Since the start of the offseason, it seems everybody has been talking about where Johan Santana would end up.
With Opening day of 2008 just two months away, America has finally found an answer to its question:
Johan Santana will be a New York Met.
Remember February 2nd? For those who don't know, the Mets were given an ultimatum, sign Johan Santana by 5 o'clock Friday or the deal is null.
If you were a fan of any team in the NL East besides the Mets, this probably was not a happy day for you. Most likely you were at school studying, or possibly at work fumbling through the Internet hitting the refresh button every 10 seconds literally waiting to hear the news, will the Mets sign Johan Santana?
And at 5:00, you were probably ecstatic calling some of your friends and discussing the possibilities of your team making the playoffs.
But then, with another refresh, the announcement came: The Mets had asked for a two hour extension, and the request had just been granted.
Mind you just two minutes ago you were already parading around yelling "My team will make the playoffs!!"
The final contract was seven years, $137.5 million with incentives leading to 150 million dollars, making him the highest payed pitcher ever. Even though you may think the Mets will most likely make the playoffs, I'm about to show you why this may not be the case.
First off lets talk about the On Paper Factor. This brings us to the New York Yankees, a team that always has the best team on paper. Owner George Steinbrenner always seems to get the best players, ala Randy Johnson and Johnny Damon, but look at them, they constantly have the best team on paper every year, and look how far they have gotten.
Their last World Series was in 2000 and since then they have not made it back. So for all of you calling the Mets a sure World Series team, you may want to reconsider.
Second of all, let's not forget that all of the teams besides the Marlins have improved tremendously since last season. The Nationals most would say have improved the most out of any of the teams. This off season they have signed star relief pitcher Jon Rauch to a two year deal, signed catcher Paul Lo Duca, traded for young standout pitcher Tyler Clippard and even bagged a great prospect and almost MLB ready player Lastings Milledge.
Then the Phillies, although one could argue that the Phillies have not done much, you have to give Pat Gillick credit for bringing them to the playoffs for the first time since ‘93.
They have upgraded by bringing in a valid number two pitcher in Brett Myers, and upgrading the bullpen, with the addition of Brad Lidge of Houston (all star in '05). Not to mention the tremendous third base upgrade in Pedro Feliz
Third of all We do not know yet how Santana will react to the league change, AL to NL. Most people seem to assume that Santana will have no problem adjusting, and in fact he SHOULD do much better, but he won’t. He simply won’t.
Let's start with the Phillies.
The Phillies have one of the biggest hitter parks in all of baseball. Starting with the 327 foul pole and 401 Center field, the Phillies will be hitting dingers constantly. Not to mention there team is filled with home run hitters. Ryan Howard (47 home runs) Chase Utley (22 home runs) Jimmy Rollins (30 home runs).
Then there are the Braves.
The Braves play at Turner Field, which is also a major hitters' park. With Chipper Jones, Jeff Francoeur, and Mark Texeira, the Braves pose a real threat to Santana, who after all served up a shocking career high 33 home runs.
Although RFK and Shea Stadium are pitchers' parks, this will soon change, since both teams are undergoing new field reformation that will reportedly cease in 2009. RFK stadium possibly the biggest pitcher park in the majors will be destroyed and replaced with a new stadium, just in time for the start of the season.
To reiterate the statement, Santana will have a hard time adjusting to the NL East.
To conclude, Johan Santana’s trip to the NL East will pan out as a stupid mistake. Although Santana is a two time Cy Young pitcher, it will be interesting to see how he comes off of a 15 game Season his worst since ‘03. The fact is that the rest of the NL EAST teams have gotten bigger, better, faster and stronger, and look for the teams to show a huge improvement from last year.
Besides landing Santana, Mets GM Omar Minaya had a pretty insignificant off-season, which will surely cost them. The Philadelphia Phillies won 89 games last year, and at the beginning of Pat Gillick’s tenure as GM, he stated to Philly fans, that 90 games was the goal, 90 games would make it to the playoffs.
With the immense improvements aforementioned, I believe the Phillies are better than the were last year, so they should win over 89 games.
We will just have to see how Santana pans out, but until opening day 2008 on April 1st Mets VS Marlins we can only hypothesize.