Tuesday, August 27, 2013

UCL, Three Cringeworthy Letters for Any Mets Fan

Let me narrate this story of Matt Harvey to you using my ESPN Text Alerts and my reactions to it.

3:19 PM- ESPN MLB NYM - Matt Harvey underwent MRI on Monday morning for undisclosed reason, Newsday reports.

(Eh, it's probably nothing. It's Matt Harvey, he's not human, he's fine!)

Now things got interesting with the next four texts which I read all at the same time.

3:55 PM- ESPN SportsCenter - Mets All-Star P Matt Harvey has partial tear of elbow ligament, source tells ESPNNewYork.com

(Heart sinking.)

3:56 PM- ESPN MLB NYM - Matt Harvey has partial tear of elbow ligament, source tells ESPNNewYork.com

(Double heart sinking. At least Harvey is famous enough to warrant two texts a minute apart saying literally the same thing.)

4:00 PM - ESPN MLB - Mets P Matt Harvey (partial UCL tear) headed to DL, may need Tommy John surgery, source tells ESPN.

(Double take.)

(Heart pounding.)


(About to throw my phone against the wall.)


(Resumes crying.)

Ah, this is tough. This is tough for the Mets, more importantly, this is tough for Matt Harvey, and most importantly this is tough for me.

Okay, but seriously, the worst part about this is that it deprives me and every other Mets fan of seeing Harvey take the mound for over a year if he ends up having Tommy John surgery. Harvey is an incredible pitcher and I consider myself lucky to be able to experience him in a Mets uniform.

But that's about it.

This season is almost over, and the team obviously is not going anywhere.


And I've been saying it all year, the Mets weren't going anywhere next year either. The way the team is constructed, there are a lot of issues to be overcome before the playoffs are even in reach. I have never written it here, but I have been saying for a while that 2015 is the year that the Mets can start to contend. Even that, it will take some breaks and perfect management, which honestly, I think that Alderson is perfectly capable of that.

Don't believe me?  Their lineup currently consists of a below average offensive player in Eric Young Jr, who despite being very fast and energetic, can't put those skills to use unless he finds a way to get on base more often. Last year he showed great ability to get on base but looking at his career numbers it seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. He needs to be replaced, especially because of who we have in center field.

Juan Lagares is a gaping offensive hole. He is a crater in the lineup. A black hole. Fortunately for him, that's what batters think when they see him tracking down their fly balls. He is an amazing defensive player. While Young isn't too shabby himself, Lagares is one of the best center fielders in the game. But he can't hit. I'm going to be very patient with him because he's so young, and because he was very good in the minors, and (obviously small sample) posted a blazing .929 OPS in 17 games in AAA this year. Even if he never shows any competence at the plate, I'm fine with keeping him around because of his defense, as long as he is the only offensive zero in the lineup. If he is masked by seven other guys who are at least decent, I'm 100% okay with Lagares.

Now there's Marlon Byrd. He's having a surprisingly good year. but he's turning 36 years old on Friday and there's no way I will accept him being the Opening Day right fielder for this team next year. Of course, as I was writing this, he was traded to the Pirates, which I will cover later. So I guess there's no point to continue talking about him. Umm, moving on then...

As much as I have taken many unnecessary shots at Lucas Duda, he has greatly improved this year and has shown a better ability to work the count and take walks. I think it's worth giving him one more shot next year and seeing how it plays out. That would also mean that they need to acquire a decent fourth outfielder in case Duda goes into 2012 Duda mode. If it doesn't work, they'll get someone to take over the starting job for 2015.

So in the outfield alone, they need to acquire two people for it to be a respectable unit. Then there's the middle infield. Daniel Murphy has been wildly overrated by fans because he's a grinder and a likable guy. I have to say, he sucked me in too. Too bad he was nothing more than a sufficiently average hitter three years ago, and has gotten much worse each year since then, finally dropping to a ghastly .304/.389/.693 OBP/SLG/OPS slash line. His OPS is still almost 100 points higher than Dee Gordon's career OPS, but that's beside the point. He just has not been good recently, and he should not be considered a big part of this team's future.

Now I think they might be able to get Wilmer Flores into the lineup to replace Murphy, but even he doesn't excite me very much. A lot of the hype throughout his minor league career has been more about physical talent than actual production, because in that department, he has been slightly above average, which is generous on my part. Let's take it for granted that he fully develops into an average player next year, that's going to be an upgrade from Murphy so I'll leave that alone.

The Mets don't have a shortstop. That is all. They lack a human presence in their organization capable of playing the position at a major league level.

The first base problem with Ike Davis is easily solved. Josh Satin will be one of the more productive players in the MLB day in and day out when he finally gets a starting role. His raw numbers won't impress a lot of people, but his OPS, and more specifically his OBP will be quite above average. My favorite comp for him is Allen Craig. Someone who to the casual fan is just another guy, but to someone who watches the team will be impressive because of their ridiculously consistent production.

Okay so I just named a need for at least three offensive players for the offense to even be near any sort of success. Here's the thing, the offense will have to be a bit more than barely successful (which implies about top 5 in the NL) with the way the pitching staff is. Yes, with Harvey they would have had a very good 1-2-3 of Harvey, Wheeler, and Niese, and Dillon Gee sets up to be a pretty nice fourth starter. The fifth starter isn't on this team right now, and unless they deem Montero, Mazzoni, or possibly even Syndergaard ready for the start of the year, Sandy will have to acquire a pitcher.

That's before we even start with the awful bullpen. I don't really need to say much about it. It's just bad. Except for Aardsma.

Anyway, I named 4 key players plus the revamping of the bullpen that all need to be done in the offseason for the Mets to be a contender. Yes, management will have a good amount of money to play with, but it won't be easy to trade for a guy like Starlin Castro or Ian Kinsler (or if the Rangers decide to trade Profar instead) without depleting the Mets farm system, which I think will be an integral part of the team's success in the upcoming years.

While I agree the Mets are most certainly on the upswing, but even with Matt Harvey, I don't believe anything was to become of the 2014 season anyway. And I have no doubt that if Harvey does indeed require Tommy John surgery, he will come back at full strength in 2015. That particular procedure has a very high success rate when it comes to post-surgery success rate. Just look at Stephen Strasburg, he came back the same pitcher as he was before.

All in all, yes it sucks that we can't see our beloved Harvey for a while, but for his sake it's best that he just go for the surgery and come back at full strength in 2015 when the team around him is ready to support him.

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