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.