By Joyce Mandelkern
I have spent a good part of today defending Johan Santana. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending giving up a grand slam to an American League pitcher. I tried talking myself through that last night. It didn't work. I'm defending that I'm happy he is a New York Met.
I realize that a great part of what we judge players on is the salary they command. It is easy for me to dismiss that criteria, since it is not my money. But I have to do that, because baseball's salary structure is entirely out of whack. So yes, he earns an enormous amount of money, which unfortunately is no guarantee of superior or extraordinary performance. Therefore, for the sake of this argument, I'm going to throw the money factor out the window for the moment.
Here is what it comes down to for me. I would rather have Johan Santana on the mound for the Mets than pitching for the Phillies, the Braves, or the Yankees. I would certainly rather have Santana on the mound for the Mets, than have, let's say, Tom Glavine pitching for us. If we are lucky enough to get to the post season, anytime in the near future, do you want him pitching for us or against us? I fail to see how having Santana does not make our team better and our pitching staff better. Lefty aces are hard to come by. And we have one!! We should be counting our blessings, not booing him off the mound. Great isn't always easy, very good is a major step up for us. Bottom line for me is, he is doing his job very well, not perfectly. But tell me, who among us is perfect at what they do? I think some of us may have been expecting perfection. Not happening, folks!
I can make plenty of excuses. New pitching coach, Castro catching him, not Schneider, the grand slam was pure luck, the wind took it, no run support, injuries, everyone is exhausted, I've a got a million of them. The point is, it was still a winnable game. We have to be able to hit, at least once we got into their bullpen. There is more than enough blame to go around.
Yes, Johan Santana is our stopper and he didn't stop them, but neither did anyone else on the team. Ask yourselves, are we better off with him, or without him? Are your expectations of what he alone can do realistic? We essentially got Johan Santana for Carlos Gomez. Check the status of the others involved in the trade and you'll see what I mean. I would make that deal again in a New York minute. Of course, it's not my money, but it is my team.