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I've always felt the intangible benefit of having older players on a team just because they're old was a bit overrated.
But when it comes to baseball I give the notion some credence.
Over 162 games and six months, you better believe focus wavers and commitment recedes. Having a guy who's done it before makes a difference, however incremental.
Johan Santana's return as an everyday presence in the clubhouse should help young hurlers like Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee and—if they get to New York in 2012—Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler acclimate to life in the big leagues.
As the staff's most experienced major leaguer, I look for Santana to have a particularly profound impact on fellow southpaw Jonathon Niese.
Niese needs to develop his changeup—his least-used off-speed pitch in each of his big league seasons—and Santana knows a thing or two about that pitch. A teacher-student relationship between the two could pay big dividends for the Mets.