Teammates pleased with Harvey's decision
Captain Wright: It is the correct choice for organization and All-Star pitcher
LOS ANGELES -- When Matt Harvey first began debating in August whether or not to have Tommy John surgery, it was only natural for Harvey's teammates to gossip amongst themselves. Many felt the same way as general manager Sandy Alderson, preferring to see Harvey miss all of 2014 if it meant the young All-Star could return to full strength one year later.
So several of Harvey's teammates were pleased with his recent decision to undergo surgery, despite what it might mean for their 2014 playoff chances.
"I'm almost relieved a little bit knowing that the thing's going to get done," captain David Wright said in a telephone interview Friday evening. "Knock on wood, hopefully it isn't an issue for the rest of his career."
After Harvey revealed in late August that he had a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Wright spoke frequently with Harvey about his decision.
"He was torn," Wright recalled. "I told him numerous times, 'If it was me and I was in the same situation, I would have the surgery.'
"I think it's the right decision. It's hard enough playing this game, but it's even more difficult when you go out and take the mound and you know that you have a small tear there. Mentally, you feel a little tight that day, your velocity gets down a little bit, all of the sudden you think, 'Is this the day that I'm going to need the surgery?'
"So I think that it's just the correct decision both for us as an organization and for Matt personally. This is the decision that I would make if I was in his shoes."
Added pitcher Dillon Gee: "[Harvey] never said anything, but the feel that we got from the very beginning was that [surgery] was the best option. I think he really didn't want to do this. I think he wanted to pitch. But I'm sure he talked to a lot of professionals and got their opinions, and this was the best outcome."
And so the Mets press forward, now knowing for certain that Harvey will not be in their 2014 rotation. As currently constituted, that group should include Gee, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese, all of whom are decent bets to approach 200 innings. Alderson indicated Friday that while prospects Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard could also be rotation candidates at some point next year, he is likely to look outside the organization for help filling the two vacant spots.
Given that plan, Wright noted, the drop-off from Harvey does not necessarily have to be steep.
"Here's my thought: going into this year, you knew Harvey was going to be good," Wright said. "You didn't know Harvey was going to be flat-out dominant. It was a bonus that he became flat-out dominant. And even before this year started, the preparation for long-term success was probably more based on [Harvey] being good -- not dominant.
"So I think that we're going to miss him, no doubt, but the plan still moves forward. And then when we do get Matt back, it's almost like making a blockbuster trade at the beginning of the 2015 season."
Briefed extensively on the team's long-term plans last winter, Wright said he expects Alderson to move forward with his previously-scheduled spending spree. That does not mean the Mets will splash dollars all around the free-agent pool, but it does mean they should devote tens of millions to the 2014 payroll, perhaps mimicking the Red Sox' recent strategy of diversifying their assets through mid-level free agents.
Pitchers willing to accept one-year contracts could be even more attractive than usual to the Mets, knowing Harvey will almost certainly be back in New York's rotation come 2015.
"Tommy John [surgery] these days is kind of like, 'OK, you're probably going to be back better,'" Gee said. "It stinks to lose Matt for a year. We have a big spot to fill. But I still feel good about our staff."