There is no sugarcoating this: It's nothing short of a disaster for the Mets, who have built up a nice young stable of pitching led by Harvey himself. But once the dust settles and general manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets have some time to think about where they go from here, they'll realize that not all hope is lost and their championship timetable hasn't changed.
2015 or bust
Realistically, the Mets were not going to contend in 2014 anyway. They are still a couple of bats short, and the likes of Travis d'Arnaud and Wilmer Flores need some time to develop before they can be counted as impact players.
For this reason, the Mets need to sit down with Matt Harvey and agent Scott Boras and explain why Harvey should go ahead and have TJ surgery. Trying to rehabilitate partial tears rarely works, and it's in the best interest of the franchise and the player if he goes under the knife and comes back at full strength in 2015.
If Harvey tries to pitch through this there are a lot of risks for him and the team. Since we know there is already a partial tear, it would seem like only a matter of time before it gets worse. So let's say Harvey tries to rehab and pitches next year. If he fully blows out the elbow in the middle of 2014, then he puts 2015 in jeopardy, and that's really the season the Mets should have been targeting all along. And what if he makes it through 2014 but blows out the elbow in 2015? That's an even bigger disaster. Fact is, a team is better off when pitchers suffer serious injuries during rebuilding years.
While I don't blame the Mets for this injury, it was odd to hear manager Terry Collins say in the news conference that he wasn't aware of this until yesterday while Harvey said he's had some soreness from weeks -- soreness that Alderson knew about. That sounds like a serious communication breakdown and does not reflect well on the club.
As for Harvey, having surgery now is a smart financial move since he hasn't hit arbitration yet. If he has to miss a full season during arbitration, it could cost him millions. He doesn't hit arbitration until 2016, so if he comes back healthy in 2015 and pitches well, it won't affect his earning power in the long run.
If you are looking for one silver lining in all of this, it's this: Had the Mets finished strong in September, they might have been tempted to make a rash free-agent signing this winter. Assuming Harvey has TJ, it will remove any temptation the Mets might have had to go for broke in 2014. And that's good, because this year's free-agent class -- led by Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo -- is somewhat lackluster.
Harvey's injury will allow the Mets to take a step back and let some of their youngsters develop, and they can really get a feel for the likes of d'Arnaud, Flores, Ike Davis and Juan Lagares, to see if those are the kind of young position players they can build around.
This is obviously a tough blow for the Mets' franchise. But when you consider the high success rate of Tommy John surgery and the Mets' long-term outlook, this isn't a major setback in terms of World Series potential. If Harvey does the smart thing and has surgery, it will certainly take a toll on the Mets' win total in 2014, but it won't seriously hinder their hopes for contending in 2015, which was the most realistic scenario all along.