Saturday, July 5, 2008

Santana's Been Everything Advertised Except In The Win Column

  • Phillies 3-Mets 2:
Johan Santana's won/lost record is mediocre on the surface, but if the Mets had been able
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to score any runs for him and play better defense, he'd have at least six and possibly eight more wins and there wouldn't be talk of him "underachieving"; not being worth the money and prospects the Mets paid; or derogatory comments and implications of him saying things like (I'm paraphrasing), "I did my job but the team didn't score". In fact, given his career history, Santana has been far better in the first half of 2008 than he's been over his career; the pitcher's been borderline unhittable for most of his career in the second half, so it's a good bet that the Mets fans and media are going to have the ace they were expecting in addition to Santana himself racking up the wins.
It's almost eerie how he's exploded in the second halves of seasons to dominate and be a perennial Cy Young Award contender. Since joining the starting rotation full time in 2004, Santana has been a second half pitcher. The only blip on that result was last season when the Twins fell out of contention, made it clear that they were going to start dumping some
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salaries and the Santana trade rumors began in full force. If anything, Santana has been better than advertised because he's probably desperate to impress his new teammates, new league and live up to the contract he signed. Once he gets fully comfortable (and the Mets score some runs) the wins will be there.
As for the comments for which he received lukewarm criticism, for a pitcher who is coming from a mid-market team like the Twins and didn't have to deal with the constant media attention, I don't think Santana was aware that every word he says can be taken out of context and twisted into what the media wants to portray. If he's asked the same questions over and over again----Is it frustrating? Would you like to see the team score more runs? Do you feel responsible for the loss?----he's going to say something that could be construed incorrectly. The numbers and his performance are in line for what the Mets expected in every category but number of wins and there's little he can do about that unless he starts hitting like Babe Ruth. Once the second half comes around, the questions will disappear and the wins will be there because Santana's career history says so.
  • Twins 12-Indians 3:
I had thought that the Indians were going to hold onto C.C. Sabathia and hope to crawl back into the race in a winnable division/Wild Card scenario, but they've collapsed since then and, with the release of Joe Borowski, they're signaling that they're moving forward. Sabathia's
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going to get traded. The speculation is centered around the Brewers being the team with the biggest package of prospects and willingness to offer them, but I'm thinking the Dodgers make the move and sign Sabathia to a long-term deal to keep him. Perhaps the Indians will also be able to find someone to take the forsaken (by his shady, HGH-providing dentist and MLB's skepticism at his unbelievable story) Paul Byrd and his 3-10 record off their hands as well.
  • Braves send Jeff Francoeur to Double A:
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This must have been a massive blow to the ego of a player as impressed with himself as Jeff Francoeur. Last year, he appeared to turn the corner into becoming a potential MVP with increased selectivity at the plate and a Gold Glove, but he's taken about three steps back this year and something had to be done. It might be a shock tactic to get him to listen to what his coaches, manager and teammates are advising him to do (such as stop hacking at every pitch he sees). Francoeur seems to be a player whose bluster is a cover for fear of failure, yet he wouldn't be able to perform without that personality; the slump has robbed him of his confidence and he looks like he's in a fog, so a couple of weeks away can only help. If he hits in Double A, I'd guess he'll be back in Atlanta after the All Star break.
  • Denver 18-Miami 17:
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Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler hit receiver Brandon Stokley with a 28-yard pass with no time on the clock to win the game for Denver...whoops. Wrong sport. Did the humidor break or was it just the pitching?

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