Sunday, July 15, 2012


In entirely unsurprising yet still disappointing news this morning, the Blue Jays announced that would-be closer Sergio Santos would miss the remainder of the season, after experiencing more shoulder discomfort following a rehab throwing session.

Jays fans got to see all of five regular-season innings from Santos, and in total, the converted infielder has still only pitched 120 innings in his big-league career.  Santos is still largely unknown to a great many fans, but his absence this season still hurts – his eye-popping numbers with the White Sox last season and the electric stuff he displayed when healthy are the sorts of things you can dream on.

A few thoughts on Santos, scrawled out as I watch the Jays take on the team against whom he made his final 2012 appearance, the Cleveland Indians:

Mike Sirotka 2.0?

Well, no.  Not really.  This comparison has come up over and over again, and it’s been troublesome to me.  The idea that the Jays bought “damaged goods” when they shipped prospect porn star Nestor Molina to Chicago to get Santos doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny or basic logic.

The reason we all remember the Mike Sirotka deal was precisely because it was so out of the ordinary, requiring the Commissioner of Major League Baseball to weigh in as the final arbiter.  Bud Selig pointed out at the time of ruling on the Sirotka deal that it’s up to teams to get the information they need on players before acquiring them:  “I hope that all club executives will take from this dispute a renewed awareness of their obligations under the caveat emptor rule.”  One of the things that fans have come to appreciate about Alex Anthopoulos in his term as Blue Jays General Manager is that he does his homework.  He doesn’t strike me as the type who would fail to do all the necessary checking to ensure the player he was acquiring was healthy.

John Farrell told the media today that it was in Santos’ season debut, against Kansas City, in which he first felt the shoulder pain that would eventually sideline him.  Yes, managers have been known to lie to the media before, and the way Santos was hidden from view during Spring Training may give the more suspicious among us reason to wonder whether the pain might have been present a little earlier.  But if Santos was in fact injured prior to the season, what benefit has there been, or is there now, in saying otherwise?  Saving face is about the only reason I can muster, but all things considered, I prefer to take Farrell and the organization at their word.

(Addendum to this after originally posting:  Santos signed a contract extension with the White Sox after the 2011 season as well, discussed below. Hard to imagine they'd commit guaranteed money to a pitcher if they knew he had a shoulder problem.  Hat tip to Mike Wilner and John Lott on Twitter for reminding me and everyone else about that.)

Dolla dolla bills y’all

Besides, Santos is far from a lost cause for the Blue Jays.  We’ve already seen how critical it is to have a stable of capable bullpen arms, and Santos should still be one when he’s healthy again, for a very reasonable price.  Even if his arm falls off in surgery, the Jays would only be on the hook for the price they paid to get him (Molina) plus $7.25 million – $6.75 million over the next two seasons, and $750K to buy out one of the three club options for 2015, 2016 and 2017 (as always, via the invaluable Cot's Baseball Contracts powered by Baseball Prospectus).

That 2013-2014 salary is less than the Jays will be paying Casey Janssen, who picked up ninth-inning duties (eventually) in Santos’ place and has been nothing short of outstanding.  Yet Janssen got that money when he was signed as a set-up guy, not a CAPITAL C CLOSER.  In a chat with the Tao during lunch last week, we agreed that a contract like that of Santos fits in almost anywhere in the back end of a bullpen.

All this considered, there’s still reason to be optimistic about seeing Sergio Santos striking batters out in the late innings in a Blue Jays uniform in April 2013.  Put a candle in your window.

No comments: