NY Mets Need Johan Santana Ready, But Not For Opening Day

 

The NY Mets hired a new Strength and Conditioning coach for 2013, his name is Jim Malone. Malone was hired in early November in an effort to upgrade the way the players in the organization physically conditions themselves for the 2013 season and beyond, especially when little nagging aches and pains have some guys taking time off due to soreness not injury, you would also think his first duties as the S&C coach would be to meet with Johan Santana and oversee a workout plan for him after the abrupt end of his season. I mean, it stands to reason right that Santana’s health would be of optimum importance to the Mets?

I don’t just look at Santana as the Ace of this Mets staff, I also look at him as Sandy Alderson’s prime blue ribbon steer, the one commodity that Alderson has left to sell off for some much needed calf’s to restock the Mets farm. Santana should have been given the best feed and a comprehensive workout program that would strengthen his surgically repaired shoulder and his endurance. He was given none of that by the Mets, and now Alderson is surprised that Johan Santana cannot make the proclamation that 99.9 % of players make when they report to spring camp that “he is in the best shape of his life”.

Talk about not doing due diligence, how in the world did the Mets not monitor the lefties off season workout activities?  I would think that every player in the organization sits down with the training staff and strength and conditioning staff and charts out a winter routine to make sure guys report to St. Lonesome in tip top shape. This isn’t reserve clause era baseball anymore where players have to take jobs selling insurance or laying brick, the biggest job most players have is staying out of their wives way, so I’m sure vast majority of baseball players hit the gym in the winter time, because as I said in the above paragraph all we here from players today at reporting time is they are “in the best shape of their lives”.

All the talk now is about getting Santana ready for an opening day start at Citi Field. Seriously, that should not be the top priority, no the Mets need for Santana to work at getting that left shoulder strong and if that means he doesn’t come up North until the beginning of May then so be it. Santana’s value to the Mets isn’t what he brings in his starts, no, his importance to the Mets is what he can bring back in trade.

Johan Santana is the last of the high priced players of the Omar Minaya era and the last real trade chip Sandy Alderson has left that isn’t named Harvey or Wheeler, if he is healthy.  Right now the Mets need Santana and Malone to sit down and work out a conditioning plan that gets him back on the mound with a strong left wing that throws strikes. If it takes the next 4 weeks of spring and a DL stint and a couple of rehab starts in Las Vegas then so be it.

This is not to disparage Santana or to call him out for not working out this winter, not at all. Santana when healthy was a force with the Mets  a guy who not just competed but rose to challenges  when faced with them.  Of course there was last years no hitter which will leave Santana (and Mike Baxter) mark on Mets history.  His first year with the Mets on July 27th 2008, a day after the Mets used every pitcher on the roster in a 14 inning loss to the Cardinals; Santana pitched a complete game and beat the Cards 9-1. Then on September 27th Santana beat the Marlins 3 hit shutout on 3 days rest to keep the Mets playoff chances alive. Oh yeah he did that with a torn meniscus in his knee as well.

Santana is as tough as a two dollar steak, coming back from the meniscus tear, elbow chips and reconstructive shoulder surgery. No question Santana will now work to get back into the rotation but now in the last year of his contract with the Mets, the cold reality is, he’s a short timer.  The question Mets fans should have about Santana isn’t if he will make the opening day start, it should be can Sandy Alderson move Santana to a contending team for a blue chip outfield prospect by the July trade deadline.

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