Johan Santana is entering the final year of his 138 million dollar deal he signed with the Mets back in the 2008 off-season.
For every season he has been apart of the Mets, outside of the first one, he has had to head to the DL. For this last season, his DL trip will be at the start of the season instead of his normal DL trip at the end of the season. In fact, one of the years he had with the Mets was even worse than what was mentioned above for Johan, as he had to miss an entire season while on the DL.
138 Million Dollars. For one full season of baseball, one entire year missed and four years of shorten seasons because of various injuries. A 46-34 record in that time with a 3.18 ERA, an average of only 9 wins a season in his Mets career heading into this one.
It would make you think that Johan Santana would be hated by Mets fans. It would make you think that his time here will be remembered as a negative. Like past big time Mets free agents that went south (ie Bay, Jason or Perez, Oliver).
But you would be wrong. You would actually be ostracized by most, if not all of the fan base for making such a claim about Johan. Johan Santana has earned a rare status in sports by his performance on the field and what he brought to the team as a whole.
Johan is the Beloved Bust. He has not lived up to the expectations that comes with his contract but it’s everything that he has embodied as an athlete and a man that changes the perception from negative to positive.
It’s the complete game shutout against the Marlins on the second to last day of the season in 2008. The effort to come back from a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder which could have ended his career. Oh and of course, the greatest accomplishment of them all, the No-Hitter on June 1st against the Cardinals, the first one in Mets franchise history.
Those moments, the effort shown in all of them, has and will endear him to Mets fans for years to come. The contract, the injuries, the frustration of this Spring not with standing, he has earned enough credit with the fans base that those things will not be in much consideration when his legacy as a Met is talked about.
On Saturday, when speaking with the media Santana was quoted as saying “I’ve been in this game for a while. I went through that [surgery] a couple of years ago and I’m still here. So I’m going to battle and try to come back and help as much as I can. When that is going to happen, I don’t really know. All I know is I have to work and make sure that I get back into pitching.”
The battling, the effort to come back time and time again by Johan, when he could rest on his laurels, collect a paycheck and be done with it all is what makes him such a favorite in Queens.
Johan Santana is not like all the other big contracts gone wrong for the Mets. He has become beloved because when everything went wrong, he tried to make it right.
He might be a bust in terms of what he was paid and what he gave the Mets as a whole over the past six seasons. But, nobody will care, because of everything he did when he had the chance to do it.
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