Mets dumping Matt Harvey is really what’s best for everyone
From Dark Knight to a dark cloud, Matt Harvey’s roller-coaster career with the Mets came to an end Friday when he refused a minor league assignment to work out his massive pitching problems.
This move was good for everyone.
Harvey regressed terribly from spring training and this was a decision the Mets had to make once Harvey declined their offer to work out his woes in the minor leagues.
This was a pitcher who was trying to make his way back to the rotation as a fifth starter and had lost veto power after the comic book superstardom of his early years to the uphill climb of overcoming Tommy John and thoracic outlet syndrome surgeries.
Baseball can be cruel. But it also is fair. Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland were not invested in Harvey like the past regime was. They have much bigger problems to worry about than keeping Harvey happy as a mop-up man in the bullpen while trying to get his career back together.
General manager Sandy Alderson, Callaway and Eiland all made it clear they liked Harvey and want the best for him, but this comeback would have to be done on their terms, and not with Harvey dictating the moves.
“His stuff is not there,” Eiland told The Post before Friday’s 8-7 loss to the Rockies at Citi Field. “I don’t mean to be negative or crude, the stuff was not there. In all my experiences of putting guys in the bullpen, going as far back as Phil Hughes with the Yankees, almost immediately their stuff ticks up. It just didn’t work. … When you are trying to win Major League Baseball games, it’s hard to have a guy rehabbing, it’s not fair to him or the team.’’
That is the bottom line.
When you are the Dark Knight, extra baggage comes with the talent. When you are just trying to make it back to the rotation and the team just got swamped by the first-place Braves, they are not going to wait around for you to get it together if there is no glimpse of progress.
What made this perplexing to Eiland and Callaway was the fact Harvey showed positive signs in spring training and his first start, but then went backwards.
“There was not the same arm speed, there was not the same whip that we saw in spring training to getting it through,’’ Eiland told me. “He was really having to work really hard to generate something. The stuff wasn’t there and that’s why we wanted Matt to go down to the minor leagues, take a deep breath, get out of this environment, work in the minors and see if that stuff would come back.’’
In the majors it is about stuff. It’s not about going to Los Angeles for a party when you might pitch the next day out of the bullpen. It’s not about how good you were before you were hit with injuries.
The Mets were willing to hang with Harvey if he went to the minors and cleaned up his mechanics. Harvey did not want to hear any of that and was out the door soon after being given the option. He will find work. Pitching is so poor in the majors he will get another shot, maybe he will make the most of it. He was out of here anyway as a free agent after the season.
This relationship was coming to a bitter end. Bobby Cox told me in spring training there was “no way’’ Harvey would return to the Mets.
“It’s hard to find an inning here or there for him,’’ Eiland said, “as you are trying to win games, it’s not fair to him, No. 1, or the team. It didn’t work out.
“I hope someone takes a shot with him. I like Matt Harvey as a person. I wish him well. He’s still a young man, but he has had a lot of physical issues — Tommy John and TOS — who has come back better and stronger after that, I hope he is the first one, I really do.’’
For Harvey and the Mets, hope was no longer an option.
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