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April 6, 2012

What You Need to Know

Friday, April 6

by Daniel Rathman

The Thursday Takeaway
The Mets have $35 million committed to Jason Bay and $55 million owed to Johan Santana over the next two seasons. If the team is to salvage any value from those ill-fated contracts—either internally or via trade—Bay and Santana must regain their prowess soon. And while Bay’s quiet, 0-for-3 start was nothing to write home about, Santana’s 2012 debut opened some eyes.

Now 33 and coming off a lost season, Santana no longer throws in the mid-90s. His first pitch on Thursday was an 87 mph fastball, and he sat in the upper-80s throughout the afternoon, occasionally reaching back for 90-91. But Santana also proved that he could be effective without premium velocity, tossing five scoreless innings, fanning five and walking two to pave the way for the Mets’ 1-0 win.

The Braves were one of the worst teams in the majors against left-handed pitching last season—combining for a lowly .228/.290/.352 triple slash that represented the second-worst OPS in the league—and general manager Frank Wren did little to bolster his offense this past winter. With that in mind, perhaps Santana’s encouraging effort should be taken with a grain of salt. But for a Mets fan base used to crossing its fingers and expecting the worst, Thursday’s opener provided a much-needed glimmer of hope.

What to Watch for on Friday

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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