Before Matt Harvey went down with an injury last season requiring Tommy John surgery, the near future for the New York Mets was looking very bright. This team has somewhat overachieved under manager Terry Collins, winning 74 games or more the past three seasons despite a horrendous payroll situation and a huge lack of talent on the field.
With Harvey — and fellow young pitching stud, Zack Wheeler — both up for the Mets at the end of 2013, many saw a glimpse of a promising future. But that future was put on hold with the loss of Harvey. He is a perennial Cy Young candidate, and I don’t see this team having a chance without him at the top of the rotation.
So, while the Mets fan base has been looking forward to 2014, it may be time to push that hope of competing back one year.
The front office, however, has not given up on the notion that it can compete in 2014 with the signings of Chris Young, Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon.
The Young and Colon signings can be seen as stop gap signings. Young was inked for one year and Colon for two. Young is someone with a lot of potential who has never developed, but if he can become this year’s Marlon Byrd for the Mets, then they could possibly flip him at the trade deadline for a prospect.
Colon will do his best to replace Harvey at the top of the rotation with Wheeler, but I have my doubts about a 40-year-old who is not far removed from a PED suspension.
The Curtis Granderson signing is much different. The Mets were willing to give him the fourth year he was looking for and will fork over $60 million over his contract. Granderson is coming off a disappointing year in which he suffered multiple injuries that only allowed him to get 214 at-bats. He’ll play the 2014 season at age 33.
Playing in Yankee Stadium, Granderson developed into quite the power hitter, knocking 40-plus balls out of the park in 2011 and 2012. With that added power, he also became the most notorious swing-and-miss guy in the league, striking out 169 times in 2011 and 195 times in 2012. His batting average has hovered around the .240s the past several years, with his on-base-percentage around .320.
Curtis Granderson does offer some protection behind David Wright, which should definitely be a big help, but I don’t think Granderson is the offensive-caliber player that will take this team to the next level.
Instead, I think Granderson is the type of player who will help bring this organization into a new era. Granderson is well-known around baseball as a likeable clubhouse guy who is great with the media. He’s played in New York and knows how to handle the extra media presence. He’ll be able to groom some of the top prospects, while adding a veteran presence in the everyday lineup.
When Harvey comes back in 2015, and the Mets are really ready to go out of the free agent market to spend, Curtis Granderson will be the voice of reason for other players to want to come play for the Mets.
There is no doubt this team is heading in the right direction with guys like Harvey, Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard — along with Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee — leading the pitching rotation. They’ve done the right thing in locking up fan-favorite Wright for possibly the rest of his career. But there is no need to rush the process with Harvey out for 2014.
The signings of Young, Granderson and Colon allow Collins to put a formidable team on the field every night and, with a little luck, they could be in a wild-card race late in the season. But I think grabbing players like Young and Colon also show that this organization is waiting until 2015 to make a strong push, and I believe that’s the right move here.
We already know Harvey is a big-leaguer. This year, Mets fans should look for Wheeler to take the next step, and possibly Syndergaard. Come this time next year, there will be a lot more optimism coming from the Mets fan base.