Despite learning of Matt Harvey’s elbow injury (partially torn ulnar collateral ligament) on Monday, the New York Mets should not alter their plans for this upcoming offseason and continue to build on their current core of young players.
Why? Because there is too much at stake to alter the future of this organization. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson needs to keep a level head and not alter his plans for the future because of one injury.
Injuries happen—they are part of the game—however, the Mets are finally at a stage where they have money to spend, according to COO Jeff Wilpon (via Newsday’s Neil Best):
We haven't set a payroll for next year, but I can tell you we're ready to invest with those big contracts coming off the books. We have the money to invest. We're going to invest it prudently. Sandy [Alderson, the general manager] is going to set a path.
The Mets would be wise to use this money to help the team. Harvey is coming back eventually and the team needs to surround him with more talent. However, the first item on the Mets' agenda is to decide what course of action to take with Harvey—surgery or no surgery?
If the decision were up to the Mets ace, he would be ready to go for opening day next season (via Twitter):
While it is nice to see confidence in Harvey, the Mets would be best served if Harvey undergoes Tommy John surgery. The surgery is reportedly avoidable, as Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright had the same injury and pitched for six seasons without getting surgery, which is the best-case scenario for Harvey.
However, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes, surgery is the safer route to go. Several players have tried to avoid surgery, but eventually chose to go under the knife:
Among those who tried it only to end up under the knife: Chad Billingsley, Cory Luebke, Dylan Bundy, Carl Crawford, Rafael Furcal, Neftali Feliz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Arodys Vizcaino and Jamie Moyer. And plenty more, from Jordan Zimmermann to Kris Medlen to Junichi Tazawa, went for surgery despite their UCLs not being fully torn. While trying to rehab is the responsible thing, it usually just delays the start of an arduous process: the physical rebuilding of an arm and the mental rebuilding of a man who must re-teach himself how to use it.
The Mets' should just play it safe and protect their prized asset—have him get the surgery and just be done with it. With their expected budget increase, New York will be able to replace Harvey with a veteran pitcher.
Veteran arms expected to be available this offseason includes Scott Feldman and Gavin Floyd (via baseballprospectus.com), both low-risk candidates who can fill out the rotation with Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.
New York would still have money to give their lineup some more accomplished bats and would still have a formidable rotation to work with. The Mets' future is too bright to jeopardize their offseason plans because of Harvey's injury. When he does come back, whether it be in 2014 or 2015, Harvey should be surrounded by talent capable of clinching a playoff spot.
That will only happen if Alderson sticks with the plan.