Well here we are at number 20 on this list of the top 50 Mets of all time. So far we have covered Mets from their inception in the ’60′s, the dark era of the late ’70′s , Their rebirth in the ’80′s, the mediocre ’90′s and of course the the halfway point of this decade.
So what are we missing ? Well so far there hasn’t been a player from the last four years – until now !!
Ladies and gentlemen I would like to reveal number 20, the most important pitcher of this most recent era, Johan Santana.
Johan Alexander Santana was born in Tovar Venezuela on March 13, 1979. In 1994 when he was 15, Johan was “discovered” by Astros scout, Chance Partin. He signed Santana, then a center fielder, and sent him to the Astros academy in Guacara. While Johan was attending the academy, he was converted to a pitcher because of his to his arm speed.
In November of ’99 Johan was left unprotected by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft, and he was subsequently drafted by the Minnesota Twins.
In ’00 Johan made the Twins major League roster, and he made his debut on April 3, 2000, in relief against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Four days later , Johan would make his first pro start against the Kansas City Royals. In his rookie season with the Twins, Johan would finish with a record of 2-3 with a 6.49 ERA . In ’01, Johan would spend most of the season in the minors. He pitched in 15 games for the Twins that season and went 1-0 with a ERA of 4.74 in 15 games.
In 2002, the Twins sent Santana back to the minors to gain more seasoning, and to perfect his change up. When Johan returned to the Twins, he was transformed from a mediocre middle reliever to a highly respected ( and feared) starter. In 27 games that season, Johan went 8-6 with a ERA of 2.99.
In 2003, Santana started the season once again in the Twins bullpen.But in August he would be put into the starting rotation permanently. He won his last eight decisions and started in game one of the ALDS against the New York Yankees.
2004 was the season where Johan finally came into his own, He went 20-6 with the ridiculously low ERA of 2.61. He struck out 265 batters that season. Johan utilized his entire pitching repertoire that included a fastball which topped out at 94 mph, his circle change up, and a slider. Johan would win the Cy Young award that season , easily beating out Red Sox starter, Curt Schilling.
In 2006 , Johan would win the Major League Pitching Triple Crown. He had 19 wins, he led the majors with a ERA of 2.77 while striking out 245 batters. He won his second Cy Young award that season.
In 2007, Johan was named to his third straight All Star Game. he finished the ’07 season with 15 wins, 235 strikeouts and a ERA of 3.33.
After the ’07 season ended there was rumblings that Johan ( who was in the last year of his contract) wanted the Twins to sign him to an extension. Talks between his agent and the Twins fell through and he was put on the trade market , with both the Yankees and the Red Sox seen as the favorites to land the left handed ace. But the Mets led by then general manager, Omar Minaya, slipped under the radar and acquired Johan for outfielder, Carlos Gomez and pitching prospects, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.Of all these player , only Guerra is still with the Twins. On February 1, 2008, the Mets and Santana agreed to a six-year contract worth an estimated $137.5 million . Santana was named the opening day starter against the Florida Marlins, and he pitched seven innings to earn his first win as a Met. His most memorable game as a Met came on the second to last day of the ’08 season , when he pitched a three hit shutout on three days rest against the Marlins, which spared the Mets from being eliminated from playoff contention for one more day. It would later be revealed that he had pitched with torn meniscus in his knee. Johan would finish his first season with the Mets with a record of a 16–7 and a ERA of 2.53 ERA with 206 strikeouts.
In 2009, Johan Santana pitched the season opener against the Reds in Cincinnati. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing only 1 earned run, earning the win.But unfortunately he would land on the disabled list that August, missing the rest of the season after he was diagnosed with having bone chips in the elbow of his pitching arm. He would have successful arthroscopic surgery to remove the bone chips . Johan finished the season at a record of 13–9 with a 3.13 ERA.
In 2010, Johan would once again have the honors of being the Mets opening Day pitcher. He would earn his first win of the season against Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins.
Santana pitched good enough to lose last season. He was the victim of virtually no run support what so ever, and he would be shutdown once again in the middle of August because of a torn bursar sack in his left shoulder. Johan’s season ended with a record of 11-9 and an ERA of 2.98. Johan is currently starting his rehabilitation from his surgery, and it is hoped that he will be back by this seasons All Star Break.
In his Mets career so far , Johan has a record of 40-25with a ERA of 2.85
Tomorrow we will profile one of the most controversial players in recent Mets history.
And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
Original Mets pitcher, Roger Craig is 81 (1930) .Roger was used mainly as a reliever in his years prior to being a Met when he was a member of the Dodgers organization. He is quite possibly the most losing-est pitcher in Mets history, compiling a record of 15-46 in his two seasons with the Mets. After he retired he would become a pitching coach, then a manager for the San Francisco Giants. Many people don’t know this but he helped rebuild Mike Scott’s career when he taught him the split fingered fastball.
Middle reliever from the ’05 Mets, Juan Padilla is 34 (1977) .
Sadly on this day in 1986 , legendary pitcher and original Mets pitching coach, Red Ruffing passed away.
The Chicago Cubs signed reserve outfielder, Jerry Morales of the New York Mets as a free agent on February 17, 1981.
And while you sit at home all day just watching the ice and snow slowly melt , just remember that there are just 43 R.A Dickey days ( that has a ring to it !!) to go until the Mets open the 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami, and only 50 more until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Mo Vaughn loved kumquats !!!