Matt Harvey’s Injury And “The Plan”

This is an old song, but Met fans are conditioned. “Hope for the best, expect the worst,” goes the mantra, at least since Carlos Beltran stapled a bat to his shoulder in October, 2006. We all knew this one was too good to last, didn’t we? Matt Harvey – the bellwether of the young pitching staff, the advance guard, the herald that was serving notice to the rest of baseball that the Mets were coming, baby, so you’d better be ready – has been diagnosed with a partial UCL tear in his pitching arm and will likely require Tommy John surgery. Harvey injuryHe had been pitching so well, comparisons were made to a young Tom Seaver, and not just in athletic ability. There was a famous Sports Illustrated article, extolling the virtues of his near-flawless motion, almost an iron-clad guarantee against arm trouble. He came right over the top. None of this “inverted ‘W’ business – that which will more than likely sideline Zack Wheeler at some point – for Matt Harvey, thank you very much. The mechanics, the body type, the poise…all ideal traits in this young pitcher.

And he got hurt.

Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, Harvey, the rest of the team and the fans received cold comfort from Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who invented the TJ procedure: “Sometimes, this stuff just happens.” Despite the pathological need for human beings to assign blame in a situation like this, there is no easy scapegoat to be found here. Collins and Alderson had gone to great pains all season long to harness Harvey’s natural inclination to just pitch, man. It wasn’t like they left him out there to throw 134 pitches for a shot at history. It wasn’t that they were trying to extend a World Series to a Game 6. There was nothing untoward that would have led to the swelling of Harvey’s forearm. For the philosophically or metaphysically thinking among us, this latest round of bad luck – an updated version of the ‘60s lament “same ol’ Mets” – can only be penance for picking Seaver out of a hat, for Ron Swoboda’s catch, for the ball-on-the-wall play, for Bill Buckner, for the last month of the 1999 season. If you think about it, the Mets, up through 2006, have had a more than “normal” – i.e. “non-Yankee” – share of good luck. In the aftermath of the Harvey news, it takes every fiber of this Met fan’s being to wax so philosophically and it’s hard to listen to even a respected scribe try and talk us off the ledge. As someone on Twitter said yesterday, “Hey, Baseball Gods, that’s a **** move.”

The main takeaway from all this, of course, is that now “the plan” needs to shift. All season long – a look-see year in which all positions other than starting pitcher were to be evaluated so off-season resources could be optimally allocated – we fans were told to look to next year, the year when it would all coalesce. In the wake of Harvey’s forearm, all the hope that had been revving up for 2014 must now be funneled to no earlier than 2015, thus buying the Wilpons time to reorganize their finances yet again and retain control of the franchise. This will give them another excuse to squeeze that nickel until Thomas Jefferson screams: why spend money to try and contend when the biggest, most prominent cog in the machine will be missing? So 2014 will see David Wright come off his own injury a year older and no closer to the post-season than he was in 2009, another prime year drowned in a sea of misfortune and frugality. It’s a shame that Wright will be thought of the same way as Ernie Banks or Ralph Kiner: a Hall-worthy player who never got a chance at a ring.

There’s the plan, in pieces.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

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6 comments for “Matt Harvey’s Injury And “The Plan”

  1. Metsense
    August 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Why wait for 2015? Wheeler, Niese, Gee, Mejia and Montero is a credible starting rotation. Syndergaard and deGrom is nice 2014 rotation insurance. The change is in the plan, less trade chips so there is more need to find value in the free agent market. There is $40M coming off in salary and it needs to be wisely reinvested. There are no guarantees and there aren’t any sure fire plans ( see 2013, Nats, Giants and Blue Jays) . Sandy needs to give it his best effort for a successful 2014. He has to put a competitive team on the field and see how far they can go.

    • Chris F
      August 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Sure, there are many many holes. I dont even see 15 as really likely. Wheeler wont be fully stretched out, and certainly not Montero. Add in the typical Mets pitching injuries. Syndergaard and deGrom also facing inning limits. ’15 we can hope for. Sandy get 2 winter meetings to get this solved.

      • August 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm

        So that would make it year 7 of Sandy’s 5-year plan. Again: cold comfort…

        • Chris F
          August 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

          Theres no comfort at all Charlie. Weve already been told the plan is “delayed”. Whats the first year our full staff will be stretched for a full season including post season (pending no further injury)?

          Niese now
          Gee now
          Wheeler ’15
          Mejia ’15? ’16?
          Harvey ’16
          Syndergaard ’16
          Montero ’16+?
          deGrom ’16+?

          Without bringing in pitching, the home grown path is a ways off.

  2. August 27, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    With so many pitchers getting injured on this staff can you speculate why that is? Is it mechanics? Are the pitchers putting to much strain with a certain pitch? 2014 was going to be another year to continue building the foundation. Now you can just turn the page and go to 2015 because SA is not going to sign any significant FA this off season. Met fans were not only optimistic but they came out to watch Harvey pitch because they knew his effort would be worth the price of admission. I think the Wilpons are wondering what did they do wrong to have the baseball gods so angry at them.

  3. Sean Flattery
    August 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I don’t think its as dire as you lay it out, but this injury is a punch to the gut…I still say hearing “the Plan” is still better than former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum saying “the Process”

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