The 2017 Mets were supposed to be a playoff team. They were widely projected as wild-card favorites and occasionally even pegged as serious threats in the National League East. Instead, they stumbled out of the gate, watched their disabled list grow and eventually wound up where they are now: 58-78, in fourth place in the division, closer to the worst record in baseball than they are to .500.
And the hits keep coming for Terry Collins and company. On Monday alone, we learned that David Wright will undergo another rotator cuff surgery, infielder T.J. Rivera will undergo Tommy John surgery and reliever Josh Edgin will undergo knee surgery. This all came a couple days after the announcement that breakout star Michael Conforto will face shoulder surgery. The fact that hotshot prospect Amed Rosario will miss only a few games qualifies as good news, as does the fact that infielder Wilmer Flores is (relatively) OK after literally fouling a ball off his face.
Much of the above counts as bad luck (though you could argue the training staff deserves some blame), largely out of the team’s control. But before you feel too bad for the Mets, consider the day’s other top story. According to SNY’s Steve Gelbs, newly healthy Matt Harvey will make his next start on short rest, essentially just because he feels like it. From Harvey’s perspective, the decision seems like a misguided attempt to prove himself on the heels of a long absence. From the team’s perspective, it seems like an unconscionable risk in a lost season.
Matt Harvey will start on Wednesday on short rest. TC says he wanted to get back on the mound as soon as possible.
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) September 4, 2017
Monday’s news, about the various injuries and about Harvey’s plan to pitch on short rest, feels like a microcosm for the Mets’ disastrous year. All season, management has suffered alternately from bad luck and from self-inflicted wounds.
The team’s roster gets weakened by a biblical barrage of injuries to key players, including Noah Syndergaard, Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and others? Largely bad luck.
Those in charge mismanage many of the injuries, most notably failing to get Syndergaard to submit to an MRI? At least partially a self-inflicted wound.
Poor early-season performance from many of the non-injured players, such as Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda and Asdrubal Cabrera? Hey, what can you do?
Stubborn reluctance to grant playing time to promising youngsters Conforto and Rosario until long after long after it was due? Self-inflicted wound.
Harvey bails on the team to party and sulk about his ex-girlfriend being with another man? Stuff happens.
The team blows up the incident into a multi-day tabloid story thanks to secrecy, leaks and poor damage control? Self-inflicted wound.
Collins is forced to play a catcher at third and second base due to last-second injuries? Out of their control.
General manager Sandy Alderson and owner Fred Wilpon give away one of their best hitters almost for free just to save a few bucks? Self-inflicted wound.
To say owner Wilpon, Alderson and Collins have no one to blame but themselves for this terrible season would be inaccurate. Much of the team’s issues have been out of their control. But all year they have compounded bad luck with poor decision-making and mismanagement. And that’s how you get Matt Harvey starting on short rest in a game that means nothing, as he works his way back from a serious injury.