COMMENTARY | Matt Harvey has decided to forgo his rehab and get Tommy John surgery to repair his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.
It hurts knowing Harvey definitely won't be around for the 2014 season. However, it allows Sandy Alderson and the front office to make a solid plan to fill the void this winter.
Looking at the starting pitching free-agent market, Phil Hughes should be on the list of hurlers Alderson pursues for 2014.
Here are five reasons why the right-hander should move across town:
We've heard of Phil Hughes for quite some time, given his seven-year big league career. However, he's still young; he won't be celebrating his 28th birthday until next June. Hughes has dealt with some injuries throughout the early part of his career, but he has started at least 29 games in three of the last four seasons.
If Alderson spends money in free agency on a pitcher, there should be more assurance the hurler can take the ball every fifth day. I was a fan of the Shaun Marcum signing last winter, but there was concern over injury issues over the years. Outside his 1-10 record in 2013, he missed over half the season with various injuries.
Familiarity with New York
A lot of baseball players have played in New York, but only a fraction of them can handle the pressure in the correct way to succeed on the field. Mets fans have been clamoring for a winning team since they fell short of a wild -card spot in 2008. There is a lot of pressure in Flushing to start pushing toward a winning record.
Hughes has spent his entire career with the New York Yankees, where the expectation is to win a championship every year. If he's signed by Alderson to plug a hole in the Mets' starting rotation, he won't have to adjust to life in the Big Apple. He's already been dealing with it across town. It won't be much of a different experience, except being in a different clubhouse.
Since Sandy Alderson took over the Mets as general manager prior to the 2011 season, the expectation has been that 2014 would be the official start of the new era. That is when fans would finally start seeing a team (with financial flexibility) compete for the playoffs every year.
As of right now, one of the only players on the team with playoff experience is David Wright. The Mets are a young team and could use a starting pitcher with some playoff experience to help lead a young staff. Phil Hughes has made it to the postseason with the Yankees in five of his seven years in the big leagues. He was also an important piece of the bullpen on their way to winning the 2009 World Series.
He's coming off a down year
Hughes figured he would be in search of a lucrative, multi-year contract when he entered free agency for the first time. After making $7.5 million in his last year of arbitration, he had a rough 2013 season. He put together a 4-14 record with a 5.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 121 strikeouts in 145.2 innings pitched.
He'll likely be in the market this winter for a one- or two-year contract in order to improve his value for that lucrative deal the next time he hits free agency. That time frame could be just enough for New York's minor-league pitching prospects to get ready for the majors.
He's a flyball pitcher
Being a flyball pitcher with a home park like Yankee Stadium is dangerous. In 2013, Hughes induced ground balls 30.8% of the time, compared to a 46.2% flyball rate. The homer-friendly confines of the ballpark in the Bronx played a part in him surrendering 24 home runs last season (11.1% of the fly balls he allowed).
Moving to a more pitcher-friendly park like Citi Field would allow him to not change his style on the mound, while letting his outfielders run down the flyballs he creates.
It's not very often the Mets could sign a former Yankee in the early stages of his career. This is one time it should seriously be considered.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as the Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.
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