Matt Harvey and hope for the New Year

matt-harvey22014 is six days away. Spring training isn’t far beyond that, and when April rolls around, anticipation will begin for the new baseball season. In the past two winters, hope was a missing word from most Mets fans vocabularies. One can’t have much hope when the discussion is all about how much playing time Mike Baxter was going to get in the outfield and who Colin Cowgil was. Hope didn’t exactly spring eternal with the signing of Frank Francisco in 2011 or with the fact that in 2012 the Mets traded the reigning Cy Young award winner in R.A. Dickey for a group of players that were, at best, going to have a minimal impact in 2013. In fact, the most effective free agent signee prior to the 2013 offseason was Marlon Byrd, an outfielder signed on a minor league contract by Sandy Alderson as a favor, not exactly a banner move that made the fan base yearn for the new year. Hope was utterly absent when we all watched Jose Reyes walk away to the Marlins with nary an attempt by the front office to either bring him back, or at least trade him for a prospect.

Yet, as this new year comes, Mets fans have optimism. A lot of the anti-Alderson mongering has ceased (yours truly included in that one). Yes, talks have occurred about trading away some of our players for prospects, but unlike with Dickey, it doesn’t feel like a foregone conclusion. In fact, if I had to place bets right now, I’d say Daniel Murphy is again a key member of our team next year. When the offseason started last year, I had no such feelings about Dickey. On top of that, many of us have changed our opinions from derision at the front office’s moves (Francisco, trading Angel Pagan for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres) to expectation that the moves will be handled with aplomb and will further bolster the club in the near and long term future.

So where does all of this optimism come from? Some would say Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young, but that is really only part of the answer. For my part, the feelings I have of excited anticipation come partly from the new additions, partly from the young players that will play an important role next year, like Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud, Zack Wheeler, Vic Black and so on, and partly from Matt Harvey.

Yes, Harvey is not going to play in 2014. No, I haven’t forgotten that he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery. But it’s exactly that fact, that Harvey isn’t playing and coming back in 2015, that gives me hope.

Harvey was the man last year and he won’t be this year, yet no one talks about the rotation as being a problem for next year. How many other teams can say that? If the Yankees lost C.C. Sabathia, would there be positive feelings about next year? How about if Jon Lester, Justin Verlander, Felix Rodriguez or Clayton Kershaw were lost for a year due to injury? The Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees and Dodgers are more than likely expected to contend for playoff spots next year, and the Mariners, with the signing of Robinson Cano and other moves, will probably be a sleeper candidate for a lot of people heading into next year. Yet, if any of those players were lost, all that would be talked about would be the huge hole left behind and how the rotation was now a question mark with the ace of the staff gone.

Yet when discussion of the Mets occurs, the rotation is considered a strong point. Colon was an excellent signing, but when in history was a 40 year old starting pitcher the answer when a 24 going on 25 year old phenom is the person he’s replacing? For the Mets, that’s the case. Why? Because of all of the pitching the team already has on the roster and all of the young pitching that’s a step away in the minor leagues. With Jacob DeGrom and Raphael Montero waiting in the wings, as well as the chance that Noah Syndergaard will be making his norse debut sometime during the year (a la Wheeler from last year), the Mets fan hasn’t sat back and said, “We don’t have Harvey, we have no chance”. In fact, it’s been the opposite. With the signings to the outfield, with the acquisition of Colon, with the fact that the Mets name has been mentioned as being involved with Stephen Drew and even as a potential destination for Kendrys Morales on a team friendly, short term deal if he can’t get a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Mets fan is now saying, “Hey, maybe this team can be in the conversation for a wild card berth in 2014.” Now, instead of waiting for 2015 to get us to that point, the Mets fan is looking at 2015 as something much more significant.

For the first time in a long time, the upcoming baseball season seems to have more than just malaise attached to it. Harvey’s injury and the news that he will miss the entire year, should have left the Mets fan in the doldrums, but it hasn’t. I for one look at Harvey as the future harbinger of success. If things work out as I feel they will, this team will be competitive this coming year and we’ll be looking at the 2014 offseason as the one where the Mets add that last missing piece to the puzzle to put them over the top, because that player, along with Harvey and whatever discoveries have come to us during the 2014 season, will make 2015 one of the most anticipated seasons in a long time.

I hope that this happens and of course, it would be foolish not to acknowledge that 2014 could be as bad as 2012 and 2013. So yes, seven months from now I could be writing another post talking about the debacle that is the Mets and wondering why I’m still a fan. But my gut tells me different. Let’s hope that’s right and not just the remnants of eating too much food over Christmas and Thanksgiving. We’ll see, but unlike during the past two years, I’m really looking forward to what will be on the field to look at and cheer for, Harvey or no Harvey.

12 comments for “Matt Harvey and hope for the New Year

  1. royhobbs7
    December 26, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Hope for the New Year? I hope the Mets win 100 games this year and win the World Series. I have wished that for every year since 1967. However, the makeup of this present team is full of holes. The starting pitching sans Harvey is still pretty good. However, the present lineup as it stands is horrific. It may be the worst hitting lineup in baseball this year. Unfortunately, the signing of Chris Young will really stymie the development of this team; he was a very poor signing. What Chris Young represents is the many strikeouts that will occur with men on bases. This team as presently constructed will strike out a record number of times. There will be too many times when runners-in-scoring position do not score with less than two outs (because of strike outs). There is no lead-off hitter unless Eric Young is starting; there is no protection for Granderson (in the 4th slot of the lineup).
    I’m afraid we’re talking about <75 wins with SPs losing many 2-1 and 3-2 games.
    One more note: at present, there is no bullpen

  2. Bubbadubbs
    December 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Boy royhobbs7 you might try optimisim like the author. I too have been a long time met sufferer. If not for hope what do we have. Every season has its challenges most of the fun comes from watching the next yeatrs team being formed and shaped. As they say hope springs eternal. Lets go mets 2014 start the climb

  3. pal88
    December 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Post removed for violating the Comment Policy

  4. December 27, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Pal88- You’re lucky Brian must be on vacation. We’ve all been reminded to stop doing CAP’S as per the comment policy rules.
    Scott. Who has reported that the Mets were interested in Drew? Scott Boras? He’s only trying to add fuel to a fire that has burned out already. Boston only offered Drew a 2 year contract and it appears to have been the only legitimate offer he has received thus far this off season. Morales is another Boras client. He turned down a qualifying offer from Seattle and is looking for a multi-year deal. Does this team need another DH? And at what cost? 10-12 million? Which the team doesn’t even have. If the Mets can win at home and finish better than 500, to me that would be an improvement. The players need to change the atmosphere when they play at home so they can give the fans a reason to come out.

  5. Peter
    December 27, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Braves won 96 games and and led the league in strikeouts, they also lead the team in runs scored. That just took away that post!!!

    • Patrick Albanesius
      December 27, 2013 at 9:57 am

      It’s like that old saying, “If everyone is special, nobody is.” If every team strikes out, then it won’t be such a detriment to the Mets to have high K guys. I would like to see the Mets get another high-average guy. I’d also like to be 6 feet tall.

  6. December 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

    As Met fans hope and optimism are a heavy burden to carry. But just take a moment and compare the starting outfield from 2013 and 2014. Far more consistent and a better defensive outfield. Small steps? Yes. But in the right direction. The starting pitching is coming together. If Parnell can come back and stay healthy the team has a reasonable chance at playing 500 ball.

  7. Jerry Grote
    December 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

    The yardstick, from 2013 spring, was that we were going to be an East Coast version of the Giants.

    On August 2, 2012 we beat a team that would win the World Series 9-1 and the team was 52-54. We had Jason Bay in LF, Torres in CF batting second, Duda in RF, Cedeno at 2B, Rob Johnson at C and the wrong Chris Young on the mound.

    I look at what this team has accomplished since the end of 2012, and I just can’t see how so many fans see this glass as half-empty. Just look at what we’ve replaced.

    It might not win 90 games, but it has all the makings of a professional baseball team. We bow to no one in starting rotation, and if we sign Drew our up the middle defense can be as good as any team in baseball.

    It’s been one year since the Giants were World Champs, and we’re damned close to completing that journey. Not job done, but if you aren’t pleased I find myself repeating a line from “The American President” … is it possible your standards are a little too high?

  8. December 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Agree. The Mets are a work in progress. But! One enormous difference! Terry Collins is not the right manager to lead this team to a World Series with his archaic ideas on how to best utilize his players and their strengths.

  9. royhobbs7
    December 27, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I would love to be optimistic. But the 2013 team is a better team on paper.

    To Peter. Yes, the Braves struck out the most. But they hit in the clutch (not likely for our team in the upcoming season given that there is no right handed batter to protect our cleanup hitter) and had a sterling bullpen (something we don’t possess as well).

    If I was the opposing manager facing the Mets, I wouldn’t have my pitcher throw a strike to Granderson after an 0-1 count. #s5 on down in the lineup are pathetic!

    It’s all OK, I’m still hopeful for 2015 to be the year we are more competitive. I can wait. It’s only been 28 years since we won a WS.

    • Jerry Grote
      December 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      I’ll go ahead and say what’s on most of our minds … “clutch” is not a repeatable skill. Any outsized performance is an anomaly, and a regression will surely follow in the next season.

  10. December 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    At least you can say the Mets have won a World Series in your lifetime.

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