Johan Santana reportedly tops out at 81 mph in workout

Johan Santana MetsJohan Santana is attempting a pitching comeback after undergoing a second shoulder surgery to repair a torn capsule, but it sounds like he’s a long ways away from being big-league ready.

Santana threw for MLB teams at a Fort Meyers high school Tuesday, according to the New York Post, and the Yankees were one of seven franchises who sent a representative to watch the pitcher.

According to The Post’s George A. King III, Santana threw mostly in the upper-’70s and topped out at 81, though King says Santana’s once wicked changeup was still “impressive.”

Santana, who turns 35 in three weeks, missed all of last season after having surgery in April. The operation was Santana’s second in less than three years to repair the torn capsule.

The Mets signed Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, to a six-year, $137.5 million deal in 2008. Because of injuries, Johan only made 109 starts for the team between 2008-2013. They declined to pick up his option for 2014 and bought him out for $5.5 million.

It’s sad that Santana’s career took these turns and it’s obvious he’ll never be close to his top form with the Minnesota Twins. But if he keeps regaining strength, maybe he’ll build up enough velocity to become a big league pitcher again.

Many teams will likely be keeping an eye on his progress. He may not have the speed to pitch in the 90s again, but as long as he still has his stuff, he might be able to fill a hole in a rotation.

John Buck says Johan Santana was tipping his pitches

johan-santana-metsJohan Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history last season, but he struggled mightily after that and finished the season 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA. Santana was bouncing back from shoulder surgery and finished the season on the disabled list with a back injury. Apart from his health, Santana may have had other issues that led to his struggles.

During an interview with SNY Thursday, catcher John Buck, who was acquired in a December trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, mentioned that he thinks Santana has been tipping pitches.

Buck brought up Santana after being asked how his experience as a former Mets opponent can help his new team.

“Being on the other side -– whether it’s Johan tipping his pitches or whatever -– those little tiny things will help. I was just on the other side hitting off of him. I can maybe tighten some of those things up,” Buck said, via Mets Blog.

Buck was asked if he was throwing out a hypothetical issue, or something real.

“I might have seen something. Consider it cleared up,” he said.

Buck’s comments could provide some optimism for Mets fans who are hoping to see Santana rebound to ace form, however, I’m not sure they should get too excited.

As Rotoworld points out, even if Buck’s former team the Miami Marlins knew Santana was tipping pitches, it sure didn’t help them hit off him. Johan had a 2.84 ERA in two starts against them last season while Buck was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Additionally, there have been reports in the past about Santana tipping his changeup, and I was told by former players that Santana tipped his changeup even when he was winning the Cy Young award with the Minnesota Twins. The point is that as long as Santana is healthy and has his best stuff, batters will have trouble hitting him even if they know what’s coming.

You can see Buck’s comments in the video below around the 2:50 mark:

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Johan Santana gets Mets first no-hitter ever with help from blown call, Mike Baxter

Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history on Friday in an 8-0 win over the Cardinals. Santana threw 133 pitches and walked five batters, but he managed to no-hit the best offense in the National League.

Although he didn’t allow any hits, Santana’s game was far from perfect. In addition to the five walks, he got some help on an umpire’s blown call, and a teammate’s great catch.

First up was a line drive down the third base line from Carlos Beltran in the sixth that was ruled foul by umpire Adrian Johnson, although replays showed it hit the chalk and therefore should have been ruled fair:

Though he didn’t see the Beltran play, he knows he got some assistance.

“There are times when one play makes the whole difference, one call makes the whole difference. If that was the case, tonight [the Beltran ball] was the call.”

In addition to the umpire’s mistake, Santana benefited from a great play in the seventh. Left fielder Mike Baxter crashed into the left-field wall chasing down a Yadier Molina fly ball:

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Agressive Autograph Seeker Ruins Johan Santana’s Start

Man, New York fans are having a bad run lately. First some schmuck on a cell phone at a Yankees game gets hit in the face by a ball, and now we have an overzealous Mets fan who thinks the beginning of a game is a good time to get the starting pitcher’s autograph. True story. Some doucher wearing a David Wright jersey threw out the first pitch of the Mets/Cardinals game on Wednesday night and decided that he would take advantage of his access by bugging Johan Santana for an autograph while on the mound. Unfortunately for Senor Dumbass, Santana had more important things to worry about, such as facing Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, so he was turned down.

In the pictures above, you can see the doucher reaching into his pocket to extend something for Johan to sign. He was obviously turned down as Johan was preparing for business. Santana went on to get rocked for six runs in the first, so maybe Karma is saying that Johan was the jerk. I’m not buying that — I’d say St. Louis’ lineup had more to do with it than anything else. Check that, maybe ESPN televising the game did; Santana’s two worst starts of the year have come on their nationally televised games. If I were working for their network I’d schedule Mets games and bet on the other team when Santana’s pitching. But back to the story at hand, it’s truly appalling to think that fans could be so damn inconsiderate. Idiots like that make us all look bad.

When’s Frankie Rodriguez Hitting the DL?

johan-santana-metsWhen it rains, it pours. That’s definitely the case for the 2009 Mets. I joked with a friend who’s a big Mets fan recently that all they needed was Johan and Frankie to go down to complete the injury circle. Now all I have to say is there’s still about five weeks left for K-Rod to get hurt. With Johan Santana likely out the rest of the season because of his elbow problems, the Mets will have their five best players (four of whom might be top 25 players in MLB) on the disabled list at the same time. Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado have been out nearly the entire year, Carlos Beltran has missed a bunch, and now it’s David Wright and Johan who have been snake bitten. I guess the good news for Mets fans is their season ended so long ago that the prospect of shutting these guys down the rest of the way isn’t so bad.

What’s impressive about Johan is that he was pitching with major discomfort ever since the All-Star break, yet he still posted a 3.22 ERA over seven starts. Between Johan’s $20 million, Beltran’s 18.5, Delgado’s 16, Wright’s 7.5, and Reyes’ 5.75, the Mets have nearly $68 million in payroll sitting on the shelf. Sure there’s a lot to feel bad about here, and it’s tough to win with all your best players on the DL, but the Mets were flawed entering the season anyhow. They certainly have a handful of stud players on their roster, but the supporting group is not very good. Additionally, their starting pitching outside of Johan has been consistently weak. Wilpon’s being a nice guy and conscious of circumstance when he says he’ll bring back both Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya next year, but I’d give both their walking papers. Omar spends well with his good players but doesn’t fill the rest of the roster very well. At least he has his Prada shoes to go home to at the end of the day.

Johan Santana’s Overreacting to Hitting Kevin Youkilis

The Mets and Red Sox met on the first night of interleague play in MLB on Friday with Johan Santana squaring off against Daisuke Matsuzaka. Johan went seven innings giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits, picking up his sixth win of the season. With two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the 5th, Santana went high and tight on Kevin Youkilis who turned into the pitch and got hit on the elbow. Even though Youk turned into the pitch, the guy seemed playfully ticked off that he wound up getting hit, ostensibly because it hurt. As he was going up the first base line, he looks at Santana and appears to playfully say, “S***, damn.” Matter of fact, the video has made the rounds because NESN color man Dennis Eckersley actually cusses in the video. Check it out so you can judge Youk’s reaction for yourself:

There didn’t seem to be any sort of disrespect on Youk’s part, and Kevin even said he was joking around. That’s exactly how it came across to me after watching the video. Well apparently Johan Santana saw things differently. Check out his reaction to the whole thing — it’s pretty intense:
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Johan Santana Does Not Make the Mets a World Series Winner

Sorry to deflate the balloon of all you Mets fans out there — and I know there are many of you — but I don’t think this trade (if it goes through) will mean a ring for your team. By acquiring the top pitcher in the game, you have become even more of a contender than you were before. But even with Johan Santana, do you still give the edge to the Mets over the Diamondbacks in the playoffs? That would be hard for me to do. Furthermore, the seminal Johan Santana moment for me — and this coming from one of his top fans going back many years — is when he got out-pitched by Barry Zito Game 1 of the ALDS at home, getting bombed on by the Big Hurt. I know Johan’s beaten the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the playoffs, but I haven’t seen him rise his game in the post-season the way Josh Beckett has. And the Red Sox have Beckett, making them my favorite to win it all almost every year.

I’m not saying Johan Santana isn’t a great pitcher, and I don’t want to knock him down. I just have a really bad feeling about him leaving Minnesota. The four-year $80 million offer the Twins made seemed pretty good to me. I know Johan will probably bag $150-160 million guaranteed and be set for life (not to mention be on a well-funded, more competitive team), but I have a really bad feeling about him playing somewhere else. I don’t think he’ll be the same; I can see the extra media attention, pressure, or even injuries plaguing him. I really think staying in Minnesota for the four years and $80 million, plus another 3-4 year deal after that for an additional $75 million or so was probably the way to go rather than what he’ll likely get from the Mets. It’s not often that stars from small-market teams work out well when they sign monster deals with New York teams. I just hope Johan does well enough to the point where he’s going to Cooperstown wearing a Mets jersey.

And as far as the trade on the Twins’ side goes, it’s far too early to tell how this will pan out (if it goes down). You need at least five years to see what becomes of the four prospects they’re receiving. I’m being told Minnesota didn’t even get the Mets’ top prospects, but nobody can really comment until we see how they all pan out. What I do believe is that the Twins could have received a few major-league ready players from either the Red Sox or Yankees, but they didn’t pull the trigger. If you believe those reports (which nobody outside the actual negotiations really knows), then I think Aaron Gleeman summed it up best saying Smith slow-played a monster hand and didn’t get paid off. That seems about right to me. Oh yeah, and check out Johan’s Baseball-Reference page while you’re at it to see his post-season stats. Gleeman also sponsors the page and his comment there is hilarious.