Where Is The Adult In The Room?

Less than a year after being named GM of the Mets, Sandy Alderson was described as “the adult in the room” by Joel Sherman.

My question today for the Mets: where is the “adult in the room”?

Sherman wrote this in response to the Francisco Rodriguez trade in July 2011:

Look, Alderson was hired because the Mets needed an adult in the room. They needed someone who made reasonable, big-picture choices rather than continue with the decision-of-the-moment way in which the Mets had operated for so long.

The tidbit was picked up prolifically and celebrated by every corner of the media and blogosphere.

While I actually enjoy Joel Sherman’s writing (I bet you find that hard to believe), to me that quote was unfairly damning to Omar Minaya. By calling Alderson the “adult,” Sherman was effectively calling Minaya the “child.” Even if Sherman was referring to Jeff Wilpon as the child — and he should’ve been, as he knew better than anyone the real story behind the Mets’ organizational woes since Nelson Doubleday was pushed out — Sherman had to be aware that most of his readers (and re-tweeters) would be thinking of Minaya as the child.

But I digress …

We’re here in the present, and I have to ask: “where the heck is the adult in the room right now?”

I ask this because the immediate response to Matt Harvey‘s partially torn UCL, in regard to whether he’d be shut down for the rest of the season, was this:

” ”

Nothing. Not a word about shutting it down. Nothing about Harvey’s 2013 season being over. Indeed, as this post is being written, 45 minutes after midnight, the Mets had yet to officially place Harvey on the disabled list.

Where is the adult in the room? The one who stands up, goes to the microphone, and announces that the organization’s best hope for future success would be shut down, effective immediately, because his health far outweighs the last 30 or so games of a lost season?

Instead, the “adult” told us this:

“It’s possible he won’t pitch rest of the season”

It’s POSSIBLE? What? Is this some kind of altered reality that Sandy Alderson is living in? Why would there be any question whatsoever?

Alderson went on to reveal that Harvey had been experiencing forearm tightness for “some time,” yet Captain Teflon made sure to add,

“This was a surprise to all of us, including Matt himself, who has not really experienced elbow pain. There were other issues as well over the course of the season.”

Um. Oh. Soooo … you’re the only team in MLB that isn’t aware that forearm tightness is an indication of a UCL strain and precursor to UCL damage? Really?

Again I ask, “where is the adult in the room?”

After Harvey’s last start, and before the terrible news was reported, NJ.com relayed this:

Most of all, the Mets have monitored Harvey’s throwing motion on video to assure his mechanics remain sharp. Mets coaches evaluate “to see this guy’s arm is dragging or he’s starting to lower his release point,” Collins said. In either case, the risk of an arm injury is increased.

“If Matt Harvey starts to change mechanics and starts dropping his arm, that would probably be a red flag that it’s time to give him some time off,” Collins said.

Really? This is a Major League Manager speaking, and notes coming from a Major League coaching and training staff, in the 21st century? An entity that generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year? These comments are exactly the same as one might hear from the pitching coach of the 1948 Washington Senators?

Yes, seeing a lowered release point, or “dropping” of the arm, is an indication of an arm problem — specifically, a shoulder problem. We’ve known this even before scientists started studying pitching mechanics (and human kinetics in general). We’ve also known — for at least a decade, if not several — that forearm tightness is an indication of an elbow issue, and is independent of velocity.

One more time: “where is the adult in the room?”

It’s clear that Harvey was sent back to the mound every five days, despite the known risk involved, because without him, there was a fear that the Mets would have trouble selling tickets and become irrelevant. The “adults” absolved themselves of responsibility by making sure that everyone understands that Matt Harvey never said he was feeling “pain.”

Am I off base? If so, please feel free to present your hypothesis and set me straight. I call ‘em as I see ‘em, and I’m disgusted to have witnessed this tragic comedy evolve.

I’m done on the soapbox — for now.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Izzy August 27, 2013 at 7:45 am
    Attacking Sandy Alderson makes you a lot of enemies. Seriously, do people realize this org is so inept that it is worse than even Jerry Manuel, who despite all of his many short comings, was at least smart enough to immediately pull his star from a game when he limped a little, despite the statements that he (REYES) was OK. Even Jerry Manuel realized that a player does not know his body as well as a medical evaluation and test. The genius upstairs and his puppet don’t even know that. I wonder how many cortizone shots they gave him! Remember, Pelfrey said that’s how they got him thru ’11. The player wants to play and will almost always lie on the side of saying he’s ok. The manager’s job and the budinski GMs job is to be, as you say the grown ups. Its the same in football where concussions were ignored and are now given the tiniest of lip service. $$$ for today is all that matters. The future, well that may be someone elses job. But the good news for Alderson and all his blind devotees….Excuse in place for ’14 and ’15.
  2. Walnutz15 August 27, 2013 at 8:48 am
    Just beyond numb to anything remotely associated with the health of key players within this organization. It’s one of the darkest comedies in sports, for sure.

    In listening to the various interviews yesterday, however – I was also blown away that we had:

    - Terry Collins (apparently) completely blindsided by the idea that Harvey was having forearm issues…….yet,

    - Alderson telling the media that he’s had lingering forearm stuff since ST, making it like the Mets have known more about it than it coming as a complete and total surprise to them.

    Good to see there’s been “improved communication”, especially when it comes to the most important player we’ve had in years.

    Best of luck to Mr. Harvey……and really – to us, as Met fans.

    I still like Alderson more than the idiot that routinely lied to us about player health, and attempted to pass off his ineptitude on a Met beat writer.

    …..and keep in mind, I didn’t mind Minaya all that much until then – either.

    And please, one of these decades…..get rid of Dan Warthen:

    9,000 pitching injuries under his “tutelage” the past few years:

    Maine
    Perez
    Pelfrey
    Feliciano (post-Met burnout)
    Gee
    Niese
    Harvey
    Hefner
    Mejia
    Byrdak
    Edgin
    Francisco
    Parnell
    Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

    WHO’S NEXT?

    (I’d rather not find out.)

    • John August 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm
      Great point as to the pitchers hurt. While I agree Warthen is to blame, no one talks about Ray Ramirez, who is the trainer all these years and is responsible to prevent these things from happening.
  3. MF August 27, 2013 at 8:50 am
    Good Morning Joe! As I have stated before, I have been a reader of your blog for 7 years now, and I love your approach because you play devil’s advocate, and back it up with science and facts.

    As I read through the reports of how the team “doctors” have been treating Harvey for tightness and increasing discomfort in this throwing forearm, I just have to wonder about their level of competency, once again…

    If this was my team, the instant any pitcher complains about forearm tightness or discomfort is where I would order the team physician to schedule an MRI immediately.

    Unless they are also trying to save in medical expenses… Absurd at every freaking level…

    • Joe Janish August 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm
      Thanks MF! Your continued loyalty and support is greatly appreciated. Agreed re: the medical treatment and MRIs. With all the millions these teams throw around on utility infielders, fifth outfielders, and middling relievers, one would think they’d consider spending a little more on injury prevention — especially for their star players. It boggles the mind.
  4. DanB August 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm
    Smells like Jelf Wilpon’s influence, as if they won’t lose ticket sales if they don’t announce anything. The GMs change but they style stays the same.
    • Joe Janish August 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm
      If it smells like a duck …
  5. Jon C August 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm
    Joe, thought you might be interested in reading this: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1751189-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-matt-harveys-elbow-injury-and-recovery

    wonder if you have any thoughts

    some interesting notes include:

    –”advanced” research at PitchFX from fangraphs indicated that Harvey showed “no” sign of fatigue

    –a biomechanical evaluation of a pitcher would take half an hour and only cost around $1000, yet only two teams in baseball do it: Brewers and Orioles

    —1/3 of major league have had Tommy John surgery at least once in their careers (I couldn’t believe this!)

    • Joe Janish August 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm
      Thanks Jon!

      A few quick responses:

      - Pitchers with elbow issues generally do not show ANY “traditional” signs of fatigue (i.e., arm dropping, velocity reduction). The red flags are elbow soreness, command issues, and/or forearm tightness.

      - The “advanced research” from fangraphs is almost certainly quantitative analysis. To understand and prevent pitching injuries, one must make both qualitative and quantitative analysis. (Qualitatitve = watching mechanics.) The numbers are only half the story.

      - I have heard from insiders that there are a few other clubs doing their own biomechanical evaluations, but keeping it secret for competitive edge.

      - the # of TJ surgeries is absolutely ridiculous. Makes me believe we are at least 50 years away from baseball accepting science.

      • Paul Festa August 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm
        You’re right, TJ surgeries have gotten out of hand. This is only a PARTIAL list of players who have had it:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_John_surgery#List_of_notable_baseball_players_who_underwent_the_surgery

      • Walnutz15 August 28, 2013 at 8:17 am
        - the # of TJ surgeries is absolutely ridiculous.

        ^ And most lists don’t even include the kids who had the procedure done prior to even turning Pro.

        Perfect example: Andrew Bailey had TJ Surgery during his Junior Year of college, after a barking elbow cut his season short.

        The procedure’s commonplace, but the expected results afterward are anything but a sure thing.

      • DaveSchneck August 28, 2013 at 11:36 am
        Joe,
        It looks to me like you have two separate points in your piece, one that I agree on and one that I for the most part don’t.

        The first point is that MLB teams do not use modern techniques to evaluate injury risk, predict injuries, and less the likelihood through avoidance and mechanical adjustments. This point makes sense.

        The second point, the one that criticizes the Mets directly, I am reluctant to accept. Yes, their track record has been poor, and the demonstrations of communication gaps with the manager and GM don’t help. But, when putting up a list of pitching injuries under this regime, or under Warthen, that is not sufficient evidence. It needs to be compared to the occurances of all other organizations. yes, there is an epidemic of pitching injuries, TJs specifically, but this is across the sport, not just in the majors as Nuts points out. The Braves are well respected for their ability to consistently develop pitchers, and they have been hit by a ton of TJs in just the last two years. This is a fine call to determine when a guy can “play with pain” vs. asking to sit or being forced to sit. It is a harsh industry, and only the individual players really know, but there is no doubt that the majority, if every starter in baseball, performs under 100% each year. How much of this critique is simply monday morning QBing? Predicting an arm injury is like predicting a person will get cancer…it is a 50/50 proposition. I think the bigger question is what proportion of guys in the past could log 250+ innings without getting hurt, at what age, and how does that compare to now? I think this is the type of analysis that has evolved to the “innings” limit, with its pros and cons. What if Harvey was just throwing his slider too hard too often, as part of his intense competitive nature. as Ojeda suggested? Who is at fault then? How could that be prevented?

        • Joe Janish August 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm
          Dave, maybe you are confusing my original post with notes in the comments from others? I didn’t make a list of Mets pitchers who were injured, and didn’t use it for evidence of anything.

          I’m critical of the Mets for completely blowing off Harvey’s forearm tightness, and stand by my feeling that I’m being completely fair and reasonable with that criticism. I don’t disagree that this is a MLB-wide problem. This is a baseball blog first, focused on the Mets second, and since it’s focused on the Mets, it’s the Mets who bear my wrath.

        • DaveSchneck August 29, 2013 at 2:46 pm
          Joe,
          My reference was to Nuts’ list of names, not yours, so sorry for the confusion. I generally agree with all of your points, my only point is whether the Mets are any worse than anyone in baseball, and at what point does the manager become accountable for injury management when he and the staff are depending on a combination of accuracy and truthfulness from both the player and the immediate medical staff.
  6. DanB August 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm
    Byrd and Buck traded. White flag is up. Makes you wonder what they would of been worth on July 31st.
    • chris August 27, 2013 at 5:33 pm
      Hopefully less than Dilson Herrera! Is this getting whatever is possible or is he a legitimate future answer at 2nd base?
      • friend August 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm
        By keeping him an extra four weeks, they burned about half his remaining value.
      • Joe August 27, 2013 at 6:22 pm
        He played in the “future’s game,” so he must be the future! There also is a PTNL.

        As to “white flag,” who cares about John Buck, really? As to Byrd, Dekker is up. How much of a “white flag” is he as compared to Byrd, really?

      • Joe August 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm
        PS As to gaining more, in effect, the implication is Sandy Alderson is lying, since he claimed otherwise. But, then, some here think he is a lying something something.

        I don’t. Who knows what other teams would have given them before? They, e.g., might have thought someone else would become available.

        • chris August 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm
          My thought is that 4 weeks ago (or 1 week ago for that matter) Marte wasn’t injured and there wasn’t a motivated buyer for Byrd. But no one will never know.
        • Walnutz15 August 28, 2013 at 8:19 am
          Bingo, Chris — factor in that they’re now playing from a 2nd place position (Wild Card)…..and the Pirates start playing with an increased sense of urgency to win the Division.

          Bringing Byrd on at least attempts to safeguard against a debacle of a September, with Marte out for at least 2 weeks.

        • DaveSchneck August 28, 2013 at 11:25 am
          Nuts,
          I an an Alderson skeptic, not a hater like Izzy, but I must say that I am happy with this deal on all fronts. I do think Alderson’s explanation that the return was better now makes sense given the Pirate circumstance that you describe. This is a good move for 2014 as well, as it will geive Alderson more prospect depth to make a multi-player trade or two, and it allows them to see more of Brown and Den Dekker, either or both of whom can play supporting roles next year. Mayo has this kid as th e9th best 2B prospect in all of MILB, and that is an excellent get on Aug 27, so we must give credit where credit is due.
        • Walnutz15 August 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm
          I’m neither, a parishioner of St. Sandy’s – nor am I looking to bash past GM’s any more than they should be (Minaya could be taken to task with far too many of the guys he brought in, at the amounts and years he affored – in addition to making the organization an even bigger sideshow than it needed to be — so I bash him from a perspective that sees him deserving much of it).

          Bottom line is: anyone who works for the Mets reports to the 2-headed clown in the circus up-top.

          RE: The Trade

          I found it interesting to read that Starling Marte’s injury was more serious than they initially figured it to be; which is a clear indication that the Bucco’s went into “Duaner Sanchez ’06″ mode yesterday.

          Marte, by all accounts, won’t even be cleared to swing a bat for at least 2 weeks. Factor in that he’ll need to get himself back into game shape – amidst a serious pennant race for the division…..and the need for a guy like Byrd becomes that much more.

          Hardly a drop in the bucket that the Mets get a deal “this” favorable a month ago. Like everyone else has been talking now, I’m curious to see who the PTBNL will be. Hopefully, it’s another nice piece.

          Just goes to show you that things can still be done, even after you think there’s “no shot” after the deadline passes. Thankfully, d’Arnaud is back on the field and healthy – which let them grab something for Buck, other than just letting him walk in the off-season. (I didn’t think that was ever going to happen, especially with the way d’Arnaud was “progressing” — on track for a September call-up at best for a majority of the summer.)

          The way it was going, I would have taken Buck back next year in a back-up “mentor” capacity…..but who knows how he’d like to continue on with his own career, independent of d’Arnaud learning the ropes.

          Overall, a good job by Alderson, especially since the rest of this year means less than nothing now…..and believe me, I mean every syllable of that. It’s a complete and total lost final month, other than taking a look at a couple of the kids in smaller than small samples.

          Would be great if he were able to land an intriguing OF-type, even if it were someone who had to break-in at Triple-A and “play his way onto the roster” by ST. There are a few of those guys on the Pirate depth chart, who don’t figure to be in their plans by the end of the year.

          And, of course, is there’s some other kind of “out of left field” addition – I’d be happy with that, as well. No issue whatsoever in taking lottery tickets at this point in time…..neither of the guys traded yesterday figured heavily into our plans going forward.

          I’m still really shocked that the Reds didn’t block the Pirates from acquiring Byrd.

          Not that the Pirates’ play over the past 2 decades would be any clear indication of it, but the Pirates and Reds are pretty big rivals.

          Should also be noted, that the Mets sent $250k to the Pirates in this deal.

        • Joe Janish August 29, 2013 at 12:44 am
          I’m glad Buck is gone, as I never saw him as any sort of positive “mentor.” He was unimpressive calling pitches and with his defense overall. It was clear there was a rift between he and Harvey. He’s a goddamn drama queen, setting a terrible example for Queen Ike, closet queen Satin, and other youngsters. Just because he’s been a “good guy” in the clubhouse and a suck-up to managers and coaches doesn’t necessarily make him an ideal mentor. He was OK in that role but not so great that I wanted to see him back.

          As for the $250K – yeah, nice to see them spending, finally. My guess is that they figure there won’t be much spending in the offseason, mainly because there simply aren’t many elite players on which to spend — and not much chance of them wanting to come to Flushing. So may as well spend now, with all those millions coming off the books in a few months.

        • Walnutz15 August 29, 2013 at 8:43 am
          Independent of whether or not we cared for John Buck (I could take him or leave him, personally – and didn’t care if he was brought back in 2014….but would have been fine with him as a 2nd string some-timer):

          I actually like the deal a lot.

          Getting Vic Black as the PTBNL is a major plus for the bullpen, as a healthy arm — for now — who’s experiencing great success as a Triple-A closer.

          Tighten up some command of his pitches, and you could potentially have a guy who’s already better than Bobby Parnell.

          Maybe then, all of the irrational clinging onto Parnell can cease – and the Mets could look to flip him?

          That, of course, would be solely dependent upon his health……and I’d read yesterday where he’ll have another exam in a few weeks to see if surgery is required.

          LOL – ahh, the health of Met players. We need to watch out with Black……he was initially drafted by the Mets in ’06. Does that mean he’ll just get hurt within his 1st calendar year in the organization?

  7. Paul Festa August 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm
    Alderson should have definitively stated that Harvey would be shut down. To even hint that he might not be is insane.

    Also, even if Alderson is the adult in the room, the problem is he reports to two petulant toddlers.

    We can talk about the GMs, and they all had (have) their good and bad points, but ultimately, whether it was Phillips, Minaya, or now Alderson, they’re all taking orders from the Wilpons. And that’s depressing.

  8. DanB August 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm
    Don’t misunderstand me, I am glad they did the trade. I just wish more players were traded and done sooner. As for whether Alder son lies tothe public, I hope so if it is in the team’s best interest. By the way Paul, I agree with you — it is the Wilpons.
  9. Micalpalyn August 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm
    Joe et al:
    My only wish is that the mets are comprehensive in getting Matt fixed. Phil Humber, Pelfrey, and mejia have all been heavily mis- diagnosed. I hope they don’t just put a band aid and have him back in April.
    -as for the trade. Good work. Anderson held buck and Byrd this long and then still gets back a worthy return?

    Anyway, this is just day1 of the post Harvey season, lots of waiting and hoping.

  10. Stephen August 28, 2013 at 2:28 am
    Extraordinarily well said as was your game report predicting his troubles. Believe me or not (I’m a former scout and a kinesiologist) I had noted to friends when I first saw Harvey’s motion that I feared an elbow problem. He is a bit of what we used to call a “short armer” and his increased use of his slider, combined with his velocity and explosion to the plate were worrisome.

    However, when I heard that he had been suffering from forearm soreness and that Collins did not know??!!! Steam came out of my ears.

    As you stated, every organization, orthopedist and semi competent trainer knows that is a symptom of either ucl or mcl problems. Incredible.

    I don’t know which is worse, that Collins didn’t know, or that the training staff ALLOWED him to not know.

    • argonbunnies August 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm
      Any thoughts on why MLB teams don’t hire kinesiologists?
    • Joe Janish August 29, 2013 at 12:47 am
      Stephen, thanks for visiting and adding to the conversation.

      Are you still a kinesiologist? Do you apply it toward baseball, or did you in the past? I’m very anxious to learn, and would love for you to share your insight.

  11. Dan42 August 28, 2013 at 6:12 am
    Disgusting.
  12. argonbunnies August 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm
    I don’t buy the idea that Jeff Wilpon dictates every word that comes out of Alderson’s mouth, or every roster move Alderson does or doesn’t make. Alderson’s been in charge of stuff his whole adult life; do you think he’d have stuck with this job for 3 years just being some fool’s puppet? No chance. He’s simply behind the curve in terms of his decisions, and thinks his listeners are morons when it’s time to speak publicly. Talk is just talk; it’s the conservative “well this way seems to be good enough for everyone else” approach that drives me nuts.

    Caring about OBP and hiring weirdos like Rick Peterson in the ’90s was supposed to signal an outside-the-box thinker, but in his Mets tenure Alderson has been anything but. His claim to fame, in departure from the previous regime? Not signing pricey free agents. That’s it. And there’s no evidence that even that is due to anything other than budget concerns.

    My take is that Alderson thought he was joining a team with something to lose, where bold and risky moves were not called for. This wasn’t your tiny market A’s, this was a New York team! All he had to do was not sign Oliver Perez, and everything would be fine! In reality, the organization was a wreck when he arrived, a perfect opportunity to reinvent it from the ground up using new techniques (like science) to get an edge on other teams. It was an opportunity that’s been squandered. Maybe the Mets will lose 120 next year, Alderson will leave, and some radical newcomer will get a shot to start building their 5-year plan to contention…

    • NormE August 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm
      It’s a nice thought, Argon, but with the Wilpons still around it’s not going to happen. I don’t believe that Jeffy dictates every decision, but the short-sightedness of ownership has to play a role in the running of the team. Selig loves the Wilpon’s loyalty and Sandy will do nothing to upset that cart. Which means he will acquiesce to the Wilpon’s desires. If and when Sandy leaves it will probably be with Bud’s blessings or because he has determined that his assent to the Commissionership has been blocked.
      • argonbunnies August 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm
        Ah, okay, the idea that Sandy’s putting in his time for future MLB rewards makes more sense than losing a spine at age 65. If this was the deal he signed up for, that makes sense. That would make utter lies of many of his public quotes, though. I’m not sure what to believe.
  13. Timo August 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm
    Joe, I guess you aren’t drinking the Kool-aid like my brother Jeff. I agree 100% with you. I am happy they FINALLY traded Bryd and Buck. I really don’t care if Dilson works out. Byrd and Buck weren’t going to help us anymore. This kid could help in the future. Also lets see what we got in our young players. This way we know what we need to get next year.
    • Joe Janish August 29, 2013 at 12:48 am
      Agreed!

      Jeff doesn’t know squat about baseball anyway.

  14. argonbunnies September 1, 2013 at 10:44 pm
    Looks like we should expect Harvey to miss 2015 too. Check this out: slider-throwing prospect Luis Mateo made his second start of the year on April 15 with Binghamton and had to leave with elbow pain. He then rested and rehabbed the elbow until early June, when he came back to pitch two relief stints in St. Lucie. He got shelled, and then had Tommy John surgery in mid-June.