At the winter meetings last week, an employee from another organization painted a grim prognosis for Johan Santana contributing to the Mets.
I did not dismiss it at the time, but Terry Collins -- really a straight shooter -- has been optimistic about Santana being able to contribute, saying he had spoken to the southpaw, who felt good.
New York Mets
Yet the reality is that Santana is a "question mark," just as Sandy Alderson acknowledged Tuesday.
Mark Prior and Chien-Ming Wang also underwent shoulder surgery for a torn anterior capsule. It didn't end well for Prior, and a diminished Wang took exactly two years to return to the majors.
Still, I've reasoned, if the Mets truly thought Santana was a lost cause, they would have to be more aggressive adding a capable starting pitcher, no? That would make a lot more sense than signing Jon Rauch for $3.5 million.
In light of Alderson's Tuesday comments, I checked back with the person who offered the prediction a week ago, based on specific information, about Santana.
The person replied: "That info is not really new. Mets downplaying of course. Never know with the shoulder. You can throw great, appear 100 percent, but then can't recover to throw again. [Jake] Peavy and [Mark] Mulder are great examples. Resiliency and durability complete unknowns post-shoulder op. Major setbacks and retirement common."
So, Mets fans, hold your breath during spring training. A Santana-less rotation, rather than just a diminished Santana, could be downright scary. Right now it would be R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee and a mystery. The candidates could include right-hander Jeremy Hefner and left-hander Garrett Olson, both of whom were recently acquired.
Santana's velocity dipped from 90 mph to 86-88 mph in his final couple of rehab starts.
Santana, by the way, is owed $24 million in 2012, then $25.5 million in 2013. He also would be owed a $5.5 million buyout of his 2014 option. That's a large percentage of the Mets' shrinking payroll.
ESPNNewYork.com reported in April that Santana's contract is not insured.
UPDATE: Chris Leible, an agent for Santana, tweeted: "@johansantana is currently in the midst of his offseason conditioning in prep for spring training. He expects to be ready for #openingday"