From “DaveSchneck” in the MetsToday comments section on Sunday:
On the matter of finding starters for this week, I am very very confused. I heard Alderson in his own voice this week state that the Mets’ top pitching prospects’ development and promotions to the show would be determined independent of need. Now, Harvey gets battered last night in AAA (ironically right after Wheeler got battered the night before at AA) and gets promoted to the bigs (ironically right after Santana comes down with and ankle injury right after he was battered Friday night). WTF? Please help me understand what is going on. Joe, is it me or is it just more from Mets administration saying one thing and doing something else?
Funny, the exact same thought entered my mind when I heard that Matt Harvey would be starting on Thursday. As a PR person in real life, I learned to appreciate Sandy Alderson’s ability to spin stories, temper expectations, make elusive statements, and otherwise work the media. To this point he’s done an outstanding job of being the figurehead and spokesperson of the Mets, and selling the idea that the organization is in a good place and going in the right direction. Alderson’s deftness in calming the natives with measured, thoughtful rhetoric is the fundamental difference separating him from Omar Minaya. And that’s exactly what the Mets have always needed, being in the media hotbed of New York. We don’t really know what’s happening behind the closed doors of the Mets front office, and we won’t see whether what they’re doing works until 2-3 years from now, so in the meantime, we need a public face appearing to assure us that there’s a plan, they’re sticking to it, and it’s going to result in success.
However, the Matt Harvey promotion pokes a hole in the veil of confidence hung by the Alderson administration.
Looking at the Mets’ current situation objectively, it makes absolutely perfect sense to bring up Harvey right now. The team is sinking in quicksand, and the starting rotation is in shambles. The club is in dire need of a starting pitcher for the simple, practical reason that one is required to begin a ballgame, and they also could use a spark — say, from an up and coming phenom from the farm? Harvey is the most logical answer, even if he’s “not ready” to pitch in the bigs.
However, Alderson painted himself into a corner with his consistent message alluded to by “DaveSchneck” above. Had Alderson not been so adamant, so clear, and so decisive about his stance on Harvey (and Wheeler), this promotion wouldn’t be controversial. But now that the Mets are deviating from their publicly stated plan, it raises questions. Is there really a plan? Who’s in charge? Was this an Alderson decision, or a Jeff Wilpon decision? Was it really based on the team’s on-field need, or the need to put fannies in the seats? Is it the best move for Harvey, when Alderson has been telling us all along that it wouldn’t be?
From this point forward, every public message coming from the Mets is going to be put under a microscope. For over a year, that wasn’t necessarily the case — the media and a large portion of the Mets fan base was quick to accept whatever Alderson was expressing, even if his answers were vague and evasive. He had a free pass, but now, it might be revoked.
For example, two days ago, Alderson responded with this when asked whether the Mets would be buyers or sellers:
“It’s not a question of what we need to see on the field to make us buyers, it’s what we see on the field that causes us not to be buyers,” Alderson said. “The presumption here is that we’re buyers, and it has been. Realistically, the next seven, eight, 10 games become important for us.”
Three days ago, that doublespeak was acceptable. The Mets are buyers until they’re not buyers, is the gist. Had Omar Minaya said this, he’d have been basted in the blogs and by the beat writers. After all, the Mets are spinning out of control, in desperate need of a starting pitcher, bullpen help, and a righthanded bat — at minimum — and the GM’s answer is to wait and see if the team will turn into non-buyers ten days from now? Seriously? The Mets need holes filled ASAP yesterday, not on July 31. By the deadline, the season’s fate will be established.
There’s one way Alderson can get get through this: by Harvey pitching well. If Matt Harvey throws seven shutout innings on Thursday, and follows it up with another strong start in San Francisco, most will glaze over this glaring misstep in messaging. But the questions will remain on the other side of the now-pierced veil.
What’s your thought on this matter? If you had confidence in Sandy Alderson’s regime, has it been shaken at all by this about-face? Do you agree with the Harvey promotion? Do you believe that Alderson is truly running the show? Post your opinion in the comments.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.