With eight dominant innings and two words to his manager, Matt Harvey won back New York Sunday night.
When manager Terry Collins told him his night was done after eight and leading 2-0, Harvey stormed across the dugout. America could make out his response to being pulled: “No way.”
Collins would go on to lament he let his heart trump his head by letting Harvey take the mound again. He’s wrong. It was the right call. Leaving Harvey in after he walked the first batter in the fateful ninth, that was his fatal error.
You know the rest: The Royals won in 12, 7-2, to take the World Series, 4-1.
But Harvey, in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, erased doubt about his heart raised in the aftermath of an innings-cap imbroglio that surfaced in the middle of the pennant race. The timing of the cap flap left a bitter taste with a lot of fans and the team. Missing a mandatory workout on the eve of the postseason also made many question his head.
Sunday night, even in a no-decision that ended in the most gut-wrenching of season-ending losses, washed away much of that.
The Dark Knight rose.
And now it’s time for him to depart.
The Mets need to deal their most tradeable commodity. Now, as in this offseason.
New York is built to return to the postseason, in large part due to their incredible stable of young arms. But it is still a team with holes, and there will be more.
Daniel Murphy, the postseason hero turned goat, will be gone via free agency, an assumption-turned-question mark-turned-certainty after his Gehrig-like National League playoffs morphed into a horror show by Halloween. If you want a parallel, look at Roger Peckinpaugh, the 1925 American League MVP known for his glove who booted away the World Series that year for the Washington Senators with his eight errors.
Then there’s Yoenis Cespedes, the late-July acquisition who hammered the Mets to a division title. Cespedes disappeared at the plate, bumbled in the outfield and on the basepaths, and in the end took himself out of a closeout World Series game after painfully fouling a ball off his knee. As he tore up National League pitching, you wondered how he could be on his fourth team in three seasons. As you saw more, the answer became clear. Because of his price tag alone, expect to see him on Team No. 5 in 2016.
There’s an in-house replacement for Murphy in prospect Dilson Herrera and a combination of Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores. As for Cespedes, the Mets certainly need to replace his big bat. And this is where Harvey comes in.
Trade Harvey to the Colorado Rockies for Carlos Gonzalez and other considerations. The 30-year-old left-handed outfielder is a 40-plus homer guy (even outside of Coors Field) and under contract for two more seasons ($37 million total). He played right field last season, but the three-time Gold Glove winner has and can play center.
The Mets went from the worst-hitting team in baseball to the best in the span of a few months late in the season, but that was in large part to a couple of players getting ridiculously hot at the right time. Streakiness does not equate to long-term success.
Putting CarGo in a lineup with Curtis Granderson, a healthy David Wright, a star-in-waiting in Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud would make the Mets formidable at the plate. Remember, this is a team that was batting the likes of John Mayberry Jr. at cleanup in June.
But it will cost. (They also have to clean up some bullpen issues.) But, luckily, they have the best trading chip in baseball.
Harvey, under Mets’ control for three more seasons, has the makings of a generational star. But he is also a Scott Boras client. Which means stuff will happen. Weird stuff. Acrimonious stuff.
Besides, for all his greatness, he is expendable.
Look at the rotation behind him — and that is assuming Harvey is the No. 1 starter: Jacob deGrom, the Mets’ All-Star representative. Two fellow flame throwers in rookies Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. The gone-but-not-forgotten Zack Wheeler, expected back from Tommy John surgery in 2016. Jonathon Niese can be back another year. Logan Verrett looms in the minors.
Heck, they could always bring Bartolo Colon back. That round dude is game for anything.
Harvey will likely be back in Queens next year. A lot of the bad feelings have been smoothed over, thanks to a gutty performance in a bad loss. There are worse things than seeing him dominate at Citi Field for the next three years, even if he then departs for The Bronx and his favoritie boyhood team, the Yankees.
But the best thing he could do for the Mets going forward is beyond his control: Leave.
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