The Future Of Johan Santana
Thursday November 10, 2011
Sam Evans: From 2003-2008, Johan Santana was the best pitcher in baseball. During this time period, he posted a 36.0 WAR, which was higher than any other pitcher. He threw over 1300 innings, won two Cy Young awards, had a 9.37 K/9, and had a total ERA of 2.85. The reason that Johan Santana, 32, isn’t still one of the best pitchers in baseball is simple. Injuries.
Before the 2008 season had begun, Santana was finally traded after eight outstanding and underappreciated years in Minnesota. After acquiring Santana, the New York Mets promptly signed him to a six-year, $137.5 million contract, making him one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball.
Then, the wear and tear of pitching so many innings finally kicked in, Santana had surgery to repair a torn Meniscus in his left knee on October 1,2008. Chances are that Santana had pitched with that injury throughout the year. In 2009, after an impressive 3.13 ERA through 25 starts, Santana had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow. For the second season in a row, the longtime warrior wasn’t able to finish the year on the mound.
2010 was more of the same for Johan. An outstanding season that came to an early close. He had shoulder surgery on September 14 which made him miss not only the rest of the year, but the whole 2011 season as well. There should be nobody questioning Johan’s toughness. Almost every time Santana has been placed on the DL, the team doctors hinted that he had been pitching through the injury for a while.
Not to mention, Santana was taken to court with sexual assault charges in 2010. This might have destroyed part of Santana’s perceived “nice guy” image.
The closest Santana came to pitching in the big leagues in 2011, was five innings of one-run ball for the Mets High-A team. When asked about Santana’s future, the Mets General Manager said this in a statement, “We are optimistic that Johan will be able to begin and maintain a spring training schedule with all other Mets pitchers next February and will be ready for the start of the 2012 season.” If Johan truly can be fully recovered by Spring Training, he surely will be penciled into the Mets rotation.
Johan Santana will make over $20 million over the next two years, and the Mets have a $24.5 Million option for 2014. As for what we can expect from Johan in 2012, no one knows. He could return to the perennial Cy Young candidate that he once was. Or he could become the next pitcher costing his team millions while sitting on the disabled list. However, the most likely outcome is that Johan will throw about 160 innings with an ERA around 4.00. He is getting older but I think that I he can still return to at least a fraction of what he once was, one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
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