As I type this, the numbers are flying all over the place. 7 years, $150.75 million at an apy of $21.5 million per. Well, all those numbers sound nice in early February, but at this same time of year, I have a few more numbers to throw out there.
14 Days…1 Hour…12 minutes. Yes, those are the numbers that matter the most to me. You see, those numbers will get smaller and smaller until February 14th at 12 noon, when a 28, soon to be 29 year old Venezuelan arrives in a sleepy little town off the east coast of Florida known as Port St. Lucie. That will be the time, when Johan Santana steps into the home teams locker room at Tradition Field, looks across the room, and sees yet another number, albeit a more firmiliar one. 57. However, this number won’t be on the back of a Minnesota Twins spring training jersey, it will be that of the New York Mets.
At that point, the numbers, the money, the potential of past prospects and the ghost of bad deals past will not matter. At that moment, it’s all about an amazingly talented man and his ability to throw a baseball; and throw it as well if not better than almost anyone else on this planet. The only numbers that will matter between that time and October will be the one’s that precede the letter “W.” Even the numbers on the patch on his sleeve that will read “1964-2008″ will mean nothing. This isn’t about the past, it’s about the future. 2008 will mean nothing without those numbers in front of that “W.” And even though all year, Johan Santana’s numbers will be dissected more than a frog in a High School Biology class, it’s all about winning. Winning is every bit as much of an attitude as it is anything tangible. An attitude that eluded this Mets ball club in the dog days of last summer.
Monday, David Wright, The Carlos’, Jose Reyes and many others were probably still practicing their answers to the question, “What happened?” By this coming Monday, they will be asking questions of their own and looking forward to introducing themselves to the one man who can potentially take the pain of game 162 away. You see, Johan Santana brings more to this club that a stellar left arm and knee buckling change-up, he brings simple change. He brings the 2008 version of the New York Mets onto the field, and while many of them still feel the pain of last September, make no mistake about it, Johan Santana didn’t come here to be a footnote on the worst collapse in baseball history. He may not be the savior…but he also sure as hell isn’t Livan Hernandez.