Doctor My Eyes

Surely, he has to see it.

Surely, someone has put stat sheets from last year and this year in front of Twins' manager Rod Gardenhire, pointed to the line next to Johan Santana and said, "Hey, this guy looks pretty good".

"Yeah, well, we have 5 other guys who are pretty good, too."

Maybe so, but not this good, guys.  And it's not even close.

Looking only at his statistics as a starter, Santana's ERA was almost a full run better than anyone else on the staff.  Only Rick Reed's 3.80 was within one run of Santana's 3.13.  In fact, only 7 starters in the entire American League with at least 10 starts had a better ERA last season.  Only 5 regular starters - Pedro Martinez, Barry Zito, Roy Halladay, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield - had a better average game score than Santana.  Yes, Santana was a more effective starter than Bartolo Colon, Jamie Moyer, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Jarrod Washburn, Mark Mulder, etc, etc.  In fact, one has to scroll down the list 13 more names before one gets to the next Minnesota Twin.  And only Pedro Martinez had a better strikeout rate.

And these numbers aren't fluky; he was doing this in the minors last year before being called up.  Had he not been rushed to the majors in 2000, he would have been doing this in the minors for the last four years.  In 2001, the Twins thought it would be better for him to learn his craft in a major league bullpen despite never having pitched above A ball.  They sent him down to AAA to open last season before injuries to their starters forced them to call him back-up.

But forget the past.  One only has to look at the current starting situation of the Twins and wonder that even if they think last year's success was a mirage, surely Santana could do better than average little more than 5 innings per start and an ERA of 6.85, which is exactly what they're getting from Joe Mays, Brad Radke and Rick Reed.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have Santana give his team an average of 8 innings per week as opposed to just 2 or 3?  Seriously.  Does it make sense to put Barry Zito in middle relief because "it makes their bullpen better" if the starting pitching can't keep the other team from winning the games in the first 5 innings?  Is your pitching staff better by making Pedro Martinez the third option out of the bullpen?  Of course not.  But this is exactly what the Twins are doing.

One has to wonder if they think they are playing in some fantasy league where there's a benefit for starting the season slowly.

"Hey, Rod, we have the sixth worst record in the American League, but we're only a couple losses away from finishing the month with the third worst.  Don't think we're gonna catch Detroit, but we should still be able to get one of the first few picks out of the free agent pool, dontcha' think?"

Surely, he has to see it.