The New York Mets just got some great news going into Spring Training – Johann Santana will not pitch for the Venezuelan baseball team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic in March. Santana underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee at the beginning of October to repair some torn cartilage. He just recently started throwing and appears to be on track for the 2009 MLB season. The Mets had expressed concern about Santana not getting enough prep work in before Venezuela’s first game against Italy on March 7th in Toronto. But the club also stated that if he was physically able to pitch, they were not going to prohibit him from playing.
The World Baseball Classic did not want to insure Santana to play in the WBC because of the high cost involved. Because of the surgery, Santana fell within a “high risk” category, and neither the WBC nor the Venezuelan Federation wanted to risk any sort of injury to Santana.
Good news all around for Mets fans. As the staff’s ace, the last thing the Mets needed was for Santana to get injured during the WBC. He has already started participating in drills and has yet to experience any difficulties or discomfort with the knee.
Mets GM Omar Minaya took care of the biggest void the Mets had during the last 2 MLB seasons – the bullpen. Minaya signed dominant closer Francisco Rodriguez to a 3-year deal at a fairly “economical price” and then dealt a few players to land another legitimate closer (who will now serve as K-Rod’s set-up mane) J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. If the Mets had had either of these guys in 2007 and 2008, it probably would have been the Mets and not the Phillies who advanced to post-season play from the NL East. The Mets bullpen blew so many leads during the course of each season, one of these guys would have made a huge difference down the stretch.
Rodriguez has been as close to automatic as one can come during the last 4 MLB seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. From 2005 through 2008, Rodriguez saved 45 games, 47 games, 40 games and a major league record 62 games. He has a career ERA of 2.35 and a career WHIP of 1.11 – fantastic numbers for a closer. He has also struck out 587 batters in 451.2 innings of work. The one concern – he has a lot of mileage on that dynamic right arm of his. Rodriguez has pitched in at least 59 games in each of the last 6 MLB seasons. In 2008, Rodriguez pitched in 76 games – a career-high and an absurd number for a closer. Rodriguez is still young – 27 years old – but it was a still a good move by Minaya to limit the number of years on the contract to 3. With those kind of innings logs, who knows how long this kid is going to be able to keep up his efforts.
Putz saved 36 games in 2006 and 40 games in 2007. For one of the worst teams in baseball in 2008, Putz played in 47 games and still saved 15 of them.
The Mets are still looking to add a starting pitcher. Tim Redding is close to signing an incentive-laden contract to give the Mets some depth in the back end of the rotation. The Mets are also still in the hunt for Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez or Randy Wolf.
So far so good for Minaya. I found this hot stove report a good read from Jeff Passan. The Mets still need to perform on the field, but by addressing the bullpen issues, I like the Mets chances for the dethroning the Philadelphia Phillies as the 2-time defending NL East champions. If not, it could be Minaya looking for a new job in 2010.
The New York Mets exercised the 2009 club option on 1st baseman Carlos Delgado. Delgado started off the season in a major slump, but redeemed himself through the final 3 months of the season to finish with 38 home runs and 115 RBI’s. Delgado even got his average up to .271. In the final 84 games of the 2008 season, Delgado clubbed 27 home runs and drive in 80 runners, while hitting a torrid .308. The Mets hope they see more of the 2008 2nd half of the season Delgado when they open play in their new stadium, CITI Field, in April 2009.
The New York Mets also inked 33-year old clutch hitter Fernando Tatis to a 1-year contract worth $1.7 million. Tatis was out of baseball in 2004 and 2005, and found himself in the Mets minor league system in May 2008. When injuries struck the Mets outfield, Tatis got the call delivered clutch hit after clutch hit all season long. For the season, Tatis hit 11 home runs, drove in 47 RBI’s and compiled a .297 batting average. He missed the last 2 weeks of the season after he separated his right shoulder in a 1-0 loss to the Washington Nationals. The Mets rewarded Tatis with the big contract, and do not expect the late-season injury to hamper Tatis at all in 2009.