Thursday, March 28, 2013

Closing the Book on Johan Santana

Johan Santana is injured...again. It's a recurring storyline that Mets fans have lived through for several years. This time, it's the final chapter in the Santana story with the Mets. With his contract expiring this year, there's zero to no chance we will ever see him pitch in a Mets uniform.

It's a horrible injury and Santana will have a long road back which is an awful thing for a fierce competitor like Santana. But here's why it's a good thing for the Mets.

It officially closes the book on the past.

Johan Santana has been the subject of "what ifs" for the last three years. What could have been or should have been with him as an ace never culminated the way Mets fans would have hoped. It's no fault of Santana's. He was without question the ultimate "gamer" in a big spot. He won pretty much every game that he absolutely had to. His body let him down, but Santana did not let Mets fans down.

We need to stop the second guessing of whether Santana should have thrown so many pitches in his no-hitter. No Mets fan would trade that for anything this past season. Why? Because that was the highlight of the Mets season. The Mets were not going to win anything whether Santana pitched a full season or not. What he gave us last June 1 was one of the most memorable moments in Mets lore. Santana has no regrets about it. Neither should we.

And that's where the story should end. That should be our lasting memory of this dominant force.

Now that Santana is no longer an option, Mets fans can't hold onto a fading thought that "maybe we could be better if Santana was healthy." He's officially gone. It's time for us to move on.

The team's future now rests in the hands, and arms, of youth. Harvey, Niese, Gee and Wheeler are what we need to look to. David Wright and Ike Davis are now the shoulders that must carry the weight of this team.

Santana's injury is a horrible thing, but the fact that he is no longer an option for the Mets makes our move towards the future hope and success of this club all that more clear.

Johan Santana is the ultimate competitor. He's a fighter and I expect he'll pitch again. I wish him the best, but I'm happy to close the book and look forward to what's next.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why the Retirement of Mariano Rivera Should Make the Mets Reflect on the Error of Their Ways

Every time I turned on the radio this weekend they were talking about Mariano Rivera retiring. WFAN, ESPN, and even WCBS couldn't shut up about Rivera retiring. He still has a whole season to play, we've got college basketball going on, spring training, the WBC and we're talking about a guy who's going to retire in 6 months.

Yes, we are. Why? Because he's been the most impactful player in baseball in my lifetime.

An overstatement? Perhaps, but I think it's true. The Yankees would not have won as many championships as they have over the last 20 years without Mariano Rivera. He has been the lock down, reliable closer for nearly two decades. Sure he has blown a game or two and some of them at the most inopportune moment, but his body of work is that of miracles.

He's a first ballot hall of famer and one of the greatest baseball players of all time. This should make the Mets reflect on what they've been doing for the last decade.

The current Mets outfield is awful. Sure, they need a right-handed power bat to help out Wright and Davis. But the biggest need the Mets have had for the better part of my lifetimes is...their bullpen.

Look back at the Mets stats over the last 8 years and you'll see that their bullpen has been their biggest demise. If you Google "BLOWpen" you'll instantly get a couple hundred articles about the Mets. The '07 and '08 seasons should have been playoff runs if it were not for the atrocity of the Mets bullpen. Season after season the question of "who will be the closer?" continues to rear its ugly head including this upcoming one.

The Mets should look at what Mariano Rivera has done and realize that no matter how good a lineup they have or how solid the starting pitching can be, the bullpen can ultimately decide the fate of a team in today's day and age.

And that's the area the Mets have not explored seriously. They've made small moves here and there, but a team serious about winning has to have a reliable bullpen.

Today, baseball is a 6 inning game for starters. Those last three innings are for the bullpen to handle and we know first hand how quickly things can implode.

We will probably never see another pitcher like Rivera. He's one of a kind so I'm not suggesting the Mets need to go get another guy like Mariano because he doesn't exist. What they do need is to stop this bullpen experimentation with Frank Frank, Parnell and (insert other name here).

Bullpens can win championships. Mariano Rivera is living proof.