(Matt Harvey – Photo by Neil Miller – Sportsday Wire)
Matt Harvey’s comments on Saturday about his 180-innings limit show his loyalties are to his agent, Scott Boras, and not to the Mets. Harvey basically said that he will shut himself down when he hits the innings limit, with the playoffs playing no part in his thinking.
This is exactly what the Mets and their long-suffering fans did not want to hear, as they are on the verge of their first playoff appearance since 2006. They expected Harvey to relish the chance to lead them to the World Series.
Harvey said on Saturday that he has operated all season under the assumption that he would be shut down once he has reached 180 innings, as prescribed by Dr. James Andrews.
Harvey said of the innings limit, “I’ve been on the phone with Dr. Andrews. I’ve been on the phone with Scott. Dr. Andrews said his limit was 180. That’s what Scott, or Dr. Andrews had said. But, for me, I’ve got 166 innings. I don’t know any much more than what I have to do Tuesday. And that’s go out and beat the Nationals.”
The thinking about this whole issue was if the Mets would shut Harvey down when he reached 180 innings. I doubt many thought Harvey would do it himself. Why would a player voluntarily pull himself from a possible World Series contender?
The signs were there for Harvey to pull something like this. He operates on an island, mostly keeping to himself and does not have much to do with his fellow teammates. He only cares about Team Matt.
Harvey’s attitude brings to mind the Steve Phillips line about why he did not sign Alex Rodriguez in 2001, “I don’t want a team of 24+1.” The irony is that A-Rod has been a tremendous teammate in his time with the Yankees taking many young players like Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano under his wing.
The debate between Boras and Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson over Harvey’s innings limit came to light on Friday. The issue, in its simplest form, is how hard the 180-inning limit is and if Harvey can pass it.
Alderson indicated on Friday that the Mets would use Harvey in the playoffs, regardless of whether or not he has passed the 180-innings limit.
Boras accused the Mets of hurting Harvey by overworking him this season. The Mets responded by saying they have followed the guidelines on Harvey’s workload, such as the fact that he has not thrown more than 115 pitches in a single game and only gone over 110 pitches once.
Alderson said of Boras on Friday. “For a guy to say to us on the 29th of August ‘180 innings and then you’re going to shut him down…’ Don’t call me seven months later and tell me you’re pulling the rug out from under me, not after all we’ve done to protect the player.”
The Nationals’ shutting down of Steven Strasburg, also a Boras client, in 2012 has reared its ugly head in this debate. The Nationals shut Strasburg down in September despite having the best record in the National League and a great shot at the World Series. They missed the playoffs the next year, made it to the postseason last year and were bounced in the first round by the Giants, and have been a major disappointment this year.
Scott Boras’ job is to get his clients the most money possible when they become free agents, which Harvey will be in a few years. Boras is whispering sweet nothings into Harvey’s ear that, if he sticks to 180 innings this season and continues to pitch well the next couple seasons, he could get the richest contract in the history of the game from a team like the Yankees.
It is something that people understand and have been forced to accept. Understanding something does not make it any easier for lovers of the game to accept, especially Mets fans yearning for playoff baseball.
The relationship between the Mets and Harvey has been contentious going back to last summer. While Harvey was recovering from Tommy John surgery, he made a point of doing many interviews in July of 2014 saying he would pitch at some point that season, even if it was the last day of the season.
At that time, Harvey did not talk to Mets Manager Terry Collins, who once joked about having to make an appointment to talk to his star pitcher. One can only imagine what Collins thinks of this latest development in the Harvey soap opera.
One thing that Terry Collins has valued in his time with the Mets is guys that give their all and fight hard. Harvey embodies the exact opposite of that, as he has to clear with his agent first what exactly he can do for the team he happens to play for.
There is only one thing the Mets can do in the offseason to settle this once and for all: Trade Harvey.