Chicks Dig Run Protection
For me, there is nothing better than a well pitched game. The casual fan might not enjoy a pitching duel, but many true fans of the game can appreciate the beauty of a well pitched game.
To put the point differently, we can compare what the Mets would look like with and without Santana, using Dan Szymborski's excellent ZiPS projections, which are available at baseballthinkfactory.org. According to Szymborski's numbers, Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Hernandez, and Pelfrey project to pitch 796 innings this year, with a 4.10 earned run average. Swap Pelfrey out for Santana, and the rotation looks good for a 3.69 ERA in 880 innings.
Just to give you an indication of how tremendous that is, only 22 qualified starters in the entire big leagues posted a 3.69 ERA or better and the Mets project to have their entire starting staff average ERA there. As for team ERA for starters, the Padres, Indians, Cubs, Boston, Angels, Giants, and Toronto rounded out the top eight with a 4.11, 4.19, 4.19, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, and 4.24 respectively.
The Mets were 11th with a 4.40 and it should be noted, Tom Glavine helped pull down that number as he was on the wrong side of 4.40. Of course there will be injuries, but Mike Pelfrey is one of the better 6th options in the league so I feel pretty comfortable saying the Mets might be odds on favorites to lead the league in starter ERA with a full year of Pedro and Johan in the fold.
The scary part is the Mets were already sixth in the bigs for starter k/9. Tampa was first with 7.71, Boston was second with 7.01, Baltimore was third with 6.95, the Cubs were fourth with 6.92, the Angels were fifth with 6.87, and the Mets were sixth with 6.85. Minus Tom Glavine's 4.00 k/9 and add in Johan and Pedro's innings at an aggregate of 9.00 k/9 or more and you have something that makes a grown man giggle.
Also, the Pedro and Johan-less Met starters last year were second in the league in BAA with .256 second to only the Cubs .248. It is safe to say that will improve quite significantly as Johan's three year BAA is .217 and Pedro's is .216, which will obviously be up post surgery, but I do expect him to be pretty damn good.
This is why I think it is comical when people say "I'm not all too worried about Perez and Maine" or "I do not think their pitching is all that good". They were really pretty decent last year and are markedly better this year. Green is not a flattering color, but it seems to be a popular one these days when it comes to anything relating to the Mets. One thing is for sure, it is hard to get Met fans down these days.
The upshot is that the Mets now boast the best starting pitcher in the division in Santana, the best position player in the division in David Wright (who should've been NL MVP last season), the best closer in the division in Billy Wagner, and the best GM in the division in Omar Minaya (Pat Gillick is deliriously overrated, and John Schuerholz is now the Braves president).
That's a fine start on a division title. Contingencies certainly remain. For instance, the Mets need Carlos Delgado to rebound to a degree (likely), they need Moises Alou to stay generally healthy (uncertain), and they need Ryan Church to provide an upgrade over Shawn Green in right (very likely).
Getting Santana without having to give up Fernando Martinez, Aaron Heilman or Mike Pelfrey makes the Mets that much more potent in the NL East, and a front-runner for the NL pennant
John, NY: Keith, In your listing for Fernando Martinez, you made this statement: "It's been fashionable this off-season for some writers to bash the Mets' top prospects, mostly vis-à-vis the Johan Santana trade talks, but this criticism has been way overblown." I'm assuming this was before the Santana trade - but are you saying you like the Mets system? Who's left now?
Keith Law: (2:40 PM ET ) I was talking about how many writers said the Mets' "inferior" prospects would preclude them landing Santana, even to this day. Gomez and Guerra are not zeroes. I hate to be in a position to defend the Twins' end of the deal, but really, the criticism is way overboard. They didn't deal Santana for a bag of balls; they just didn't get what they probably should have gotten.
Muchas gracis Senor Law.
Ed (Charlotte, NC): Keith really enjoy your work. Was wondering why E. Kunz was left out of the Mets top 5 prospects?
Keith Law: (1:26 PM ET ) Sidearming reliever, could just be a specialist, bad athlete. He was a consideration at #5, since their system is rather depleted; Carp probably wasn't the best choice for that slot.
I guess I feel a little better that Carp should not have been the fifth best prospect, but it is still rather ugly down there.
Chad (New Hope, MN): I keep hearing Carlos Gomez has "raw" talent. So what is his ceiling? Potential all-star or is he just an average everyday player?
Keith Law: (1:45 PM ET ) Ceiling is a potential All-Star, leadoff guy with explosive speed, plays well above-average defense in CF.
Wilson (DC): Gomez ceiling = Juan Pierre. OH BOY.
Keith Law: (1:47 PM ET ) No, I said Gomez would be good.
And he did rank his 36th overall in terms of prospects so that is pretty good.
Alan (St. Petersburg): Is there anyone in your top 100 who you think could make a big leap this year, maybe someone you downgraded for now out of caution?
Keith Law: (2:23 PM ET ) Chorye Spoone. Josh Smoker. Tyler Robertson. Deolis Guerra. Chris Nelson. Fautino de los Santos. Moustakas. And anyone I downgraded due to injury - Garcia, Brackman, Lincoln.
I actually thought he was a bit pessimistic in regards to Guerra, but it is good to see him acknowledge that he is a breakout candidate.
Justin NJ: hey, you biased Fishmonger! The Mets ain't been in da newz at all lately. Gimme some Brant Rustich lovin'!
Keith Law: (2:29 PM ET ) Live arm, lot of minor injuries, not sure about him in pressure situations.
The arm is there, but his college numbers versus what people say about him is what confuses me the most. If he has three above average pitches, why did he struggle so much at UCLA?
Dan (Hell): How about a projection for the 2009 Top 10?
Keith Law: (2:43 PM ET ) Kershaw, Snider, Fernando Martinez, Jennings, McCutchen, Wieters, Wade Davis, Price, Vitters, Triunfel. Candidates to jump to #1 overall would include Martinez, Davis, Price, Wieters, Triunfel, Porcello, maybe Austin Jackson.
Of course, this is the real joy of the chat. Fernando, Fernando, Fernando...
10 Fernando Martinez OF New York Mets TOP '07 LEVEL: AA (Binghamton) age: 19
It's been fashionable this off-season for some writers to bash the Mets' top prospects, mostly vis-à-vis the Johan Santana trade talks, but this criticism has been way overblown. Martinez's 2007 performance doesn't impress on a quick look, but consider these facts: He played the entire season at age 18 in AA; and he was hitting .309/.372/.409 as late as May 25 before the effects of a contusion on his left hand ruined what remained of his season. He was shut down on June 23 and missed the rest of the year. Martinez shows huge raw power in BP that will make its way into his game performances, and he has a solid approach with good pitch recognition for someone so young. He has good range in center and a plus arm if he outgrows center field and has to move to right. To put his development in more perspective, if he'd played a full year at AA and hit .290/.360/.410 or so, he would have been on pace to debut in the big leagues at 19 or 20 and be a big league regular before he turned 21. He's going to be a star, but everyone has to bear in mind how young he is to keep his performance in perspective.
Sweet baby jebus. That is good stuff and exactly why Law was a lone soldier saying he would not trade Fernando straight up for Johan and his one year. If you are sure he is going to be star, much like Longoria is going to be, they are much more valuable than an ace. First off, there is so much risk in regards to arms and everyday players that are stars will generally add more wins than ace pitcher year in and year out.
Of course Johan is the best of the best so he pretty much beats most position players every year, but when you factor in Fernando's cost for that type of projection, it really makes him hard to move for anyone that does not come with many years of below market cream of the crop production and that is why the Reds would not move Jay Bruce for Erik Bedard either. Of course the Mariners are giving Jones away for Bedard if it goes through, but there are plenty of people to argue that this is not exactly the best deal for the Mariners who are incorrectly calculating they are one 'ace' type pitcher away from contending.
Even if that's true -- and Cabrera is no world-beater yet (even those who don't love Gomez say he's "a tick above'' Cabrera in terms of value) -- it's still hard to knock Smith for ignoring Hank Steinbrenner's quick deadline and pressing for more.
Precisely. Even the people that did not love Gomez agree he is more valuable than Cabrera. The people that love Gomez must have it as a landslide towards Gomez over the known (and mediocre) quantity Melky.
DG had another theory.
"Fucking idiot, isn’t he? You know he’s full of himself enough to think his possibly drunken rants actually influence anything!"
I had not considered any inebriation involved with his writing, but that would explain a lot.
"You're talking four guys with a big question mark by all of their names," Viola said. "Carlos Gomez, he has to be comparable to a Kirby Puckett and a Torii Hunter? Good luck with that."
Really? Gomez is going to have to be comparable to those guys? Gomez will have to and not....oh I don't know...Delmon Young perhaps? Gomez is under pressure to perform because of the trade, but not because he is going to be the centerpiece of this team. Maybe he will be, but there are plenty of other guys on the team to be 'Kirby' or 'Torri'.
Once the Santana deal is completed, the Mets may add more starting pitchers. They have not ruled out the possibility of signing the free-agent right-hander Kyle Lohse, who went 9-12 in 32 starts for Cincinnati and Philadelphia last season.
That move could push Orlando Hernandez to the bullpen, bolstering an aspect of the team that crumbled toward the end of last season.
Hernandez’s versatility would make him a valuable long reliever or, because of his success against right-handed hitters (they batted .167 off him last season), a late-inning specialist who could defuse a pressure-packed situation.
I'm torn on this one and I have not given it much. I did want The Duque in the bullpen, but I wanted someone else in the rotation.
JOHAN Santana has never thrown a no-hitter. Neither has any New York Met. Yet, I believe the moons are aligned for that to change.
1. He is great. Actually, I don't think it has truly sunk in yet with even giddy Mets fans just how great. His 9121/3 innings over the past four years are 251/3 more than anyone in the majors. Yet even if you shrink the criteria to 500 innings, no pitcher has allowed fewer hits per nine innings than Santana's 6.95. And that is working in the AL.
The hardcore fans know, but there are plenty of people, like my father, who would have no idea who he is. So yes, legions of Met fans have no idea what they just got.
"He works quick, gets it and throws. He is athletic, so forget bunting on him. He is competitive, and then some days his slider, which is good, is great. On those days, you have no shot. He is unhittable."