Santana, Mets reach mega-deal

I need to get off topic and address this: I am not a fan of the New York Mets by any means, but growing up near Shea Stadium, I saw more than my fair share of games there while growing up, and covered them some for ESPN SportsTicker some 10 years ago.

They've never -- and I mean never -- had a true ace in his prime. Yes, this includes, Seaver, Koosman and Gooden, as far as I am concerned.

Proof, you say? After turning 30, Seaver had only two 20-win seasons out of 12. Koosman won 20 just once for New York in 1976 -- three seasons later, he would do if again for the Minnesota Twins after they acquired him for Jesse Orosco.

Gooden ... well, if you can overlook the drug issues, he won 24 in 1985, but never eclipsed 20 in 14 seasons after that. A sure-fire Hall of Famer when he broke into the big leagues, he finished with a career record of 194-112 with a 3.51 ERA and fewer than 2,300 strikeouts.

Sure, there was Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez. They had Scott Kazmir -- exiled to the Tampa Bay Rays in a deal that one day will match trading away Nolan Ryan on the 'Duh' scale.

But now there's Johan Santana, apparently on the verge of signing the richest contract ever for a pitcher to join the Amazin's: $137.50 million over six years with an option that can boost it to $150.75 million.

He's left-handed. He turns 29 this year. He's a two-time AL Cy Young Award winner. He's won both his career starts at Shea while posting a ridiculously miniscule 0.60 ERA.

Did I mention he's left-handed?

But besides being the most famous New York baseball player to don No. 57 since Steve Howe, there is a caveat. The Mets have to hope they're not getting the Santana who uncharacteristically faltered in the second half last season when he went 5-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 15 starts.

In the second half of 2006, he was 10-1 with a 2.54 ERA. The year before, 9-2 with a 1.59 ERA. In 2004, he didn't lose after the break: 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA with a .154 opponent batting average.

History has shown mega-deals for pitchers don't always pan out. Ask Mike Hampton. Ask Kevin Brown. The jury is still out on Barry Zito, who was 11-13 with 4.53 ERA last year after signing a seven-year, $126 million deal that will turn out to be more of an albatross around the San Francisco Giants' necks than anything from Barry Bonds.

The Mets gave up four prospects, none of whom were of the "must-keep" variety to acquire Santana. After collapsing down the stretch last season, coughing up a 7 1/2-game lead in the final weeks, this was a deal they needed to make if for nothing else than to forget that sickening feeling.


1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: Lundqvist stopped 33 shots in the Rangers' 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, New York's fifth in a row over its cross-river rivals this season. The Rangers have won four of their last five, allowing only five goals.

2. Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, New York Rangers: Gomez and Drury each recorded their 500th career points in the win over the Devils. New York inked these two as free agents from the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey, respectively, for a combined $86.75 million in July.

3. Dominik Hasek, Detroit Red Wings: Three days after turning 43, the six-time Vezina Trophy winner needed to make only 15 saves for his 80th career shutout in in the Red Wings' 2-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Hasek needs six wins to move past Mike Vernon into 10th place all-time.

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