When Matt Harvey announced he would undergo Tommy John surgery and likely miss the entire 2014 season, the New York Mets were forced to rethink their off-season plans.
Last week Mets GM Sandy Alderson sounded optimistic about the opportunity to improve the team through free agency. After three years as general manager Alderson had finally put the organization in position to leverage financial resources to improve the team. Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Frank Francisco have been erased from the team's payroll, creating an estimated $50 million surplus to begin restructuring the product.
Despite Harvey's stubbornness to pitch through the elbow injury, Alderson knew there was a likelihood his ace wouldn't pitch in 2014 and the Mets would need to prepare for that possibility. When that possibility became reality, confirming Alderson's suspicions, the Mets pushed the reset button. Now, instead of spending money to fill holes at first base, shortstop, outfield or the bullpen, Alderson will need to, first, address the gapping hole at the top of the team's rotation. The Mets need a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher -- or two -- to support Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler.
Harvey's injury, and subsequent decision to undergo surgery, diminished the chances of achieving competitiveness next season. Harvey's success was one step forward and his injury marked two steps back. Before Alderson can make the Mets better he must make the Mets whole -- that's whole in the Mets context.
For the Mets to get better they need David Wright, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Bobby Parnell and Jon Niese healthy, active and producing. They are, as of now, the core of assets of the Mets.
“The goal is to have a better team, not a better this or better that,” said Alderson.
Vic Black, LaTroy Hawkins, Aaron Harang, Carlos Torres, Jeremy Hefner, Ike Davis, Diasuke Matsuzaka and Lucas Duda are not the answer. To win, and be competitive enough to win a division or play in the post season, Alderson knows the Mets will need more than parts and pieces.
The good news is the Mets will "monitor the opportunities in the marketplace factor those in within a budget," according to Alderson. Let me translate: manage your expectations this off-season. For example, will Robinson Cano's name come up at organizational strategy meetings scheduled this week in Port St. Lucie? No.
“We’d be in a position to do it, whether it were the right player,” Alderson said last week. “But would it be prudent to do it, even for the right player. It’s not out of the question. Will we do it, that is more of a strategic question, not a matter of resources.”
Read that quote again -- carefully. Alderson already answered the question, Whether it's Cano, or Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Garza or Bronson Arroyo, the answer is no. "...would it be prudent to do it, even for the right player," said Alderson.
Do you know what prudent means? Here, I'll save you some time: Prudent is acting with or showing care and thought for the future.
The bad news: It appears that with Harvey on the shelf, subsequently, so is the Mets future.
If you're patient, no problem. But fans are running out patience. The Mets have had five consecutive losing seasons since 2009. Since 2011, when Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins arrived, the Mets are 225-261. The Mets are in a state of regression.
So, you tell me Mr. Alderson, even for the right player, when will it be prudent?