Although it’s 75 degrees in Port St. Lucie right now, Omir Santos must feel like he’s being left out in the cold after Rod Barajas agreed to a one-year $1 million deal with the Mets. Pending the results of a physical, Barajas is due in Mets camp today.
The move essentially pushes Santos from Mets starter to backup behind Josh Thole in Triple-A Buffalo. It’s the epitome of how things can work in the majors. One day, you’re in Buffalo catching pitchers who will never make it to the Big Show. The next, you’re taking your first Big League swing in front of 40,000 people.
Baseball players know how fickle the game can be. It still doesn’t lessen the sting when you’re back playing in front of a thousand people.
It’s not that Santos doesn’t deserve to stay in the majors. Last season, he acquitted himself amicably and had some big moments. He became a fan favorite among many in a season when there wasn’t much to root for.
Santos wasn’t an offensive powerhouse. He hit seven home runs last season, but two were huge. His first was a grand slam last April against the Marlins. The second was a two-run shot and the game winner against Jonathan Papelbon at Fenway Park.
His batting average was a mediocre .260, while driving in 40 and crossing home plate 28 times. He only played in 96 games. Had he been the starter all year, his numbers, save for his batting average, surely would’ve been better. He was just as good or even better than Brian Schneider, who had nine home runs, 38 RBI and a .257 batting average in 2008 when he was healthy enough to play in 110 games.
You can’t blame the Mets for wanting to upgrade the catcher position. It’s been a weakness for the Mets offensively since the days of Mike Piazza. Barajas should bring that power, if not production, back to the backstop position. If his 19 home runs last season are any indication, the acquisition of Barajas is a no-brainer.
It sucks for Santos, but don’t feel too sorry for him. He got to play on one of the biggest stages in baseball. And my hunch is he’ll back at some point. With how the Mets are with injuries, I could see Santos back in Flushing. All it takes is a DL stint for Henry Blanco or Barajas for the Mets to call Santos back up. Sure they could choose Thole, instead, but they also might want to keep him in the minors to get more seasoning. Plus, they know Santos can do the job.
So, until then, Santos will continue to plug away and wait for his shot, just like he did before.