Each Monday, after a week of play and of scouring the major leagues for the best information, Jon Heyman passes along tips on whose stock is up and whose is on the decline.
1. Johan Santana, Mets SP: Santana was no guarantee to be ready to pitch this season with the Mets after shoulder surgery in late 2010. This was a dicey surgery for any pitcher, and the prognosis was unknown. Yet, two months into this season, Santana has proved to be back to his old self already. The ultimate proof came in the most memorable and most impressive pitching performance in Mets history as Santana broke the perplexing streak of 8,019 games without a no-hitter by a franchise rich in pitching history. He did it by hurling one of the more improbable no-hitters in the history of baseball, never mind the New York Mets history.
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Santana showed what kind of stuff he has, but most important, he showed what kind of heart he has in throwing 134 pitches, a career high, with manager Terry Collins worrying all the way. Collins left the call of whether to stay in up to Santana, who, to no surprise, told Collins he would have to rip the ball out of his hands for him to leave (though he said he would take himself out the moment he gave up a hit -- if he did). Collins was in torment over the call, but Santana kept his focus, and his stuff.
Santana's brilliant evening in the 8-0 victory lifted a young team, a 50-year-old franchise and a city that watched with its mouth agape, interested to see whether he could do what Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden and so many other great pitchers could not to -- that is, throw a no-hitter in a Mets uniform. Santana not only threw the no-hitter, he did it against the world champion Cardinals, a team that happened to be leading the league in offense heading into the game, and Santana finished off the achievement in style, whiffing World Series hero David Freese to send a city into delirium.
2. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies OF: The historically slow-starting Rockies needed a lift, and man, did he ever give it to them this week. Gonzalez hits three home runs in one game, four in as many plate appearances and six in a week that helped the Rockies start to turn things around. They've now won six of seven games to at least start to change the story in Denver. As for CarGo, he's among the NL leaders with 14 home runs and 45 RBI to go with a .332 batting average. He also might be the best left fielder in the game. I saw somewhere there was a campaign to get him elected to the All-Star team; heck, if he isn't an All-Star, there shouldn't be an All-Star Game.
3. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins 3B: Ramirez makes it for not only hitting four home runs this week but also for hitting two of them against red-hot Phillies star Cole Hamels, a candidate to make the Bull Market just about any week. Ramirez's teammate Giancarlo Stanton, the National League Player of the Month for May, also was a candidate here. And of course, Ramirez is aided by batting in front of the scariest hitter in the National League. But not even Stanton can hit against Hamels. Give Hanley credit for a lot, for helping the Marlins into a first-place tie, but mostly for embracing the switch to third base. A lot of superstar shortstops wouldn't have handled the forced transfer as well.
1. Carl Pavano, Twins SP: When he was a Yankee, Pavano missed so many starts he was tagged with the unflattering nickname American Idle by New York Post beat writer George King. Now, the Twins might hope for him to be idle. Pavano has been shelled in back-to-back starts, including his last one against the Indians, when he allowed nine hits and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, making it 19 hits and 12 earned runs in eight innings over the two starts. His 8.25 ERA over his past five starts has brought his overall mark up to 6.00, to go with his 2-5 record.
Pavano was due to have an MRI on his shoulder, which might explain the recent goings on. Back in New York, he was knocked out of action by a lot less than a sore shoulder. So perhaps he actually should be given credit for pitching through soreness.
2. Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians SP: The Indians hoped they were getting an ace when they traded four prospects for him at the 2011 trade deadline, but so far he has been anything but that. Conversely, it appears the Rockies knew just when to sell. In dispute with Colorado over its reluctance to give him an ultra-long extension, the Rockies felt they had little choice but to unload the pitcher who had quickly fallen from a No. 1 pitcher to a No. 3 for them. Well, in Cleveland lately, he looks like a No. 5. He now has walked 42 batters compared to only 33 strikeouts. He has been particularly woeful lately, allowing 20 runs in 20 1/3 innings during his past four starts. Fortunately for him, Indians hitters are supporting him, and he is 2-2 during that span. Let's see how long his new bosses support him pitching like this.
3. Brennan Boesch, Tigers OF: The Tigers have been disappointing on a number of fronts. But perhaps their biggest downfall has been the play of their young players. Stars Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera are holding up their end of the bargain, but the home-grown Tigers aren't adding much, resulting in a dreary start. Boesch is 2 for his past 28 at a time several other Tigers are underperforming, as well. His slump is the worst, however.