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You've Got to Change Your Evil Ways

Mike SteffanosMonday, March 2, 2009
By Mike Steffanos

All of the brouhaha over Johan Santana's tight triceps tendon brings a few varied thoughts to my mind.

While I join most Mets fans in gratitude that this doesn't seem to be a serious problem, I find myself in agreement with The Eddie Kranepool Society's Steve Keane:

I can understand not wanting to spend over 45 mil for Manny Ramirez but you mean to tell me that with the first class facilities the Mets crow about down in St Lonesome, they couldn't purchase or lease a state of the art MRI an fly down Dr. Altcheck for month in sunny FLA. I still say the only reason that Johan Santana was not flown to NY is due to the 10 inches of snow that's on the ground and still falling from the sky here in NYC

I'm glad Johan was feeling better after his session Sunday, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to get a precautionary look at that elbow. Too often the Mets' medical decisions come across as reactive rather than proactive. Santana's arm is just too valuable not to utilize all possible caution.

Also, the way this whole tight elbow thing came out calls to mind another weakness of this organization -- the way they disseminate injury news. First it was Santana missing the start against the Italians, but he would start next Tuesday. Then of course the news got worse, although thankfully not worst-case.

The Mets always do this. They downplay injuries when they happen and then gradually admit the problem is more serious. You always get the feeling that another shoe is going to drop.

I wish they would just handle things with more candor. It's less frustrating if they admit to concerns right from the get-go, and I think the fans as a whole would get less impatient with them. Also, it just gives the news media another thing to throw in their (and our) faces.

From a public relations standpoint, the Mets as an organization come across as not handling their injuries well, but I bet if you were able to see some actual data on the subject they probably handed things better than the public perception. Certainly Ryan Church's case was bungled for a while last season, and that combined with the way they insist on trickling out bad news in stages works against them.

I've said it many times before: for a team that plays in the Public Relations capitol of the world, the Mets display a shocking inadequacy in this department time and time again.

Another interesting fallout in the Santana case is the news that Dan Warthen has his pitchers throwing a lot. I don't know if this is something that Warthen is going to stick to with all his starters all season, but this was something that Leo Mazzone always did in Atlanta.

For the most part it seemed to help. Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux had long, successful careers under Mazzone. On the other hand, Steve Avery was asked to do a lot early and was essentially ruined by age 25. There were also a bunch of pitchers that did well for a short time in Atlanta but struggled later on.

I'm curious -- and I admit I don't know -- if extra throwing was a short-term thing or part of Warthen's plan. If it's the latter, I'll be watching with interest to see how it plays out. It would be quite a contrast to Rick Peterson, who loved to give his guys extra rest and baby their arms.

We all think that we're in favor of asking more from pitchers until we're confronted with the cold reality of a possible Santana injury. Then we understand why more teams than not opt to baby those multi-million dollar arms.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (4)

It's probable that the Mets downplay or hide injury severity to keep other GM's from putting them over a barrel on a replacement trade. That said, it seemed that Wagner's elbow tenderness turned into Tommy John surgery in graduating pieces.

It concerns me (the elbow), and if in fact there is more to it than they are letting on, please take the necessary precautions with this man. I rather they shut him down now, have him get surgery if needed and lose him for however long in 2009, rather than have him gut it out, make matters worse and he not be there for 2010 or perhaps beyond. He is too valuable for the rotation and the team. We don't need him to turn into Pedro II, have a great first season, then battle injuries in the next 3 and be relatively useless to the team over the remaining contract years. Do what's right Mets, take care of Santana. I wonder was this on the radar when they asked him not to pitch in the WBC? Makes you go HHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM?

I have given up waiting for candor from the Mets regarding their players' physical condition.

Back in the days of the Cold War there were specialists, Kremlinologists, who attempted to figure out what was in the political wind in Soviet Russia by reading the subtile signs, things like who was standing next to who on the podium at the May Day parade. It's what I generally think of whenever Angel Pagan or Duaner Sanchez or somebody goes down; if Manuel employs the subjunctive tense, will that mean that Santana is really hurt? Or doea that mean he is okay, I forget.

See? I didn't have to reach back even a few years to toss off some examples; those guys are still among us. The Mets really should be more forthcoming.

Mike, this whole Santana thing is yet another case of the Mets' futility when dealing with injuries. To think there are no top-notch medical facilities in Florida where the team could have an MRI done is rediculous (they have the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Shands @ University of Florida......and that doesn't even speak to facilities in the Tampa or Miami area; both have professional sports teams)! Test results could be sent to anywhere in the world, and would certainly be available for the Mets team doctors to view. I'm amazed that some sort of system is not in place so that players don't have to be flown to NY for diagnostic tests; it's foolish and short-sighted!

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