Friday, October 4, 2013

A Year With No Harvey Days May Be A Good Thing

The 2013 season just ended for the Mets and their fans.  But the 2014 campaign has already come to a close for Matt Harvey before it even began.  The Mets' All-Star right-hander has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery, which will be performed later this month by Dr. James Andrews.

Anytime a team loses its ace in the rotation, it's a tough blow to take.  But Harvey's absence might not be a bad thing for the Mets.  Allow me to explain.

Clearly, the Mets are going to need to acquire a starting pitcher to replace Harvey in the rotation, preferably an innings-eater.  Since Harvey is expected to be back in 2015, plus with the eventual call-up of Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, or both (assuming they're both not traded), the Mets only need to sign a starting pitcher to a team-friendly one-year deal.  If the Mets are out of the playoff race by the trade deadline, that veteran starter suddenly becomes trade bait.  In 2013, Marlon Byrd (playing with the Mets on a one-year contract) and John Buck (in the last year of his three-year deal) parlayed fine seasons into an August deal with the playoff-bound Pirates.  That got the Mets a solid relief pitcher in Vic Black and a good infield prospect in Dilson Herrera.  The same thing can happen in 2014, but this time with a starting pitcher being traded instead of a right fielder and a catcher.

But what if the Mets actually compete for a playoff spot in 2014?  Well, then they just keep the starting pitcher to complement the younger, less experienced pitchers in the rotation.  Look at what the more experienced Bob Ojeda did to the younger Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez when he became a Met in 1986.  And don't forget the contributions by the late Don Cardwell as a member of the staff in 1969.

Without question, Matt Harvey will certainly be missed next year.  But his absence is not the end of the world, nor does it signify the end of the 2014 season six months before it has even begun.

The Mets will begin the season with Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler in the starting rotation.  The fourth starter's position can be filled by a veteran on a one-year deal (Dice-K Part Deux, maybe?  The Harang-atan?  Bronson Arroyo and his sweatshirt?), while the fifth starter can be either Carlos Torres or Jenrry Mejia (remember him?).  If the fourth and fifth starters perform reasonably well - great!  They'll immediately become attractive to other teams.  If they aren't dependable, Syndergaard and Montero will be more than happy to replace them by June.

Best case scenario - the Mets remain strong in the starting rotation and can trade some of their excess pitching for more pieces that will eventually make the team more complete in all facets of the game.

Worst case scenario - the fourth and fifth starters remind us of Shaun Marcum and Aaron Laffey and are quickly replaced by Syndergaard and/or Montero, who gain valuable experience before Harvey returns in 2015.

There will be no Harvey Days in 2014.  But that doesn't mean Mets fans will be left without happy days next season.  The rest of the starting rotation will make sure of that.


Jim Reilly said...

But now starting pitching isn't a strength and trading for a part the Mets need - power bat, OF, 1B - will be tougher to come by.

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

It's not as strong as it could've been with Harvey, but it's certainly not as bad as the OF/1B situation. This is where we see if Sandy Alderson really is as creative with trades as he likes to think he is.