Contemplating the IFs: What Happens IF (When?) Johan Santana Returns?

By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper

In Pulp Fiction, before the Wolf came in and cleaned everything up, Jules Winnfield tells Marsellus Wallace that he didn’t want to “contemplate the IFs.”  In baseball and especially at the trading deadline, we need to contemplate the IFs, and look at the larger picture.

This is evident with the Mets as well, because several key players are not only on the Disabled List and have been either since prior to the season or early on into the season.

But something we’ve been waxing intellectual on is – what happens to the rotation once Johan Santana returns?  There are currently five formidable starters in the rotation now – Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano, R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee (with Chris Young in the rotation early in the season).  Surely, when Johan Santana returns, one does not put him the ‘pen right?

Prior to the season, the two “Chrisses,” Capuano and Young, were reclamation projects, low-risk and high-reward guys who were coming off injuries in previous years.  Chris Young only made four stars and pitched 24 innings total.  However, getting paid $1.1 mm, it can be argued that he gave such quality starts that he earned that money.  As for Capuano, I call him the “Forgotten Man,” simply because he puts the Mets in a position to win each start, yet he has a propensity for giving up the long ball.

Currently constructed, the odd man out tentatively seems to be Dickey or Pelfrey, and putting either one in the ‘pen might be in the plans.  Dickey may have the leg up over Big Pelf in that instance because being a knuckleballer, he literally has a rubber arm.  Pelfrey’s head is clearly more suited to the role of starter, though that’s been up to debate lately as well.

My thoughts?  Although he was looking good for his first few starts, why not spell Gee for a bit in the minors?  Due to his last three starts, it looks like his arm is going through some dead issues and could use a bit of time to rest before 2012.  I know it could affect his Rookie of the Year candidacy but sometimes you need to do what’s best for the player and the team, and that could theoretically be sending him down to the minors to work on some stuff.

Overall, the return of Johan Santana is one big IF, but it has to be contemplated that in the event he does return this season, one of these current starters needs to work on a new role for the team’s good.  I think it should be Gee who moves to the ‘pen.  What say you?

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3 responses to “Contemplating the IFs: What Happens IF (When?) Johan Santana Returns?

  1. I think there could be a case for moving any of the 5 men in the rotation as it stands now to make room for Santana, IF and when he comes back. It may be that there’s another poke in the Mr. Met Voodoo doll right around that time and the decision is easy. Gee’s possible dead arm may be foreshadowing that now.

  2. i said this on metsblog the other day.

    unless big pelf is traded, it makes the most sense to bring gee down. not even counting his recent struggles third time around the lineup. most young pitcher hits a second half wall. they are not use to playing at this level, every start. send him down, have him work on his flaws and limit his innings.

    but i think the key to doing this, is promising him a rotation spot next season.

  3. If the Mets trade K-Rod, and all 5 starters are still in NY and healthy, I would consider using Santana as the closer at least for a while. He could be ready a lot faster, and it’s likely he would be a 5 inning starter when he comes back, which is not what they need.

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