Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Uh Oh, There Goes the Division

In a move that blows the Phillies signing of Pedro Feliz out of the water, the Mets have acquired arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Johan Santana. The Mets mortgaged their future, giving up four prospects (outfielder Carlos Gomez and three pitchers: Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra), but they now have a guarantee that they will be division favorites for as long as Santana stays in New York. There are still two hold-ups to the deal, as Santana must waive his no-trade clause, which he will, and he needs to agree to a multi-year deal with the Mets. Don't hold our breath that it will fall through, though, as it is believed that the Mets wouldn't have agreed to the trade if they didn't think they could work out a deal with Santana.

This move shifts the balance of power in the division back to the Mets. The Mets had a weak off season up until this point, and the Phillies seemed to have done just enough to make them favorites. But the addition of Santana changes everything. As a lefty ace, he is the perfect foil to the Phillies strong left-handed hitting. I can already see Ryan Howard whiffing about 20 times on a Santana breaking ball this year.

Here is the Mets current rotation:

1. Johan Santana
2. John Maine
3. Oliver Perez
4. Pedro Martinez
5. Mike Pelfrey/Orlando Hernandez

Compare that to the Phillies rotation I put up in the previous post, and the Phils are at a clear disadvantage. It's a good thing that Pedro isn't Pedro anymore, or this division would be a cakewalk for the Mets. I would bet they trade El Duque for a prospect and let Pelfrey take over the #5 spot.

This trade puts the onus back on the Phillies to improve their pitching. As bad as it it for teams to be reactionary to what other teams do, the Phillies have to go out and sign Kyle Lohse right now. Signing Lohse would at least cut the gap between the two rotations. I don't care what kind of money it takes, the Phils need to pay up if they want to stay competitive. I am not sure exactly how good the prospects the Mets had to give up were, but it is clear that they want to get back into the playoffs this year, and in the next few years to come. They may have given up too much to get Santana, but they may have also sealed up the NL East. The time is yours, Phillies.

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