The DL Has Exposed This Team
If you watched last night’s game, you know that Santana couldn’t hold onto a 4 run lead and that Mike Baxter interfered with Kirk Nieuwenhuis (hey look! I spelled it right on the first try!) which led to the game winning run.
Santana still has a long way to go until he’s the Santana of old, if he even gets there. Yes, he’s healthy enough to pitch and he can go out there and do it. But his stuff will never be the same and he’s still getting comfortable with his repaired arm. That’s not a criticism or your typical journalistic fear-mongering, it just is. He’s going to have his good days and bad days and yesterday was a bad day. It sucked that he gave it up, but it’s not surprising.
The “Baxter Incident”, as it were, is another growing pain of this team. You’ve got two young outfielders in a pressure situation and they buckled. Part of it is Kirk’s desire to make every play. Recall this weekend in Toronto when he almost ran into Lucas Duda trying to catch a fly ball Duda had lined up. The other part is that these young outfielders have to learn how to communicate out there. Duda safely made the play while Nieuwenhuis tumbled behind him. Baxter thought he had it but couldn’t get out of the way fast enough. It’s something they’ll need to work on moving forward.
So what does the above have to do with the DL? Santana is obvious. He’s still on the road back from it. Regarding the outfielders, Baxter wouldn’t have been out there in the first place had Jason Bay not cracked a rib. You can’t blame Terry Collins for trying to put one of his best bats into the lineup, but with everybody healthy, Baxter is your go-to guy off the bench.
Furthermore, the team may have scored more than four runs if not for the DL. It’s difficult to speculate if Jason Bay would have contributed, but Tejada and Thole are much, much better than Cedeno and Nickeas. No, they’re not superstars. But they’re solid players and tougher outs.
This team needs and has more offense and better defense. It’s just on the sidelines, while the Buffalo Bisons play in their place. The DL exposes how little major league ready talent there is at the top of the system and why this team is at least a year or two off from really contending. You can’t just have an ace pitcher and a few sluggers and expect to win. It takes the entire 40 man roster to contend all season.
Now if only we could figure out Ike Davis…