The Johan Santana deal for the Baltimore Orioles may prove to be a great event before the 2014 season is all done. The former two-time Cy Young winner may well regain his form and contribute in a significant way. What are the chances? Nobody really knows. In my mind, I would confess to this being about a one-in-four, or one-in-three chance of actually happening.
But there may be some other reasons why this Johan Santana signing could be a stroke of genius for the Orioles organization. The Venezuelan is a big hero in his home country – especially so to the family of rising minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. This explains the instragram picture that Rodriguez impulsively sent out upon the TOTAL THRILL of meeting this national baseball treasure from his homeland.
From Roch Kubatko’s MASN blog, he reported the young man as saying, “When I was young, my father every time would tell me about him. He’d say, ‘Hey, he’s the best player in baseball. He’s the best player from Venezuela.’ He was my favorite player for all my life.”
“When I saw him here, I go (wipes eyes). I talked to him and I told him, ‘When I was young, my father told me that you were the best and you were my favorite player.’ He said, ‘Oh, I’m excited about that. Thank you.’”
“It’s a great opportunity with the Orioles and a great opportunity for me. He can tell me about his pitches, like how to throw his changeup in situations. That’s good for me. He can help me.”
Folks … that is totally awesome stuff! Santana is going to need a couple of months to put it together before any chance of making it to the Orioles. So why not put him with Rodriguez and let the young man have eight weeks of mentoring by his hero and fellow countryman Johan Santana? That would probably mean pitching in AA Bowie, which is perfect in every way.
I’m not sure this is worth $3 million, but it is worth a whole lot more than nothing!
This “older teaching the younger” dynamic is a great part of a healthy clubhouse. It is a part of the culture brought to the Orioles by Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter. Remember the scenes at the end of the 2012 season with Jim Thome in the dugout talking with young players, swinging a bat, gesturing toward the field, and in every way serving as a mentor for younger guys? There had to be lasting value in that. I’ll bet Chris Davis would jump positively all over that question were it asked of him.
So, for what it is worth, I’m more stoked about the signing from this point of view than anything, and if Johan Santana makes it to the mound for the Orioles in 2014, that will just be a bonus.