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Mets Will Be Fine With Santos as a Starter

By Jed Weisberger ~ February 5th, 2010. Filed under: New York Mets.

Forgotten through much of the winter, Mets catcher Omir (Pito) Santos has survived the “Great Bengie Molina Chase.’’

And from the opinion heard from several Mets fans, apparently you wanted nothing to do with Molina anyway.

So let Santos, 29, along with backstop partner Henry Blanco, use their capabilities to handle the pitching staff, bat eighth, get some key hits and drive in a few key runs.  In all seriousness, the Mets could certainly be worse off than these two.

Certainly a power-hitting catcher would give the lineup a boost, but with the way the Mets are set up, the catcher doesn’t have to be counted on to be a big RBI guy.  The key is for the backstop to just do his job, and Santos can certainly keep the seat warm for Josh Thole or other prospects down the road.

I say this about the Bayamon, P.R., native because I watched him on an everyday basis for several seasons when he was in the Yankees system. He’s a good guy to have in the clubhouse, the pitchers do like throwing to him and he knows what is going on in the game.

His defensive skills were solid as he worked his way through Class-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. There were some three-hit games and a key home run here and there.  Overall, however, lack of offensive consistency held Santos back in a system rich in catching prospects.

Finding a job in the Baltimore system, Santos earned a cup of coffee at the end of 2008 with the Orioles.  He was just 1-of-10 for Baltimore, and then hooked up with the Mets for 2009. After just three games with Triple-A Buffalo, he came to the Mets April 17, and hit the first grand-slam in Citi Field history 10 days later.

Santos filled the bill, appearing in 96 games, batting a more-than-respectable .260 (73-for-281), with seven homers and 40 RBIs.

Defensively, in his 91 starts behind the plate, Santos committed just three errors and had just a trio of passed balls.  Given a chance, earning a spot on the Topps All-Rookie Team, the man showed he can play at the big-league level if needed.

Really he’s the kind of player a fan can enjoy watching and pulling for. Is he most talented member of the roster?  Of course not.  Is he another Gary Carter or Mike Piazza? Certainly not.

What Santos is, however, is what any team needs – a player who just enjoys the game and is glad he got a chance to do his job.

The Mets do have a few younger catchers, the most advanced is Thole, in their system.  Francisco Pena hopes to put it together at Class A Advanced St.Lucie after two seasons at Class A Savannah of the South Atlantic League.  Pena just turned 20 and received a spring-training invitation.

Nelfi Zapata, who could play at Brooklyn this summer – after batting .261 (31-for-119) with the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2009 – is a power-hitting prospect, while some are high on Dock Doyle, 24, who reached St. Lucie last season, but is just learning the rudiments of calling a game.

At the moment, however, the Mets will certainly be OK with Santos.

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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

5 Responses to Mets Will Be Fine With Santos as a Starter

  1. Dan

    “Certainly a power-hitting catcher would give the lineup a boost, but with the way the Mets are set up, the catcher doesn’t have to be counted on to be a big RBI guy. ”

    Right, because as things stand they’re so likely to score so many more runs than the teams they’re playing against.

  2. Craig

    The pitchers like throwing to him? I’ve only heard just the opposite… from Manuel, Warthen, for example. And I keep hearing that the pitchers did want Molina. I also think you are overrating this offense, which is only going to struggle more without Beltran. I don’t think it’ll be a bad offense once Beltran comes back, but i’m not sure yet how effective it will be. A lot is riding on Frenchy and Murphy, for Beltran to come back soon and strong, and for no other injuries to take place. I think this offense will be walking a fine line from being potentially strong and potentially in trouble. Adding another bat or two (Hudson?) could’ve helped.

  3. Steven

    There is a reason why the guy has been a minor leaguer his whole career. And I have heard what Crag said, that the pitching staff does NOT like throwing to him. If you watch the game you can tell that he is an awful receiver of pitches. With our lineup full of other question marks (Pagan, Castillo, Murphy) it would be nice to have a MAJOR LEAGUE catcher to play in 120 games and let Blanco, a career backup, do exactly that and catch the rest of the games.

  4. oleosmirf

    you can put Gary Carter (in his prime) behind the plate, you cannot win with this current rotation no matter how many runs they score…

  5. Steve

    C’mon fans, aren’t you embarrassed by this ownership? Do you really think they can put together a world championship team (or even one that can win the division)? What happened to all the Met fans out there that cared? I’m shocked at how many people are happy about .260 hitters and a bunch of fifth starters – you will get exactly what you asked for…a fourth place team….Look at CNN Si today, John Heyman has the Mets at the top of the list for the worst spent winter… Another comparison: look at a real classy and winning organization, the New Jersey Devils. Although at the top (or near top) of the East, they pulled off a trade for the best scorer in hockey! Of course when the Mets are managing to do well, they would never think of continuing to improve, and that is why they will always be a second class organization. Sorry, after 35 years I’ve realized this ownership is minor league!

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