Results tagged ‘ Sandy Alderson ’
As I walked back to my apartment from dinner Friday night, I noticed that I had a lot of text messages – a rarity as I do not text much – and I realized that Johan Santana had thrown the first no-hitter in the history of the New York Mets.
Though many people know Santana’s exploits in the major leagues – the Cy Young awards, the sub-1 WHIPs – Santana’s path was anything but ordinary. In 1995, the Houston Astros signed Santana out of Venezuela as a center fielder. Due to his arm strength, left-handedness, and perceived inability to become a major league hitter, Santana was soon converted to a pitcher. After finally being granted a visa, Santana was assigned to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Astros, where he put up a 7.93 ERA across nine games (five starts) and 36.1 innings. Promoted to the Short Season A Auburn Doubledays of the New York Penn League, Santana made one four-inning start to end the season, allowing just one run and one hit, walking six and striking out five.
To start the 1998 season, Santana was held back in extended spring training, and was sent back to Auburn in June, striking out 88 while walking 21 in 86.1 innings over 15 starts, putting up a 4.36 ERA. At the end of the season, Santana made two appearances for the full season A Quad Cities River Bandits of the Midwest League. Santana struggled in his two appearances, putting up a 9.45 ERA over 6.2 innings.
In 1999, Santana had his best season pitching for the Michigan Battle Cats of the Midwest League, putting up a 4.66 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) over 160.1 innings, striking out 150 and walking 55 in his age-20 season.
After the season, the Astros left Santana unprotected in the Rule V draft, and, just two years after losing Bobby Abreu in the 1997 Expansion Draft, the Florida Marlins selected Santana with the second pick of the 1999 Rule V draft. The Marlins then dealt Santana to the Minnesota Twins for Jared Camp, the first pick of the 1999 Rule V draft.
The Rule V draft is fascinating, as to be eligible for the Rule V draft, a player:
- Is not included on the 40-man roster of the organization holding his contract; and
- Has been in the minors and/or majors for at least four years, if he was signed after his 19th birthday; or
- Has been in the minors and/or majors for at least five years, if he was signed before his 19th birthday.
In short, to hold onto Santana, all the Astros had to do was put him on the 40-man roster. However, to hold onto Santana, the Twins were required to keep Santana on their major league roster for the 2000 entire season, something that is difficult to do when a young player has not played at a level even close to the majors. The Twins, sensing the talent in Santana, kept him on the roster as the entire season as the long man and a spot starter, appearing in 30 games, pitching 86 innings with a 6.49 ERA. In 2001, Santana served in a similar role, pitching 43.2 innings with a much-improved 4.74 ERA before straining his left elbow flexor and missing two months.
In 2002, Santana was to be turned back into a starter and opened the season in the minor leagues for the first time in two years, putting up a 3.14 ERA across 48.2 innings for the AAA Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast League before being brought back to Minnesota. Santana started to show his talent, putting up a 2.99 ERA in 27 games (14 start) for the Twins, striking out 137 and walking 49.
In 2003, Santana opened the season as a middle reliever for the Twins, putting up a 1.59 ERA in his first 11 appearances. Santana made a spot start, going five innings against the high-powered offense of the Boston Red Sox, allowing no runs in five innings. After seven more relief appearances with a 6.52 ERA, Santana became a starter for the duration of the season, putting up a sparkling 3.22 ERA across 92.1 innings, putting up an 8-2 record. During the 2003 season, Santana put up a 3.07 ERA across 45 games (18 starts) while striking out 169 batters and walking 47 batters. Despite the seemingly pedestrian statistics (though the 3.07 ERA was good for a 148 ERA+), Santana picked up one fifth-place Cy Young vote.
In 2004, Santana dominated, putting up a 2.61 ERA across 228 innings, striking out 265 with a 20-6 record. Even more amazing was the second half of Santana’s season. After putting up a 3.78 ERA in 19 starts across 123.2 innings, Santana overwhelmed opponents with a 1.21 ERA across 15 starts over 104.1 innings while averaging 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Even more amazing was Santana’s final six starts of the season, all in September. Across 40 innings, Santana allowed only two runs (both earned), while striking out 52. After the season, Santana was awarded the American League Cy Young award.
Over the next three years, Santana established himself as one of the most reliable and dominating pitchers in the major leagues, winning another Cy Young, coming in third place and fifth place one time each. From 2004 through 2007, Santana put up a 70-32 record, striking out 983 while walking 198 and allowing 705 hits. In 2005, Santana went 16-7 with a 2.87 ERA. In 2006, Santana went 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA, striking out 245 to lead the league in strikeouts for the third consecutive season. Additionally, Santana won the pitching triple crown, leading the American league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. In 2007, Santana seemed to take a step backwards, put up a 3.33 ERA across 219 innings and had his first WHIP higher than 1.000 since 2003.
After the season, the Twins, fearing Santana would leave as a free agent after his contract expired after 2008, looked for a team willing to give up multiple top prospects. Rumors swirled around multiple large-market franchises, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees. The Yankees were rumored to be offering a number of packages involving different prospects, including Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes, Jeffrey Marquez, Ian Kennedy, and Jhonny Nunez. The Red Sox were dangling a number of packages as well, including packages that included a combination of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, and veteran Coco Crisp. The Dodgers were dangling packages involving prospects Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, who was viewed as the best pitching prospect at the time.
While the Mets were rumored to be involved, they refused to part with top prospect Fernando Martinez, thereby significantly decreasing the possibility they would acquire the ace. In the end, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers were unable to acquire Santana and it was the dark-horse Mets who acquired Santana for Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey.
The Mets, fresh off one of the largest collapses in baseball history (at that point, possibly only eclipsed by the 2004 Yankees in the ALCS and the 1964 Phillies), needed to acquire another arm and make a splash. Without giving up their top prospect, Fernando Martinez (#20 in Baseball America), the Mets were able to acquire one of the best pitchers in the game. In the deal, the Mets paid a high price, as Deolis Guerra (#35 in Baseball America) was fresh off a season in High A St. Lucie as an 18-year old, an age most people are finishing up High School, Carlos Gomez (#52 in Baseball America, after being #60 in the previous year) showed significant upside in his brief trial with the Mets, Humber struggled in AAA after being the #3 overall pick in 2004, and Mulvey showed a lot of promise in AA after being a second round pick in 2006. In short, while the Mets did not give up their top prospect, they gave up a lot of talent to acquire Santana.
In 2008, Santana did not disappoint. Leading the National League with 34 starts, 234.1 innings, and 964 batters faced, Santana put up a 2.53 ERA and capped the season with one of his best starts of the season in the 161st game of the season, a sparkling 117-pitch complete game shutout, allowing three hits and walking three more, striking out nine against the Florida Marlins. Unfortunately, the Mets struggled to complete the season yet again, missing out on the playoffs in the final day. After the season, Santana had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.
In 2009, Santana pitched well, putting up a 3.13 ERA across 25 starts before being shut down in late August due to bone chips in his throwing shoulder after the Mets fell out of contention. Santana would return in 2010, putting up a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts across 199 innings before being shut down in September due to an Anterior Capsule Tear. A capsule is a soft tissue envelope that helps to attach to the scapula, humerus, and the head of the bicep. Due to this injury, Santana missed nearly the entire 2011 season, only making two appearances at High A St. Lucie.
In 2012, Santana returned with a vengeance, striking out 68 in 68 innings, and leading the National League with 11 starts and two complete game shutouts, including the no hitter on June 1, the first in Mets history – 8,020 games.
After the game, Santana addressed the Mets, saying, “[t]onight we all made history, that’s all that matters. I give it to you guys, because you guys made it happen.” Santana’s game was amazing for a number of reasons, it was the first time he had fewer than three hits in a complete game and the most pitches he ever threw in one game, with his 134 pitches amounting to nine more than he had ever thrown in a professional baseball game.
By sheer coincidence (or was it?), the next day I attended a Baseball Prospectus event at CitiField where I, along with a number of other baseball fans, had the opportunity to hear a number of baseball writers including Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks and Ben Lindbergh; BP and SI.com’s Jay Jaffe; and MLB.com’s Corey Schwartz. Additionally, there was a 30-minute question and answer session with Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. Alderson opened by discussing Santana’s outing, discussing Manager Terry Collins’ decision to allow Santana to throw 134 pitches despite only recently coming back from shoulder surgery. Alderson, while showing a clear preference for not allowing Santana to throw 134 pitches, commented that “probabilities, mathematics take a back seat to emotion,” showing his support for Collins’ decision.
In the end, Santana’s no hitter, the first in Mets’ history, was something that he will remember for years and so will a great a number of Mets, former teammates, and sports fans. But the best comment is from Johan Santana himself:
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
In the history of #1 draft picks, only six have not yet played in the Major Leagues. They are Steve Chilcott (I’ll get to him, I swear) in 1966, Brien Taylor in 1991, Matt Bush in 2004, Tim Beckham in 2008, Bryce Harper in 2010, and Gerrit Cole in 2011. Beckham is 22 in AA, Harper is 19 in AAA, and Cole is 21 in high A; all three appear to be on their way to making it to the majors in the next few seasons, leaving us with three players, Chilcott, Taylor, and Bush, who will not make it to the majors. For a little bit in 2011 and during spring training in 2012, it looked possible that it would only be Chilcott and Taylor in the club but, due to recent actions, it looks like Matt Bush may make the undesirable duo into a trio.
The first high school short stop taken with the #1 overall pick since Alex Rodriguez in 1993, Matt Bush was an unpopular pick from the start. Widely viewed as a fringe top 10 talent, Bush had two things going for him: he attended Mission Bay High School in San Diego and he told the Padres he would sign quickly and for less money than many of the more highly ranked players. Bush ended up signing for $3.15 million, less than Jered Weaver ($4m at #12 to the Angels) and Stephen Drew ($4m at #15 to the Diamondbacks) and immediately found it necessary to begin making idiotic decisions. On June 20, mere weeks after being drafted and signing a contract, Bush was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault, trespass, disorderly conduct, and underage drinking. Bush was charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors, and was suspended by the Padres. After the felony charges being dropped and a deal being agreed upon regarding the misdemeanors, Bush’s suspension was lifted and Matt Bush properly began his professional career. Things did not get much better for Bush once he began playing baseball, putting up a putrid 181/302/236 line in 21 games for the Arizona League AZL Padres, the Padres’ Rookie level affiliate, followed by a 222/276/296 line in 8 games for the Northwest League Eugene Emeralds, the Padres’ Low A affiliate.
After the season, Bush’s talent and performance failed to impress the pundits. In Baseball America’s top 100 Prospects for 2005, 11 2004 draftees made the list but Bush was not one of them. Bush’s 2005 season was not much better: a 221/279/276 line while playing for the Fort Wayne Wizards, the Padres A level affiliate in the Midwest League. After not being ranked in the Baseball America top 100 (you may sense a trend), Bush broke his ankle during spring training and missed half of the season, putting up a 268/333/310 line in 21 games once he returned to the Fort Wayne Wizards.
In 2007, Bush was hitting 204/310/276 for the Lake Elsinore Storm in the hitting friendly high A California League before the Padres decided to try to make Bush into a pitcher. After six appearances for the AZL Padres across 7.1 innings where Bush struck out 16 (19.6 K/9), walked two, and allowed five hits while frequently throwing mid-to-upper 90s fastballs, including hitting 98 many times. Bush was promoted to the Fort Wayne Wizards, where he faced one batter before feeling pain in his pitching elbow. After medical tests showed a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, Bush was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. Bush missed the rest of 2007 and all of 2008. Despite all of this, Bush remained on the 40-man roster, thereby protecting him from the Rule IV draft.
In early February 2009, Bush committed a drunken assault on a number of boys’ lacrosse players at Granite Hills High in El Cajon, California after a drunken altercation. The details are best told by Brent Schrotenboer of the U-T San Diego:
A witness, who requested his name not be used because of the ongoing police investigation, said Bush was drunk, threw a golf club into the dirt, picked up and threw a freshman lacrosse player and hit another one. Bush also yelled “I’m Matt (expletive) Bush,” and “(expletive) East County,” before driving over a curb in his Mercedes when leaving the campus, according to the witness.
To put it mildly, the Padres’ management was nonplussed. Bush was removed from the 40-man roster and dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for either a player to be named later or cash considerations. On April 1, 2009, Bush was released by the Blue Jays for violating their zero tolerance behavioral policy.
But Matt Bush’s upper 90s heat was too intriguing to ignore, and he signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in January 2010. After 5.1 innings (allowing 1 run and two hits while striking out eight batters) for the Rookie level GCL Rays, Bush was promoted to the High A Charlotte Stone Crabs, where he pitched 8.1 innings (allowing four runs, seven hits, and striking out 12). Bush was sent to the Ray’s AA affiliate in the Southern League, the awesomely-named Montgomery Biscuits, where he pitched 50.1 innings, striking out 77, allowing only 48 hits, and posting a 4.83 ERA.
Still only 25, many pundits felt that Bush could become a dynamic late-inning reliever with his upper 90s fastball and devastating two-plane slider. Logically, this is when Matt Bush reminded the world that he is still Matt (expletive) Bush. After borrowing the SUV of teammate Brandon Guyer (who was unaware that Bush did not have a driver license), Bush (allegedly) hit a 72-year-old motorcyclist, running over the motorcyclist’s head while fleeing the scene. Bush was arrested and charged with fleeing the scene with serious injuries, driving with a suspended license with serious injuries, DUI with serious injuries, and DUI with property damage. Earlier in the day, Bush caused two other, separate, accidents. Bush struck a pole (though details are unavailable as to the nature of the pole), then struck a Jeep Cherokee in Guyer’s Dodge Durango, damaging the Jeep but the two people in the Jeep were not harmed. After his arrest, Bush’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was an amazing 0.18, or more than twice the 0.08 BAC limit in California.
As of this point, Bush has not yet been released, but it seems likely that he will be released (unless, of course, the Tampa Bay Rays organization fails to do anything, as he may form the only felon duo in modern baseball with Josh Lueke).
But what happened with Matt Bush? Frankly, I think Matt Bush happened to Matt Bush. A player with amazing talent, Bush seemingly got in his own way as often as possible. It appears that he has a drinking problem, which can only adversely impact performance, and his oversized ego poses another problem, especially when coupled with his general lack of elite performance. In the end, Bush shouldn’t have been picked #1 overall. If Baseball Reference’s WAR is to be used, either Justin Verlander or Jered Weaver would have been the best picks, with Dustin Pedroia coming in third, and even 45th rounder Tony Sipp ranking a significantly better choice. In the end, the Padres’ unwillingness to pay an extra $2 million cost them significantly more down the road, and Bush’s boorish behavior will probably cost him a chance at living the dream.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect!