The Mets spent their winter break signing tenth-string catchers Coste and Blanco and let a more competent catcher like Funky Cold Molina re-sign with the Giants. As a result, Santos will now be expected to handle the pitching staff of Johan Santana and The Four Rainouts as well as performing a few Omir-acles of his own at the plate.
Can he be counted on to repeat his unexpected 2009 performance this year now that more is expected from him? Let's take a look inside the Studious Metsimus Stat Box and pick out some juicy numbers.
In 2008, Omir Santos was called up to the major leagues by the Baltimore Orioles for some coffee and donuts. Since they used peppermint in his coffee (trust me when I say it's a bad combination), he bid adieu to Baltimore and said hello to the Mets. It was in New York that he got his huge break when Brian Schneider got injured, forcing the Mets to call him up to be a part of the Not Ready For Prime Time (Baseball) Players.
However, something happened on the way to the 7 train. On a team full of fragile players and David K. Wright (the K stands for "why the fudge did you strike out so much in 2009?"), Omir blossomed into a pretty decent (and clutch) hitter.
On May 23, Santos hit the most dramatic home run of the 2009 season (some might say the only dramatic home run of the 2009 season, but my name isn't "some") when he hit a two-out, two-run HR in the ninth inning off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. The umpires originally called the shot a double off the Green Monster, but video replay showed that the ball went over the wall and bounced back onto the field of play. To be honest with you, I thought the ball was called a double at first because the umpires couldn't believe it was Omir Santos who hit the home run and not a genuine power threat like...
Okay, let's be honest with ourselves. The umpires couldn't believe a Met hit a home run off ANYONE. Jonathan Papelbon was so upset that he gave up a home run to a Met that he immediately punched himself in the crotch. (see photo below)
Santos continued his success after Papelbon's "Crotch Heard 'Round The World" by finishing the 2009 season with a .260 batting average, seven HR and 40 RBI in 291 at-bats. Will that translate into a better season in 2010 if he gets the 400 at-bats usually reserved for a #1 catcher?
Unfortunately, looking at his minor league stats, the answer might be no. In 2,229 career at-bats for various minor league teams, Santos could only manage a .258 average, with 32 HR and 260 RBI. He hit .260 for the Mets after not being able to do that against MINOR LEAGUE PITCHING in his eight-plus years toiling in Buttsburg, Wyoming and Fartsville, Wisconsin (although the cheese being cut in Fartsville by the Wisconsin cheeseheads is quite aromatic).
Can the Mets expect more Omir-acles from Santos in 2010? Probably not. They don't play the Red Sox this season and due to the lack of catching depth on the team, there's very little chance he'll get sent back to Wisconsin to play for Count Flatula. If Santos repeats his seven HR, 40 RBI performance in 400 at-bats, that should be considered a success for him. But I'm not counting on it.
The Mets would be better off signing a more experienced catcher who can do well with a pitching staff that can be quite erratic at times. (see Maine, J. and Perez, O.) Given 400 at-bats, any catcher can hit seven HR and drive in 40 runs. But with the problems the Mets could have with their starting pitchers, it may be more important to go with a catcher who can help the Mets more with his handling of pitchers than with his handling of the bat. If the Mets give that much playing time to Omir Santos, they'd better hope he can handle the Four Rainouts portion of Johan Santana and The Four Rainouts. If he can't, the band might not get another gig at Citi Field.