• Johan, Whitey & Zito

    Posted by on November 27th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    I was just playing around with the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, looking for a “comp” on Johan Santana – based on his throwing hand, age, innings thrown, and effectiveness (in terms of ERA against the league and RSAA). And, this is what I found:

    Hey, we know that Ford guy, right?

    Does this mean that Johan Santana has another very good seven years in him, like Whitey Ford did? Of course not – it only shows you how Johan has performed, to date. And, he’s been Whitey Ford-like.

    But, in fact, we know that, two years ago, Barry Zito looked like a good Whitey Ford comp too – and, we know how Zito is doing now.

    You know, the Red Sox have been very good at this “trade for a starter and lock him up” thing. See Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett. The Yankees? Well, they’re not so good at it (under Brian Cashman). See Javier Vazquez, Randy Johnson and Jeff Weaver.

    If the Yankees are going to make a big play for Johan Santana, I hope they really know what to look for, now, and have learned from their mistakes in the past.

    To me, the key is “Age, Injury-potential, and Make-up.”

    Checking Johan’s age is simple – and, he passes the test there. As far as the soundness of his body, one would hope that the Yankees would check out his shoulder, elbow, forearm, etc., with great detail before signing him to a long deal.

    The attitude thing is the tough nut. Does he have that borderline-cockiness confidence when he’s on the mound? Basically, is he a win-day pitcher – meaning the day he pitches, you win (because he’s someone who finds getting beat to be unacceptable)? Can he handle October? Is he the guy who wants the ball in Games 1, 4, and 7 of a seven-game series? Can he handle New York? Is he smart enough to play nice with the media or strong enough to block them out and not care what they say?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions. And, I’m not sure how the Yankees will find these answers – but, they better…before they pull the trigger on a deal for Santana.

    Comments on Johan, Whitey & Zito

    1. SteveB
      November 27th, 2007 | 1:37 pm

      There is no such thing as a “win day” pitcher. No matter how unacceptable a pitcher finds losing, he can’t win unless his offense scores some runs.

      Would I rather see Santana taking the hill in a playoff game than Wang. You bet. But I don’t think there is anything magical about him that “makes the team win because he finds losing unacceptable.”

      Hell, Manny ramirez finds losing totally fine, and his team won the World Series.

      Make-up as described here is a bunch of voodoo. Make-up is important when it relates to conditioning, learning new pitches, adapting to situations, dealing with frustration etc. But nobody wins anything just because they don’t like to lose.

    2. November 27th, 2007 | 4:33 pm

      ~~~Make-up is important when it relates to conditioning, learning new pitches, adapting to situations, dealing with frustration etc. ~~~

      I agree with the above. But, I would add that it also means using your talent with a will towards wanting to win rather than using your talent and being fine if the outcome is less than great…

      In other words, being ready to compete as opposed to just showing up and worrying more about your bank account or the party that night than the contest at hand.

    3. Rich
      November 27th, 2007 | 6:23 pm

      Although there was reason not to trade for Vazquez, e.g., his abuse points, the Sox had interest in him, and Schilling himself said that he would have traded for Vazquez over himself as a result of their respective ages. So some of the relative success of these acquisitions can be attributed to luck.

      I thought that trading for Johnson was stupid, given his age and pre-existing back and knee problems.

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