June 27, 2008

Klapisch & Peterson on "Slower" Santana


In his latest column for the Bergen Record, reporter Bob Klapisch ponders Johan Santana's diminished speed and what it means for him and the Mets.

From Klapisch:

Something’s missing, isn’t it? It’s not just his 7-6 won-loss record that’s disappointing, or that the Mets’ have won only nine of the 16 games Santana has started. Some of that mediocrity has been beyond the left-hander’s control, including a lack of offensive support in 3-1 and 2-1 losses to the Braves and Padres, respectively.

But a closer look at the numbers reveal that Santana has simply become an easier mark. As his fastball erodes, his swing-and-miss ratio has declined, as well, leaving him more vulnerable than ever to fly balls – and with increasing regularity, home runs, too. Despite pitching in the lighter-hitting National League, Santana has already surrendered 14 blasts this year, and is on a pace to exceed the career-high 33 that he allowed with the Twins in 2007.

The radar-gun tells the story. Where Santana used to regularly light it up at 94-95 mph, the lefthander now averages 90-92 mph, according to the Mets’ radar gun. That means the gap between his fastball and change-up has narrowed to approximately 10-mph. The illusion factor, while still formidable, is no longer pure magic.

Klapisch discussed Santana with former Mets' pitching coach, Rick Peterson:

“That’s been the foundation of Johan’s career, swings and misses are what he’s been about,” said Rick Peterson, former Mets’ pitching coach. Speaking by telephone on Thursday, Peterson believes Santana has the maturity to accept his diminishing velocity and the work-ethic to put a new battle-plan into place.

Yet, as someone who mentored Santana during the first half of the season, Peterson admitted, “the margin for errors becomes smaller” without the blistering heat.

With or without his 2004 stuff, Peterson insists, “Johan has the wherewithal to make any adjustment necessary”

With 6 years left on his contract, and at the young age of 29, it's horrible to think that Johan is already on the downside of his prime. Prior to his acquisition, many people speculated as to Santana's health, after giving up a career-high 33 homers last season, as well as his diminished velocity (down 2-3 mph). If somehow he were able to turn it up a notch, as we've all been waiting for now that it's "hot" out, this situation becomes moot and the blue and orange brigade rests easier. If not, the next 6 years will be the longest 6 years of our lives. It's not like Santana has been bad this season - quite the opposite- he just isn't that dominant starter that we all expected, and maybe that's 50% our fault, putting unreal expectations on Santana, believing him to be the saviour who would throw the team on his back and drag us back to contention on the heals of last season's collapse. His ERA is below 3, but his 7-6 record is what most fans are fixated on, fairly or unfairly, it's just the way it is. Years ago, when Craig Swan had a sub-3.00 ERA for a bad Mets team, the only thing most fans saw was his 8-15 record (or thereabouts) and didn't embrace him as our new "ace"- at least Santana has the track record prior to coming onboard to make it plausible that we've yet to see his best...

8 comments:

Cherry Hill Sherry said...

Man- we got fleeced again. Next we'll find out that Santana is 39 years old and has a bad foot, shoulder, elbow, bunyon, etc...why does EVERYONE get worse once they become a Met, at least since we got Gary Carter?

Anonymous said...

Have patience- Santana will get better when it gets hot- what? It's hot already? oh...Never Mind...

GooGooMetFan said...

I PRAY that this is NOT the Santana that we're going to see for the next 4-5 years. He HAS to find that 2-3 mph more to make him that dominant star once again. If he's hurting, take him out, get him healthy and forget about the rest of the season- it's not like we're a top team right now anyway. Get rid of Delgado and Castillo too, and make a clean sweep, and then bring Johan back next year and we can have a new team next year!

GooGooMetFan said...

I PRAY that this is NOT the Santana that we're going to see for the next 4-5 years. He HAS to find that 2-3 mph more to make him that dominant star once again. If he's hurting, take him out, get him healthy and forget about the rest of the season- it's not like we're a top team right now anyway. Get rid of Delgado and Castillo too, and make a clean sweep, and then bring Johan back next year and we can have a new team next year!

Total Twins Fan said...

The Mets have a losing record, the Twins are almost in first place, Carlos Gomez is an offensive machine, your prize prospect Martinez is doing nothing and Johan is older then he seems to be and gives up too many dingers. We've fleeced you and you don't even know it yet. And if Guerra or Mulvey becomes a major league pitcher, you've got $137 million reasons to be angry, Mets fans!
GO Twins!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah the Twins are so good that Joe Mauer will be the next Yankee catcher, Mourneau will wind up with the Cubs, Gomez will give you 5 years, become a free agent and come back to the Mets and you'll have won exactly ZERO World Series during that time- go back to Minny-ha-ha and snort more snow and ice!

Omar Sucks! said...

I bet Johan's arm falls off during the all-star break and mets' doctors put it back on - backwards!

Come on, Omar- make a trade that actually benefits the team you WORK for, not the one you trade with! Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore for Fatman Colon- make one of those trades for US- in REVERSE - where WE get the three great prospects!

Get rid of Wagner and Heilman for a great prospect package, waive Delgado and Castillo, bring up Murphy and Kunz and Niese, and get some of those younger players onto the roster. I'd rather root for young, hungry players then old, uninterested ones any day!

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