Prior to last week, the current Mets brass had already fostered a questionable reputation with handling personnel, especially from a health perspective. Their prized young core of starters has been bombarded by significant injuries over the past two years. David Wright, Wilmer Flores, Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, Neil Walker, Juan Lagares have all missed significant time with relatively ambiguous ailments.
Honestly, a lot of this can be attributed to bad luck. But when you look at what transpired over the past week, it’s impossible to deny that some level of incompetence exists among Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and Co. Alderson even admitted it was his choice to start injured ace Noah Syndergaard in Sunday's game against the Nationals despite his refusal to have an MRI on his injured shoulder just a couple days earlier.
Let’s take a look back at the Mets' now infamous week that was.
Wednesday: Yoenis Cespedes is recovering from a hamstring injury, after aggravating it on April 20. The slugger had sat out three games and was visibly in pain during batting practice.
Mets management: Hamstring injuries never linger. He’s our most important offensive player. Get him in there Wednesday night! Wait, a 1:10 start on Thursday? Pencil him in!
Cespedes inevitably pulls the hamstring again while running out a double Thursday afternoon and has to be helped off the field. He’ll now miss an extended period on the DL (unless they bring him back too early, which is a significant possibility).
Anyone who’s ever had a hamstring injury, knows someone who’s had one, or casually followed professional sports, knows it’s a muscle that needs at least a couple of weeks to heal properly. Everyone, that is, except Mets management.
Thursday morning: Noah Syndergaard is scratched from his start because a “tired arm”.
Mets management: Matt Harvey’s name is synonymous with adaptability. The kid’s got a rubber arm. Throw him in there!
Harvey wakes up, learns he’s starting, goes out and gets shelled. He loses 4-5 miles per hour on his fastball after the first inning. Yes, the embattled pitcher who was making positive, gradual strides in his recovery from career-threatening Thoracic Outlet Syndrome was forced into an early afternoon start without any chance for his body or mind to prepare — and was consequently dealt a nice blow to his confidence, which is currently as fragile as Cespedes’ hamstring.
Now, after four solid starts to begin the season, don’t be shocked if Harvey hits the skids for a while or runs into health issues. Everyone knew starting him on short notice would have a negative outcome. Everyone, that is, except Mets management.
Thursday through Saturday: Syndergaard “refuses” an MRI despite not being able to lift his “tired arm” over his head.
Mets management: Noah is the foundation of our franchise. We can’t afford to have him miss one start in April. Pitch him on Sunday!
Syndergaard proceeds to have the worst outing of his career before throwing a pitch that leaves him writhing in pain. He’s been diagnosed with a torn lat muscle, after finally getting that MRI, and is out indefinitely. The Mets' season is pretty much over by May 1.
Debate all you want about whether the Mets could have forced Syndergaard to get an MRI. What was entirely under their control was whether to pitch him. In an age when every young pitcher is handled with the gentlest of kid gloves, how do you not rest your 24-year-old ace for a couple of weeks while he’s battling arm issues? It doesn't matter whether the guy tells you he's fine. Everyone saw this disaster coming. Everyone, that is, except Mets management.
It feels almost unprecedented for one team to make three colossal errors in judgment in succession like this. Especially when handling star players.
But if it was going to happen, Mets management would be the ones to pull it off.