Was it ever going to turn out any other way for the New York Mets?
The news of team ace Johan Santana‘s potentially career-ending shoulder injury could be looked at as a punchline to a sad franchise still waiting to find its footing in MLB again. No, the team’s not even going to get a fringe prospect from a contender at the trade deadline for their $31 million (2014 buyout included) worth of troubles.
But maybe it’s something else, too.
I’m hesitant to use the blessing-in-disguise card here because there’s really no such thing in having to wait out an albatross contract, let alone one that’s not healthy enough to take the mound; but, maybe this is an opportunity for the Mets to really take their first major step towards transitioning out of the mess that they’d been mired in for so long.
Santana was always going to be the last piece of the puzzle there, and as much as the Mets have done to recover and set the team up to spend a little bit (or a lot) of cash in the coming offseason, they were never really going to do it until the ace lefty’s contract was off the books.
Now, that’s not really happening, of course, but as far as the on-field product goes, it will be.
The 2013 New York Mets are as close to the future version of the team that fans will see, and after Santana returned to thrill the franchise with its first no-hitter, it’s a proper, bittersweet way for the team to finally move on.
You can’t say the team isn’t better without him this season, but they are better off having the certainty that the Santana era is over. That will mean increased roles for folks like Jon Niese, and more pressure for Shaun Marcum to try to earn a multi-year contract after 2013.
With Matt Harvey and future top-of-the rotation help coming in Zack Wheeler, this rotation is going to get pretty good, pretty soon — and now the team might get to see it earlier than expected.
Sure, the Mets won’t be very good in the coming season, but it will be the first season in a long time in which the entire focus can be on moving forward to a brighter future, as opposed to having the lingering shadow of Santana’s health on the mound.