Thanks to MetsBlog linking to me today, I got a bigger range of responses than I expected when I asked “How will Mets fans remember Johan Santana?”
About half of you look at Santana’s Mets career and remember the positives – the no-hitter and the Game #161 start in 2008 being the big ones.
Will in Central NJ wrote: “It is entirely fair that Johan Santana be remembered in a positive light. A plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame is appropriate, in my mind. He threw the first Mets’ no hitter. Period. It would be a paradox for Met fans to have gnashed their teeth for decades because we never had one, and then minimize the deed, and the pitcher, once the deed is accomplished. Injuries happen.”
Brian Berness wrote: “He was a warrior and a great pitcher and you make that trade every day and twice on Sunday.”
A significant number look at Santana and see a huge bust who failed to even come close to living up to his contract.
When the World Series ends, eight current Mets players will officially become free agents, and most won’t return in 2014.
No one will miss Frank Francisco.
Most of us will have a hard time remembering that David Aardsma, Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka ever were Mets this time next year.
LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano and Tim Byrdak will be thought of fondly for a while (Feliciano and Byrdak more so than Hawkins.) However, given the stage they are at in their careers, I would certainly understand if they or the Mets decided to look elsewhere next season.
I don’t know how we’re going to remember Johan Santana.
He’s the guy who pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history, and the guy who did everything he could to keep the Mets in the pennant race in 2008.
He’s also the guy who earned more than $48 million while sitting on the disabled list, during a time when Mets fans watched the team’s payroll shrink during the post-Madoff era.
Santana’s Mets career ends with a 46-34 record, a 3.18 ERA and 15.2 wins above replacement (according to Baseball-Reference.com). Not too shabby, but not what we were hoping for when Omar Minaya traded for him in 2008.
Compare with Al Leiter‘s 7-year Mets career: 95-67, a 3.42 ERA and 28 wins above replacement. When healthy, Santana was a better pitcher, but Leiter managed to stay on the field more.
Will we be honoring Santana with a Mets Hall of Fame induction ceremony in a few years, or remembering him as disappointment if we think of him at all?
That answered what is probably the least important question the team will need to deal with this off-season.
The Wally Backman fans are probably going nuts that their guy is not going to manage the Mets. (But hey, there are already job openings in Washington, Seattle and Chicago… maybe he’ll land one of those, or a spot that’s yet to officially open.)
The pro reporters are talking about what a great job Collins did with the limited talent on his roster, but they’re mainly happy because Collins is a good guy to deal with. Fair enough, but I don’t really care if their jobs are easy or hard.
I’m more interested in the roster. The Mets have an All-Star at third base, and a highly regarded rookie who will get the opportunity to prove he’s a worthy major league catcher.
They’ve got a 24-year-old center fielder who caught everything he could get to and threw out 15 runners on the base paths, but hit just .242 with an OPS of .633 in 121 games. The second baseman had a pretty good year, but will never win a gold glove and had a .319 on base percentage with a .286 batting average. The left fielder led the National League with 46 stolen bases, but hit just .249 (with a .310 on base percentage.)
First base, shortstop and right field may as well be black holes.
With today’s news, it’s looking more and more like Johan Santana‘s appearance in a 6-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on August 17th, 2012 will be his final one in a Mets uniform. That day, Santana gave up all six runs in five innings, including home runs by Bryce Harper and Mike Morse, to earn his fifth consecutive loss.
Santana’s final appearance that we’d like to remember came on June 30th, 2012, when he held a depleted Los Angeles Dodgers lineup to just three hits over eight innings as the Mets won 5-0.
The game that will be part of Mets’ lore for all time cane on June 1st, 2012 – the first no-hitter in franchise history.
But Santana’s biggest victory as a Met almost seems forgotten now. On the next-to-last day of the 2008 season, in what turned out to be the Mets’ final victory at Shea Stadium, Johan pitched a three-hit shutout against the Florida Marlins that kept the Mets’ playoff hopes alive for one more day. Imagine if the 2008 Mets had anything resembling a reliable bullpen…
It turned out that Santana pitched in that game on a bad knee, so who knows how much or how well he might have been able to pitch in the playoffs if the Mets had made it, but I wonder…