3 Reasons Why Johan Santana Pitching in the World Baseball Classic Is Unwise
After not pitching in the 2009 World Baseball Classic while recovering from a knee injury, Johan Santana has apparently expressed interest in pitching for Team Venezuela in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, which will begin this March.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Santana will try to participate in the event once gets past a few obstacles he will have to go through, due to the time he spent on the disabled list at the end of the 2012 season.
The only way Santana will be able to participate is if a World Baseball Classic committee approves of his participation once it's determined whether he will be healthy enough to pitch or not.
However, if Santana is actually able to participate, it could be very risky for both himself and the Mets.
Here are three reasons why Santana participating in the World Baseball Classic would not be wise.
1. Santana Is Recovering from Yet Another Injury
Santana's 2012 season ended in August due to a lower back injury. It was the fourth consecutive time in which injuries ended Santana's season early.
Santana's time with the Mets has been solid overall, but he has been marred with injuries a lot more than anyone would have expected.
At 34 years old by Opening Day, Santana is clearly past his prime and is a big injury risk going forward. If he gets hurt in the World Baseball Classic, it could have a significant effect on the Mets' upcoming season.
2. The Mets Don't Have a Particularly Vast Amount of Pitching Depth
If Santana were to get injured in the World Baseball Classic or during the regular season, the Mets would not have that many legitimate options to replace him.
Jeremy Hefner would be the most likely short-term replacement in the rotation in case Santana or any other starter gets hurt. However, his role with the team is in greater value as a long reliever than a starter.
Jenrry Mejia and Collin McHugh could be two other options, but both are much better off developing further in the minor leagues.
And then there is Zack Wheeler, the Mets' top prospect. Wheeler could use a few months in the minor leagues to fine tune his talents before being called up, but would certainly be considered if an injury on the major league roster occurs.
The Mets would probably not want to rush Wheeler into the major leagues that quickly, so a healthy Santana could possibly prevent this from happening too soon.
3. Santana's Value to the Mets Outweighs His Value to Team Venezuela
The World Baseball Classic currently occurs once every four years. 2013 happens to be the year in the cycle that it will happen.
Most—if not all players that participate—do so in order to represent their country. They take a lot of pride in doing so and try to have fun at the same time. This sounds nice, but between the Mets and Team Venezuela, Santana is far more valuable to the Mets.
The Mets are paying Santana $31 million this year, which is by far the most of anyone on the current roster. They need him to pitch well in order to hopefully win more games and contend for a postseason spot. If he gets hurt, then the $31 million will turn into a complete waste and would not make the Mets and their fans happy at all.
If Santana participates in the World Baseball Classic and Team Venezuela happens to play well, then it will be great. But the happiness would be very temporary because the regular MLB season will start shortly after.
On the other hand, if Santana skips the World Baseball Classic and works hard to rehabilitate himself and pitches reasonably well, the Mets could possibly find themselves in the postseason, which Santana and the Mets both have not reached see since 2006.