You’ve probably heard by now, Texas Rangers fans, but Matt Harvey has been designated for assignment. While whispers of the Rangers’ involvement grow louder, is this a good move for the franchise?
This is news, but shouldn’t really be news, but is, apparently, in fact, news.
On the one hand, Harvey is a just-turned 29-year-old pitcher with 10 career WAR, a lifetime ERA of 3.66, an ERA+ of 105, and a 1.192 WHIP. Guys with stat lines such as that don’t often find themselves dangling six weeks into a season.
On the other hand, though, we’re talking about a guy who hasn’t cracked even 100 innings pitched since 2015; a guy whose ERA hasn’t sat below 6.70 in over 22 starts and two seasons. Not to mention that his reputation isn’t one that seems to do himself any favors. His designation for assignment hit hard for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, but, there was almost a sense of relief in his press conference comments.
The overwhelming sense throughout the Mets organization seemed to be a collective, “finally.” I saw the word “breakup” used to describe what’s happening between Harvey and his (soon to be former) club; that’s perhaps the perfect description. Reading between the lines, it’s hard to even find evidence that his teammates were upset about Harvey’s absence; it was tight lips and tightropes yesterday in the clubhouse.
After all, the Mets are playing good baseball this season without Matt Harvey; one can only imagine the eggshells in the clubhouse with the former (emphasis on the word) ace still believing that he’s a guy who should take the bump every fifth day.
Like it or not, Matt, even with Jacob deGrom out with a hyperextended elbow — even with Zach Wheeler allowing 8 runs last night and Steven Matz still trying to figure out Major League Baseball and Jason Vargas still apparently “stretching out his arm” — even with all of these hiccups, you’re the one that needed to go.
Which brings us to the Rangers, and their starting five (or six, seven…whatever):
Hamels: Lots of strikeouts, and more home runs than we’re used to. He’ll figure it out.
Colon: He pitched in what appeared to be a non-consensual home run derby last night against the Red Sox, but he’s been fun, and steady, and a strike thrower. It might not last (or maybe it will?), but the Rangers are gonna ride the horse that is Big Sexy for as long as the can.
Minor: Six starts, 33 innings. As “meh” as Minor has been, it appears that the Rangers are taking the longview with him, stretching that arm out a little at a time. Minor’s relative upside provides more than enough reason for them to keep rolling him out there.
Fister: Fister!! I’d sure as hell like to see more innings out of him, but he’s only allowed 8 runs across 25 innings. That 2.88 ERA shines like a diamond amongst Rangers starters, as well.
Perez: I mean. Ugh. I don’t know. It’s like watching a train wreck, every time. Fall behind, give up a hit…fall behind, walk the batter…fall behind, home run. A fan can only take so much!
Moore: Eesh. What can you say? Who didn’t see this coming? There is no person in baseball, save Matt Moore himself, and I guess Jon Daniels, who thought that Moore would be much more than he’s been through six starts. A 7.67 ERA? Sounds right. 18 strikeouts and 13 walks? Sure. 43 hits allowed in 29 innings? Perez-ian!
Harvey is, for obvious reasons, being linked to Texas as a landing spot. And, to be sure, there are a few reasons outside of our relative lack of pitching depth: namely, Dan Warthen.
Warthen was Harvey’s pitching coach in New York until the season, and though a pitching coach can’t always offset the severity of things like Tommy John and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a familiar face (and one who has directly been a key to a guy’s success) is surely a great place to start.
The Rangers seem to do well with grown men who need a little more, shall we say, “support” around them. They did everything in their power to keep Josh Hamilton breathing during his tenure in Texas, and though Matt Bush has given no (zero, none, zilch) indication that he’s as susceptible to collapsing on himself as Hamilton was, the righty does have some steps in place in his life that keep him steady.
(To be clear, I love Matty Bush, and he checks all of the boxes for me re: being a hard-working, reliable, do-whatever-he’s-asked teammate. Love that guy a whole lot.)
Even with guys who might not have such directly debilitating issues (say, Odor?), the Rangers seem to know how to manage young players with egos that far outshine their performance. Though, to be fair to Roogie, nobody has ever had to question his heart, or his hustle, or his love for baseball. He’s got a ton of all of that, even if it’s not always showing up in the box score.
Do I want the Rangers to scratch the itch with Matt Harvey?
…I guess so?
Can they get him for a reasonable package?
Are the Mets being honest about his value, or will they cling to the 2013-15 “Dark Knight” shenanigans, demanding MLB-ready talent?
Perhaps most importantly, will Harvey come in wanting to work?
Will he take his forced change of scenery in stride?
Is he a good teammate? (Can I write that sentence without laughing?)
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I’m not sure if Matt Harvey will be great again. He’s had success since Tommy John, but it’s the recovery from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome that seems less of a sure thing. Baseball has shown, time and time again, that there are teams and coaches willing to weather storms with players who show (or have shown) great promise.
The obvious question is whether or not Matt Harvey himself is willing to; if he’s willing to learn, or re-learn, or — here’s the word — humble himself, even just a little bit. A little bit often goes a long way.
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The Rangers are absolutely going to call the Mets about Harvey. Between Fister, Moore, Colon, Chavez, and even Tim Lincecum, Texas has become a sanctuary, of sorts, for pitchers whose careers are largely in the rearview. While that may seem uncalled for with a pitcher as young as Harvey, as my mother says, “the proof is in the pudding.”
I’m perfectly in the middle on the Rangers and Matt Harvey. Couldn’t care, either way. He is certainly not going to turn the Rangers into contenders this season, and, honestly, the last thing they need is another starter who can’t go deep into ballgames.
Here’s my bottom line: Looking at numbers and not names, Matt Harvey isn’t a good pitcher.
Looking at numbers instead of names, I’d rather Texas call up Ariel Jurado or Yohander Mendez, maybe even Connor Sadzeck. At least those guys offer some flexibility between starting and relief.
The parts of me that want to be excited at the prospect of acquiring a (here’s a dumb word) potential frontline starter under the age of 72 sounds wonderful, but the Mets ain’t dummies. Harvey hasn’t been that for quite some time.
Worst case, Harvey comes over, stinks up the place, and finds himself in like company with Perez and Moore.
Best case? Well, whatever. It’s not even worth thinking about.
The next few days should be interesting ones for Matt Harvey. Texas (and approximately 28 others clubs) will come and kick the tires on the still-under-30 righty.
Speaking for Rangers fans everywhere, I only hope that, if they decide there’s some tread left on Harvey, they come in with an offer which matches their expectations.