“There’s no such thing as too much pitching.”
I wish I could attribute that quote to a particular source, but its been used to death over the last few years. It has the air of truth, for sure, as pitcher injuries seem to pile up like leaves in autumn, or Jose Reyes triples.
Today, we found that Chris Young’s shoulder is injured. Again. It’s a tear of the capsule, much the same as the injury he had in 2010, and much the same as the injury that Johan Santana is recovering from. This news, plus the confirmation by Dr. James Andrews that Jenrry Mejia will need season-ending Tommy John surgery, leaves the Mets without both their top rotation starter this season, as well as their top pitching prospect. Granted, I didn’t expect Young to keep pitching like Greg Maddux, but it still hurts the team a great deal to lose the tall right-hander.
While the hole in the rotation is fixable (Dillon Gee makes a fine stopgap measure), the loss of Mejia eliminates the next best option if someone else gets injured – not to mention a fresh injection of hope that the franchise could’ve used after they drop out of contention entirely in July/August.
Bad news, Sandy Alderson…your cupboard is bare.
You can set the blame on Omar Minaya if you’d like – but in truth, this isn’t something easily chalked up to Minaya’s perceived (true or not – I still need more time to decide) incompetence. Chris Young was a calculated risk going into 2011. Anyone with half a brain knew that he was a walking, talking, Princeton-graduating timebomb waiting to go off, and blow his talented right arm to smithereens. Chris Young has trouble staying healthy. And the Mets basically said, “That’s ok. We’ll take what we can get.”
As for Jenrry Mejia, there’s no accounting for this at all – other than the fact that pitching prospects, and young pitchers of all stripe, get injured all the damn time.
What hurts the Mets the most is that there’s no real organizational depth to mine. The optimist/sadist in me wants the Mets to jump Matt Harvey directly to the majors. Slot him into Young’s spot in the order. Hell, how bad could it be?
…it could be really, really bad, my sane half says.
No, the Mets starting rotation now consists of Mike Pelfrey (average at best), R.A. Dickey (average, but awesome), Jon Niese (maybe slightly above average), Dillon Gee (who really knows?), and Chris Capuano (average, maybe?). And if one of those guys gets injured, there isn’t a single capable, viable major league starter to step in in the minor leagues. Right now, the best bet is Pat Misch, who no one would mistake for anything above a league-replacement starter. And while I’d love to be able to count on Johan Santana coming back and pitching great in June or July, he’s no sure thing.
With two of their seven best starters out for the season (presumably), the Mets need to go out and get another major-league-capable starter, if only for insurance purposes. I’d settle for Dirk Hayhurst* at this point.
Can you imagine a clubhouse with Hayhurst and Dickey in it? Truly an awesome idea.
But more realistically, the Mets will putter along for another month or two, until they’ve determined that there’s no chance at competing for the wild card…or until Chris Capuano or Jon Niese suffer some sort of injury and the team is forced to act.
There are pieces on this Mets team that can bring back some kind of return. Pieces that won’t be around next year, or aren’t worth keeping around indefinitely. Do I think the Mets should blow up the core and start again fresh? Absolutely not. Do I think that there needs to be dramatic, decisive action taken to fix a struggling franchise. Absolutely.
In my next post I’ll lay out what direction I think the team should take – and don’t worry, I’m not one of the guys that thinks the team should trade Jose Reyes for half the Giants and a pile of magic beans. I’m a realist. But there’s no use at all waiting around to see if the team can contend this year. The Met front office has a responsibility to improve the team in the long term, and they should do it right now. They’re a 15-19 team with a negative run differential, and there’s no powerful reason to think they’ll get better. What else should they do?