When was the last time an overpaid fifth starter got as much attention as Johan Santana is getting this spring?
Yesterday, Sports Illustrated‘s Jay Jaffe took the opportunity to bash the New York Mets while writing about Santana’s spring training “feud” with the team:
Beyond their recent legacy of mangling good ballplayers, what stands out more than anything is the Mets’ continued knack for finding negative publicity. Perhaps that’s a product of being perennial underachievers in a media market driven by a tabloid sensibility, where misfortune will drive coverage if good fortune does not. But even moreso, it’s a function of the team’s ongoing inability to resolve sensitive issues behind closed doors, and a tin ear for what their side of the story will sound like once they don’t. Any situation that pits a star player against his club is ultimately bad for business, even if the team is in the right, and given the club’s ongoing financial woes and embarrassing plight — this is a team that is stooping to allow Amway to open a storefront at Citi Field, and is having a hard time scaring up a major league outfield — the Mets hardly need more of that.
In an article read by fewer people, blogger John Delcos wrote:
This past week Santana showed more enthusiasm, more joy, mugging with friends from the Venezuelan [World Baseball Classic] team than he did his Mets teammates. Santana was mostly a recluse the past week, minding his own business and barely speaking to anybody, and least not in the clubhouse where he could be seen.
I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to hear about it anymore.
I loved Santana when he was pitching to keep the Mets’ playoff chances alive until the final day of the 2008 season, and I loved him even more when we found out that he was doing it on a bum knee. I bought a Santana jersey in 2009 when he was an All-Star. And every Mets fan alive loved “No-Han” on June 1, 2012.
But now? Whether Santana was ready to pitch on Opening Day or not, he was going to be the fifth starter this year. And on any given night, he may or may not be able to give the Mets a better chance to win than Jeremy Hefner. The Cy Young winner is long gone. The All-Star is gone. All that’s left is a pitcher who’s nearing the end of his career.
Tell me about the future – let me dream that Travis d’Arnaud, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey are going to join David Wright, Ike Davis and Jonathon Niese to somehow lead the Mets to a new golden age.
Tell me silly stories about the players who represent the Mets’ present or let me get to know some of the new faces like Collin Cowgill or John Buck.
But stop treating Santana like he’s the most important Mets pitcher in camp just because he’s the highest-paid.
This is the last time I intend to write about him until he pitches in a game or leaves the Mets.