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Is Johan Santana Worth the Contract He Was Given?

Johan Santana (NY Daily News)

By the end of the 2007 MLB season, the Mets had just completed a collapse of historic proportions. On Sept. 12 of that year, the Mets had a 7-game lead with 17 games to go on the second place Philadelphia Phillies. They had the best record in the National League as late as Sept. 17. By the end of the season a mere two weeks later, they did not even have a good enough record to make the playoffs as a wild card team. The Mets knew they needed to make a big splash that offseason and who better to get than one of the most coveted starting pitchers in recent memory: Johan Santana.

The Race for Johan

When the Minnesota Twins announced they were going to trade Santana, the New York Yankees,  Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, and not surprisingly, the Mets, threw their hats into the ring. The Twins’ asking price was quite lofty, which appeared to quickly eliminate the Mets and Mariners, leaving only the powerful Red Sox and Yankees to battle it out.

The Yankees believed that the Twins were asking for too much.  In an attempt to call the Twins’ bluff, the Yankees pulled out of the bidding for Santana, leaving only the Red Sox. When the Yankees came to the realization their archrivals, the Red Sox, had a strong shot at getting Santana, they attempted to get themselves back into the mix, but it was too late.  At the same time, the Red Sox announced they too, felt the Twins were asking too much. The Twins, feeling the pressure to get a deal done, reached out to the Mets, who were hiding in the wings and struck a deal, shocking the baseball world.

The Aftermath

The Mets traded four minor league prospects for Santana, none of whom have had much success in the major leagues thus far.  According to many sources, the Twins hurt themselves by initially asking too much for Santana and were forced to accept the lowest offer of the four teams.  Once the Mets acquired Santana, he quickly became the ace they so desperately needed.

In 2008, his first season with the Mets, the team had a .547 winning percentage, while Santana had a personal .696 winning percentage and finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, while also pitching his way to the lowest ERA in all of baseball. To top off an already impressive season, Santana ranked 14th in the MVP voting that year, an award pitchers rarely ever receive. The 2009 season showed once again how great Santana is with the Mets, with the team winning 43% of the time and Santana winning 59%. This trend continued in 2010 as well.

Conclusion

Although Santana has been injured the entire 2011 season and may not pitch again until next season, it appears as if the Mets made the right move by trading for such an unbelievably talented pitcher who should be the anchor for the 2012 Mets pitching staff. I believe any MLB GM would have made the move if they had the opportunity. I further believe that current Mets GM Sandy Alderson would also have made the move even with the 20:20 hindsight he now has of how things would turn out.

One season of an unavoidable injury does not outshine the positive impact Santana has made during his time with the team.  When he returns in 2012, Santana will assume the role as one of the Mets’ standout players, hopefully returning the team to previous glory.

About Saltzy

Stats:Age: 34 Sex: Male Favorite sports: Baseball, Football, Basketball Favorite Players: Jose Reyes, Eli Manning, Amare' Other hobbies: Poker, Fantasy Sports Title: Contributor Contact: saltz@sportsofnewyork.com I am a New York native who grew up watching the Mets, Giants and Knicks. I was too young to fully appreciate the championships the Mets won in 1986 and the Giants won in 1990, but was fully appreciative of the Giants 2007 Super Bowl win. I count 2-3-08 as one of the best days of my life. I moved to Boston with a few coworkers of mine that I hardly knew and took a big chance of moving to a city I barely knew anything about. I got along well with my roommates and my new city and decided to make it my permanent home, despite having difficulties following my favorite teams, due to living so far away from New York. I am extremely passionate about sports and will discuss the Giants Super Bowl win over the Patriots anytime, anyplace and with anybody. I am a social worker in the day and sports writer by night. I enjoy slaving over my laptop writing about sports. My ultimate dream would be to become a professional Texas Hold'em player. If you have any questions, or you want to privately comment on any of my posts, please feel free to email me: saltz@sportsofnewyork.com.

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