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Friday February 19, 2010 10:19 am

Santana claims he’s best in the NL East




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Editorial, MLB,

Johan SantanaIs there anything worse than a cocky athlete? When Mets ace Johan Santana was asked who he thought the best pitcher in the National League East was, he took a moment to “think” about his answer before saying, “Santana… simple.” Not only is that a slap in the face to the other teams in his division, but also to his teammates like Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Francisco Rodriquez. Of course fans want the best players to play on their team, they just don’t want those players to say they’re the best.

Santana’s “simple” answer comes on the heels of reigning NL East champion Philadelphia’s recent acquisition of former Jays ace and Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. Santana doesn’t seem to think the 32-year old righty will be any threat to him or his team in 2010. Halladay made mincemeat out of the best teams in the toughest division in baseball over the last decade, so Santana’s smugness might be wiped off his face as a rude awakening may be in his future.

Last season the Mets finished 89-73; three games back of Philadelphia in the East and one back of Milwaukee for the Wild Card. If Santana hopes to take his team into the playoffs, he’s going to have to do more than just think he’s the best pitcher in his division. He’ll have to prove it every five days. The problem with that is that the Mets have a lot more to worry about than Santana thinks. Who will be their first baseman? Who is their catcher? How much pitching depth do they have? First-place Philadelphia has only got better this offseason, so the Mets have to play an even better game of catch-up.

Nobody wants to see a cocky athlete. They want him to fall hard and fast. The reality that a player can make millions of dollars is bad enough; and the fact that Santana is making over $20 million per season on a New York team that plays second-fiddle in just about every way is almost inexcusable. Sure, Santana’s numbers over his career (especially 2004 and 2006) have almost justified a cocky attitude. Almost. But with his arm surgery last September, it’s definitely too early to be calling him the best pitcher in the NL East. Let’s see him prove it in April.

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