September 16, 2013

Matt Harvey Say

As anyone reading this blog today has noticed, Matt Harvey is on our minds and rightfully so. Today, our caped crusader fled to Alabama to get his ulnar collateral ligament checked out by that orthopedic magician of the south, Dr. James Andrews. Word is we are not to expect a decision today and, in fact, the Mets have released a statement saying as much:

So, my dear Met fan, you will likely have to wait a few more days for any decision from Mr. Harvey on what he plans to do with his elbow.

However, while we wait, it is worth weighing the options.

He could opt for Tommy-John surgery.  The typical comeback from surgery, assuming there is a comeback (GASP!), is 12 months, meaning if he has the surgery tomorrow, he could be back pitching for the last month of next season.  Whether or not he can be effective immediately is a different story.

He could also opt to go without surgery, continue his rehab, and pitch until such time as he's forced to have surgery.  Such pitchers as Ervin Santana, Zach Greinke, Adam Wainwright, and our own Scott Atchinson have avoided surgery and come back to pitch.  The up-sides are (a) Matt can avoid surgery, as any person should always do if possible, and (b) Matt will likely be back for the 2014 season.  However, there would always be that question of when that elbow was going to pop.

This is one instance where I believe the wishes of the fans and the organization should align against the (likely) wishes of the player.  Next year is supposed to be the Mets unveiling into relevance. We have been rebuilding for years and the 2014 season was the year we were finally supposed to see a quality product on the field.  This very well may still be the case. However, it is not likely, and I hope was not expected, to be a championship year.  The kids are still young and we have more on the way. Matt would help next year, yes.  However, if he misses the entire year, it probably is only going to serve to improve our draft position, not be the difference between winning a ring and not. To me, this means a fan should hope Matt chooses to have the surgery now. Moreover, if he has the surgery now, it will greatly decrease (though not get rid of) the worry regarding the health of his elbow going forward as the question of "when will it pop" will not be as relevant.
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For much the same reason I believe the Mets organization should be rooting for Matt to have surgery.  However, in addition to that reason, the Mets organization signs his paychecks and thus, should hope if he misses time, he misses time when he is not getting paid much. Relative to what Matt Harvey projects to make in the future, he makes absolutely nothing now.

In the end, this is Matt's decision. He may very well ingest all of these reasons and decide surgery is the best option.  However, even as a fan, I would understand if he did everything in his ability to avoid it.  For one, it is surgery after all. It is always a short term risk and even though advances in Tommy-John have been amazing, there is no guarantee you make it back. In addition, as we saw earlier, Matt has yet to receive his big payday. If he is able to go the Adam Wainwright and/or Roy Halladay route and pitch at a Cy Young level for many years without fixing a torn UCL, not only will he help the team in the short-term at minimum, but he will be in a position to sign a big contract within the next 12 opposed to 24-36 months from now, which would likely be the case should he have surgery now. This is the difference of millions upon millions of dollars. To throw out some pre-arbitration years and sign that big deal now is a large boon for any young player and provides security for his and his families financial future sooner rather than later.

Would you really turn down that opportunity? I don't know that I would.

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