Oct 22

Mets’ All-Star Matt Harvey Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

The New York Mets announced this afternoon All-Star pitcher Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery, with Dr. James Andrews performing in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Harvey will miss the entire season.

HARVEY: Has the knife today.

HARVEY: Has the knife today.

Initially, Harvey wanted to attempt rest and rehab as treatment for the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Harvey was even given Andrews’ blessing to try that first, but couldn’t build up the strength to resume throwing, let alone compete in the Arizona Fall League.

Harvey waffled on surgery for over a month, but in the end did what general manager Sandy Alderson thought he would. Alderson said he was careful not to influence Harvey’s decision, but once the All-Star starter opted for surgery he said it was the right choice.

Alderson admitted Harvey was taking a gamble that he would be healthy for spring training, then re-injure his elbow and miss the remainder of the 2014 season and all of 2015. Alderson described that as the worst possible scenario for the Mets.

All along, Alderson said Harvey’s condition wouldn’t impact the Mets’ offseason approach to their rotation. Alderson said not to expect the Mets to sign a marquee free agent pitcher despite him saying he had the resources. Instead, Alderson said the team would target two innings eaters for the back end of the rotation until Rafael Montero’s Super Two deadline is reached and he would be available by June.

The Mets’ current rotation is Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee, all with questions of their own. Niese is coming off a slightly torn rotator cuff; Wheeler was scratched from his last start with a sore shoulder and will be entering his first full season; and Gee, based on victories, is now the de facto No. 1.

The Mets also do not know whether Jenrry Mejia, who underwent elbow surgery to remove bone spurs will be available for the start of the season.

The innings-eaters Alderson is searching for could be Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Both showed enough – especially Matsuzaka – to warrant being brought to spring training.

Trouble is, they also showed enough to other teams who might pry them away if the Mets lowballed them.

It sure is strange how things tend to turn around. Prior to Harvey’s injury the Mets were thinking about going to a six-man rotation to conserve innings for Harvey and Wheeler.

They are now looking for help.

Oct 15

What Is Mets’ Interest In Their Own Free Agents?

In looking at the free-agent market, the New York Mets will first consider which of their own eight they might think of bringing back.

It isn’t an impressive list, but there are several the Mets might think of returning. If they don’t bring back they can always find their replacements in the market.

The filing period begins five days after the end of the World Series. Here’s the eight:

David Aardsma: He had some decent moments coming out of the bullpen, but nothing that screams, “we gotta have him back.’’ Aardsma was 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in 43 appearances. He allowed 53 base runners in 39.2 innings, so we’re not exactly talking about a slam-the-door reliever. Walking 19 and giving up seven homers isn’t good for such a limited time.

Tim Byrdak: He worked 4.2 innings in eight appearances because he was coming off an injury. He pitched in 72 games two years ago, but was injured in 2012. Because of his health issues, he should come relatively cheaply and might be worth offering an incentives-laden deal. If he rejects it, the Mets haven’t lost anything.

Pedro Feliciano: He is far from “Perpetual Pedro’’ but after missing the past two seasons he did find his way into 25 games. It was too small a window to measure his effectiveness. He might be worth a shot, but the Mets must ask themselves, “can we live without him?’’ Chances are they’ll answer in the affirmative.

Frank Francisco: I mention him because he’s on the list, but there’s no way the Mets want him back. Frankly, I thought the only reason they brought him up at the end of the season was in the hope of finding a trading partner.

Aaron Harang: The Mets can pick up his option and since they are two short in the rotation, he’s somebody worth considering. He started four games for the Mets, and worked six innings in three of them. Harang struck out 26 in 23 innings, so there’s some hope there. On the flip side, he also gave up five homers among his nine runs. That he gave the Mets innings is what they should look at considering he’d be a back end of the rotation starter.

LaTroy Hawkins: He’s 40 and still throws in the mid-90s. When Bobby Parnell went down he assumed the closer role and saved 13 games. Parnell is not a certainty coming off neck surgery and constructing the bullpen is a must. Frankly, I’m not sure they would get much better in the free-agent market.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: He started seven games and went 3-3 and worked into the fifth inning is all but one game. He gave the Mets 38.2 innings when they needed it desperately. GM Sandy Alderson said he was pleased with what Matsuzaka gave them. Of the eight free agents, he’s probably the most likely to come back.

Johan Santana: He wants to pitch again and Alderson said he’d keep his mind open. He’s already received a pile of money from the Mets, and unless he accepts a minor league deal, I’d be reluctant considering his health situation.

 

Oct 04

Mets’ Matt Harvey Opts For Surgery; Alderson Relieved At Decision

The bad news the New York Mets hoped to avoid, but long suspected they would eventually face, was acknowledged this afternoon when Matt Harvey elected to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn UCL that will force him to miss the entire 2014 season.

Harvey had been gradually considering surgery, and met with general manager Sandy Alderson to confirm. Alderson said he stayed away from Harvey as to not prejudice the decision.

HARVEY: Will take the knife. (AP)

HARVEY: Will take the knife. (AP)

“Matt came to this decision through the course of his rehab,” Alderson said this afternoon on a conference call. “He’s had quite a bit of time to think about it. I always assumed Matt would reach this conclusion. I felt this would be the right decision and I am happy Matt reached this decision.”

Had Harvey opted for surgery when he was initially injured, there was an outside chance he could have been available next September, but he was adamant in trying a six-to-eight week throwing program and rehabilitation in the hope of being ready for the season.

The timetable is for Harvey to have surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews will perform surgery by the end of the month and from there he should be ready for spring training, 2015.

Even so, this is the right decision for Harvey as it eliminates the possibility of starting the season, then blowing out his elbow and not only missing all of 2014, but also 2015. Alderson said that was a critical aspect for Harvey’s decision.

“That he might lose two seasons instead of one was definitely a factor,” Alderson said.

On Monday, before traveling to Florida for the Mets’ organizational meetings, Alderson said Harvey would have to show progress if he was to have a chance at pitching in the Arizona Fall League. It is hard to define progress when he hadn’t even started throwing. Harvey had been rehabbing at the Hospital of Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Harvey was magnificent while going 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts. He struck out 191 hitters in 178.1 innings with a microscopic 0.931 WHIP. However, the most amazing number with Harvey was a staggering 12 no-decisions.

Those are significant numbers to be removed from a rotation Alderson said is now three deep with Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. Alderson indicated the Mets could bring back veterans Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Alderson said the Mets aren’t likely to compensate for losing Harvey by signing a high profile free agent, but instead sign a mid-level veteran such a Bronson Arroyo. Alderson left open the possibility of a homegrown prospect such as Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard making the rotation out of spring training, but said that wasn’t a preferable option.

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Oct 03

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Starting Pitching Options

GM Sandy Alderson said the New York Mets have the resources to shop this winter. However, it is more likely they will opt for several mid-tier free agents rather than cash it in on one number, such as it might take for Bartolo Colon or Tim Lincecum.

Given that, here’s his shopping list for this winter, beginning with the starting pitching. I will address the bullpen, catchers and position players over the next few days.

ARROYO: Interested in Mets.

ARROYO: Interested in Mets.

Everybody talks of the need for power, and I agree, but a bat is not as important as rounding out the rotation. History is dominated with slugging teams that didn’t win the World Series, or reach the playoffs.

When you consider the Mets’ postseason success, it has always been built on pitching over power.

With Matt Harvey a question, the free-agent market has several options of potential innings-eaters who could be had without breaking the bank, and I’m not talking about bringing back Johan Santana or Shaun Marcum, either.

While Alderson left the door open for Santana’s return, he likely said that as a courtesy. Santana is still rehabbing from a second surgery to repair a partially torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. The first surgery came in September 2010, but after a 19-month recovery, he blew out his shoulder in a hissy fit by making an unauthorized throwing session.

Santana underwent a second surgery April 2.

Safer options are bringing back Aaron Harang, whom the Mets hold an option for 2014, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Alderson didn’t dismiss either as a possibility earlier this week.

Bronson Arroyo has already expressed an interest in the Mets, so I suspect Alderson will contact him. Arroyo was 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA while pitching 202 innings over 32 starts for the Reds.

He’ll be 37 in spring training and made $8.25 million last season. However, as a contender, Cincinnati could be justified that expenditure. That might not be the case with the Mets, but Arroyo is an innings horse, having pitched at least 199 in every year since 2005.

Personally, although he had a miserable season, I believe Phil Hughes could benefit from a change of scenery and the larger confines of Citi Field. He’s only 27 and two years ago won 16 games. In 2010, he won 18.

The Mets said they want to stay away from injury reclamation projects, but Toronto’s Josh Johnson is one of the most intriguing name on the list.

He recently had bone spurs removed from his elbow. A short-term contract loaded with incentives is the likely way to go. If you’re going to roll the dice on an injury, go with the soon-to-be 30 Johnson over Santana.

Johnson was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA for Toronto after consecutive down seasons with Miami. However, he led the NL with a 2.30 ERA while striking out 186 batters in 2010.

Sure, he’s a risk, but would you rather have the Mets call back Mike Pelfrey?

COMPLETE LIST

* Denotes club has option

Bronson Arroyo
Scott Baker
Erik Bedard
Nick Blackburn *
A.J. Burnett
Chris Capuano *
Chris Carpenter
Bruce Chen
Bartolo Colon
Aaron Cook
Jorge De La Rosa
Scott Feldman
Gavin Floyd
Jeff Francis
Armando Galarraga
Jon Garland
Matt Garza
Roy Halladay *
Jason Hammel
Aaron Harang *
Rich Harden
Dan Haren
Roberto Hernandez
Tim Hudson
Phil Hughes
Ubaldo Jimenez *
Josh Johnson
Jeff Karstens
Hiroki Kuroda
John Lannan
Jon Lester *
Colby Lewis
Ted Lilly
Tim Lincecum
Derek Lowe
Paul Maholm
Shaun Marcum
Jason Marquis
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Brett Myers *
Ricky Nolasco
Mike Pelfrey
Andy Pettitte
Wandy Rodriguez *
Jonathan Sanchez
Ervin Santana
Johan Santana *
Joe Saunders *
James Shields *
Tim Stauffer
Jason Vargas
Ryan Vogelsong *
Edinson Volquez
Tsuyoshi Wada *
Chien-Ming Wang
Chris Young
Barry Zito

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Oct 01

Matt Harvey Major Topic In Mets’ Organizational Meetings

Matt Harvey is a major topic of discussion for the New York Mets’ front office as they began organizational meetings today in Port St. Lucie.

General manager Sandy Alderson must operate under the assumption Harvey will not be ready to start next season, and as he has yet to begin throwing, the Mets must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Understandably, Harvey does not want surgery – who does? – and wants to rest and later rehab in the hope of being ready for spring training.

HARVEY: Mets can't bet on him for 2014.

HARVEY: Mets can’t bet on him for 2014.

“The fact that he’s not throwing now, I wouldn’t say is concerning, but we need to see some progress,’’ Alderson said. “I hope that he will be throwing shortly. I want to emphasize this isn’t a rehab program. This is a diagnostic program. We’ll see what happens.’’

If he doesn’t start throwing soon the diagnosis is this isn’t going to work and surgery should be forthcoming.

Harvey said in mid-September he would undergo a six-to-eight week throwing program instead of immediately having Tommy John surgery. That was over three weeks ago and Harvey hasn’t thrown yet. Alderson said pitching in the Arizona Fall League was a possibility, but appeared to back off that before leaving for Florida.

As of now, I would bet against Harvey pitching in Arizona.

If Harvey eventually opts for surgery he will miss most, if not all, of next season. The risk of eschewing surgery is if he starts 2014 and re-tears the ligament he would not only miss what would be left of next season but also 2015.

That means the Mets might not have him for two, instead of one year. If Harvey opts for surgery now there is a possibility he could return late next September and be ready for 2015.

Alderson said, “Harvey does influence what we do in the off-season.’’

Alderson said it isn’t likely the Mets would go after an upper-tier free-agent pitcher, but said they would explore going after an innings eater. He said bringing back Aaron Harang and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka are possibilities, noting he has only three givens in next year’s rotation: Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee.

The Mets should bring back both Harang and Matsuzaka, as both pitched well enough to warrant the spring training invite.

Alderson said Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard aren’t ready, but hopes a mid-level free agent “could get us to them.’’

Meanwhile, Harvey is working with physical therapists and isn’t close to being ready for the Arizona Fall League, which begins Oct. 8.

“He needs to throw to a near-competitive level, pain-free, and perhaps on more than one occasion,’’ Alderson said about Harvey being ready for the Fall League.

As of now, that’s not going to happen.

The Mets’ off-season plan as of now, and it is the right option, is to sign a mid-level free agent instead of trading their young pitching for a proven starter.

“We have to be careful we don’t turn a strength into a weakness,” Alderson said. “With Matt out, it makes it a little more difficult to give up two or three guys we know are right on the cusp.’’

It is not out of the possibility Alderson might entertain bringing back Johan Santana on a reduced salary, after they buy out his 2014 contract for $5.5 million.

Santana said he isn’t ready to retire, and nobody knows his physical condition better than the Mets.

“I think that’s a possibility,’’ Alderson said. “I don’t really know what Johan’s thinking. We’ll talk to him, I’m sure, over the next couple of weeks but I think he wants to pitch.

“We’ll just have to see what the market is for these guys and how much of our resources we want to allocate to somebody coming off injury or somebody you hope was able to pitch for you at a higher level.’’

If the Mets are to take a gamble on a pitcher coming off an injury, it makes more sense to talk to Santana – whom they know – rather than somebody they don’t know.

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