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No, sending Matt Harvey to the minors for an extended period is not a great idea

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Let us stipulate that Matt Harvey appears to have made some bad choices.

Let us further stipulate that, however badly the P.R. of it has been handled, the Mets are justified in being angry with him and punishing him to the extent they’re allowed to under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Let us further stipulate that, yes, one of those options could be to send him to the minors for a time to give him a wakeup call or whatever. In stipulating this, let us forget for a moment that the Mets’ Triple-A team is in Las Vegas and that sending a guy to Las Vegas as punishment for missing games because he’s out too late partying may not be the wisest thing ever. Just let that one go.

With all of that said, can we agree that this column from Buster Olney, talking about possibly sending Harvey to the minors is . . . messed up?

Making such a dramatic move could accelerate the team and the player toward a divorce that seems inevitable at this point, but on the other hand, the Mets might feel it’s their best chance at producing the change in Harvey they want, and need. It would be a dramatic wake-up call that would certainly get his attention because it would have the potential of altering the timeline by which he would become a free agent.

As it stands, Harvey is on track to accumulate the requisite time in the big leagues to hit the open market in fall 2018, but if the Mets hold him in the minors, they could back that up by a year, at least. If the Mets sent him to Triple- or Double-A for the rest of 2017, he might not reach free agency until he’s 30, rather than 29 — and that could make a difference in the perception around his potential . . . The Mets could fully justify a minor league assignment by saying Harvey needs more time to come back from his injury, with the corollary message to the pitcher: Get back to doing what’s needed to be in the best possible position to pitch — which includes showing up to the ballpark.

On first read this sounds like “hey, here’s a way the Mets could save millions of dollars via manipulating a guy’s service time with the excuse that it’s performance and/or behavior related.” At the very least it sounds like a disproportionate response to an act that, while certainly not good, was by no means mortal sin. I can’t recall anyone arguing that the Mets’ complement of domestic violence offenders should be sent down like this, let alone that doing so might present a lucrative opportunity for the team.

More significantly, I’m struck by how much the player here is being seen as a child or a toy or something and how thoroughly this matter is being viewed through the lens of the Mets’ best interests. I don’t know what Matt Harvey’s deal is, but there are suggestions that this is not an isolated incident. Is it not possible that he has issues with alcohol? Would it not be possible that one of the tools in the box to deal with that is, you know, to get the guy help or treatment or to otherwise try to get him into a place where he’s making better decisions and taking better care of himself rather than see how shrewdly the Mets can play this?

I’m not suggesting that Matt Harvey is a good guy or not at fault here. I’m not suggesting that the Mets have tons of good options to deal with the situation he’s put them in. Heck, I’m not even suggesting that a brief stint in the minors, treated as a splash of cold water to the face, would necessarily be a bad thing.

I just don’t know how one’s first reaction to all of this goes to matters of service time, free agency and how the club can best exploit a player’s contractual vulnerabilities as opposed to the health and well being of a guy who obviously has some stuff he needs to deal with and address.

 

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”