995--present). The Mets traded Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey for the best pitcher of this decade, Johan Santana. They are on the verge of extending his contract as well (probably in the 6 year, $150 million range), and a press conference has been scheduled for Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium to announce the deal and introduce Santana as the newest Met.

To me, it doesn't even sound possible. I can't wrap my mind around it. The Mets haven't had a true ace since the days of Doc Gooden...a case can be made for Pedro, but we all knew that his best days were behind him when we signed him. This immediately legitimizes the Mets as a threat not just in the NL East but throughout baseball. Peter Gammons said tonight on ESPN that this takes a team that was very, very good to begin with and turns them into one of the favorites to win the World Series in 2008.

Santana, in case the average fan is not all that familiar with him, features a fastball that sits around 93 MPH, a breaking ball that bottoms around the low 80s, and the best circle changeup in the game. He is a dominating force on the mound, to say the least. He's won two Cy Young awards and has been selected to three All-Star teams. He is also a great fielder (won the Gold Glove this year), and is a .258 lifetime hitter. Apparently, Santana is excited about playing in the National League because he loves to hit, and is projected to be one of the best hitting pitchers in the National League.

The prospects the Mets gave up all have or had (in Humber's case) very high ceilings. Humber could end up with the fifth spot in the Twins rotation, but his major league work last year left most scouts disappointed. His curveball, once considered a plus pitch, now lacks the bite that it had before he had Tommy John surgery. His fastball is average, and his other pitches are nothing special. He will probably top out as a third starter on a mediocre team.

Guerra is only 18 (though at 6'5", he's still a menace on the mound) so he's a ways away from contributing. He projects to have a great heater, though some scouts are becoming concerned because he hasn't developed a solid secondary pitch yet. It's too far off to tell with Guerra right now, and he probably won't even sniff the majors until 2010 or later.

Gomez, 22, is extremely fast (some say faster than Reyes) and has a great glove. He's not very capable at the plate yet (he hit .232 in 125 at-bats with the Mets last year) but all of the tools are there for him to excel at hitting. He's got great bat speed and projects to have 20+ home run power. Though, his plate discipline is less-than-stellar, and he will have to work on that diligently if he wants to make it big. Nevertheless, he may be the only one of the group to crack the Twins lineup this year.

Mulvey is a recent draft pick out of Villanova, and posted a 3.32 ERA in AA Binghamton last year. He is also 22, and has a chance to earn the fifth spot in the rotation. He will likely start the season in AAA though, as he has only pitched in one game at the AAA level (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER).

The acquisition of Santana makes the whole rotation better, because it pushes the starters down in the rotation to a more comfortable role for them. Going into 2008, the rotation is projected to be Santana, Pedro, Maine, Perez, El Duque/Mike Pelfrey. It is entirely possible that it could be the best rotation in all of baseball. Johan leads the charge as our ace, and no introduction is needed with him. He flat out dominates. Pedro is a great pitcher but isn't the dominating force he used to be, and is certainly better suited as a #2 starter. Maine had a great year for the Mets last year (although his first half was much better than his second half) but he's still relatively unproven. Don't get me wrong, I love his stuff, and I really love his mental makeup. One more year with a sub 4.00 ERA and I'll be convinced he's for real. Having Maine as a #3 starter is a perfect fit for him, and if he improves on last year, watch out. Perez, who might have the best stuff out of anyone on the team, is very easily rattled and sometimes pitches himself out of games. When he's on, his stuff is absolutely filthy, but if he gets rattled, he walks everyone. He could be a #3 starter for most teams (and a #2 for a few others) but being able to have him as our #4 is a great luxury. The fifth spot will be a battle between El Duque and Mike Pelfrey. El Duque is probably the favorite to win the spot going into the year, but if Pelfrey dazzles in spring training, it's anyone's guess. El Duque could also be utilized out of the bullpen very effectively if he doesn't make the rotation.

I remember where I was on the day I heard about Piazza (on the beach at my camp), Alomar (on my computer at home), Pedro (in front of the TV, watching SportsCenter), and Beltran (same spot as I was for Pedro). I remember my reactions to all of those deals. I can never remember being completely blown away the way I was tonight. This is the type of deal that vaults your franchise to the front of the pack. It makes the wait until Opening Day seem like an eternity. It takes your breath away in a way you can't describe. It makes the season great. 61 days until Johan takes on the Marlins...

I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Holiday season

Hey everyone,

I've been really busy with the holidays and stuff at home, so I haven't had time to post articles. Lucky for me, nothing groundbreaking has happened with the Mets (other than a minor trade for Angel Pagan...a career AAA player who might crack the big-league roster if three outfielders contract mono simultaneously...but only until then). The Johan rumor train has been slowed to a near-halt, but it could pick up again at any moment. I think the baseball community is collectively waiting for the Mitchell report fallout to die down before starting up trade talk again. Many free agent pitchers are still available (Mark Prior signed with the Padres, but Livan, Colon, and several other back-of-the-rotation guys are still out there).

The Mets are going to open their season on March 31st at 4:10 in the afternoon in Florida. This means, of course, that I will be skipping class that day to watch the game (I have a three hour class on Tuesdays from 4-7...not missing the opener for that! Ha!) Hopefully Johan will be starting that game for us, eh?

Have a good one everybody, pitchers and catchers report in just over a month, and the Mets first spring training game is on Feb. 27 at the Tigers in Lakeland, FL. Well, that's not entirely true...they play the University of Miami the day before, but I don't think that will be on or anything.

Go Mets!


Dick"s Sporting Goods
Dicks Sporting Goods