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Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner and updated playoff odds

Should we kick off each week with a Monday Spadafore-style entry? I don't know. But I felt like it last week, and I feel like it this week.

NewsJohan Santana suffers a career-worst night, as the Mets blow a 5-2 lead and get hammered by the Phillies.

Views: I wrote a late column on Santana, although, to be frank, there wasn't much wisdom to impart/fake. As many Mets said, "It is what it is." 

His velocity was actually up a tick last night from the eyebrow-raising levels in his previous starts. Of course, his previous starts had largely been excellent, whereas Santana looked absolutely lost last night in the Phillies' nine-run fourth.

I remember last year, during this game, Oliver Perez set off sirens by issuing a bases-loaded walk to Jamie Moyer. But that was Ollie. For Santana to do that? Wow.

Santana of course has earned the benefit of the doubt, but the bigger question now is how the Mets look these next three nights in Cincinnati, with Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese going out there. They looked punch-drunk late last night as they packed their things for the flight. Will they be able to wake up against a very beatable Reds team?

For my first-edition column, meanwhile, I wrote that the Mets should consider signing Pedro Martinez. Thanks to whynot for the idea.

It's not gonna happen. The Mets feel like they've been there and done that, while conversely, the Phillies absolutely loved their Pedro experience last year and have been talking with him about another second-half arrival.

But if the Mets offered Pedro enough money - $2 million? Maybe $3 million? - and put on a personal recruitment, perhaps they could change his mind. He sure seemed like he had something left last year.

And if the Mets can actually pull off a bigger trade for someone like Kevin Millwood or Roy Oswalt? Well, the Phillies last year traded for Cliff Lee in addition to signing Pedro. The Mets might very well need two starting pitchers in order to stay in contention, particularly if they insist on leaving Jenrry Mejia is his current, crucial mop-up man role, rather than grooming him to be a starter.

NewsPhil Hughes dominates the White Sox.

Views: If you're gonna point out that Brian Cashman's 2009-10 offseason has been pretty disastrous so far, as we discussed yesterday, then you also need to credit the Yankees' GM for having the patience to stick with Hughes, going back to not trading him for Santana in the 2007-08 offseason.

Hughes absolutely looks like a frontline starting pitcher. A playoff starter. You have to figure that the Yankees will announce as soon as today that Hughes will start Friday night's series opener at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, with Javier Vazquez skipping a turn. And what Yankees fan isn't stoked, rather than concerned, about that matchup?

NewsBrett Gardner has a big game Sunday, his first starting in centerfield in place of the injured Curtis Granderson.

ViewsGardner has steadily improved as an offensive player. He always has displayed an ability to work the count, but look at his 2008: Eight walks and 30 strikeouts in 141 plate appearances. Ultimately, with two strikes, pitchers weren't afraid to challenge Gardner, and they often succeeded.

Now? Gardner has those same eight walks to go against just nine strikeouts in 83 plate appearances.

Small samples, indeed. But you have to like Gardner's trend lines. And you also have to like the preseason bet that Gardner will still be a Yankees everyday player by Game 61. I hope Jim isn't spending too wildly nowadays.

A further thought on Gardner: The Yankees selected him in the third round of the 2005 amateur draft. It was Damon Oppenheimer's first draft for the Yankees, and his first two picks, C.J. Henry and J.B. Cox, fizzled, although Henry at least served as a required warm body in the 2006 Bobby Abreu trade.

With Gardner continuing to excel, those earlier picks become somewhat moot. If your draft produces an everyday outfielder, then it's an acceptable draft.

--Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez sat out, and Joe Girardi - who has mostly kicked this habit - reverted to some football-coach-ish silliness concerning whether A-Rod was injured.

The point isn't, "Girardi needs to be nicer to the media!" You don't care about that, and frankly, neither do I. The point is, "Why is he wasting time/brain space arguing these points?" If Cashman - the guy who hired Girardi - is saying that A-Rod hurt his right leg, then Girardi should just go along with it.

--Mark Teixeira is hitting again, now that April has concluded.

News: Here are your updated playoff odds, from CHONE.

Views: Yes, yes, this is just the math. It doesn't profess to be perfect. CHONE doesn't know which pitcher is hiding an injury and about to go on the disabled list, or which clubhouse is coming apart at the seams. It just factors in this season's performances, career performances and strength of schedule. At least, I think that's what it does.

I found it interesting that the Red Sox don't rank that far behind the Rays, and also that the Braves still get much love, and the Giants so little love.

At times like these, it's always helpful to see where teams stood at this point last year. If you scroll down, you see that three of the four NL playoff teams - the Phillies, Cardinals and Dodgers - in fact went onto qualify, whereas the fourth eventual playoff team, the Rockies, were a lowly 9-14. In the AL, only the Red Sox proceeded to the postseason, and the Twins (12-13) and Angels (10-13) both had losing records.

--Thanks to my partner in crime, Twitter, for the links to the playoff odds post and Alex Speier's excellent Red Sox analysis. I'll check in tonight from Orioles-Yankees.





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