The Mets have a long, sordid history of trusting their pitchers to tell someone when they feel a little “off.” Asking the question, who’s the boss?
The Mets, just like any business, have a hierarchy of individuals with authority and decision-making powers. You would never know it though. Who’s the boss? I’m the boss. Zack Wheeler thinks he’s the boss. Noah Syndergaard once paid the price for thinking he was the boss too. Yoenis Cespedes is his boss also as his rehab creeps along. Just what the hell is going on here?
As Zack Wheeler’s trade value continues to plummet faster than companies owned by Jeffery Epstein, the Mets are left only to swat away the dust while wondering how Wheeler’s injury could happen. He looked perfectly fine in two of his final three starts. Sure he did. But Zack Wheeler knew something the Mets had no clue on.
See, Wheeler revealed something only he knew, telling Mike Puma, writing for the New York Post, that he “experienced discomfort during his start against the Yankees on July 2 and it persisted through his ensuing outing, on the Sunday before the All-Star break”.
With no prompting, Wheeler seemed to take some pride when he also volunteered that, “I’ve had impingements before, so I kind of knew what it was and this was a little more than other ones, but it doesn’t really scare me.” I understand. It didn’t REALLY scare him as opposed to just scaring him. No problem.
Finally, sometime after that final start against the Phillies on Sunday before the All-Star break (ask someone on the Mets why he just had to pitch that game), Wheeler told the Mets his arm was “feeling a little cranky.”
The Mets Are Being Impinged By Wheeler’s Impingement
I will acknowledge that pitchers are a breed unto themselves. When the competitive spark kicks in, you can’t drag the best of them off a mound. Over time, many learn how to pitch (effectively) through minor pain and ailments.
Zack Wheeler is not that pitcher, at least not yet. He may think he has reached the level of a Masahiro Tanaka, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, and a handful of others. But he is sadly mistaken.
You can almost say that Wheeler’s actions in not speaking up are downright stupid. (I didn’t say he was crazy, I said his actions are.) Here’s a player on the cusp of landing a contract that will set him up for life when he signs with a team as a free agent over the winter. Wheeler knows he has a history of injuries that thwarted the development of his career.
Wheeler is 29 and reaching ever closer to that mark of 32-35 where clubs think three times before venturing into a multi-year deal (recall the controversy about Jacob deGrom). He has a zero chance of the Mets extending an $18 million qualifying offer to him… What was he thinking?
The Mets Own Some Of This Too
You’ll recall the early days of Brodie Van Wagenen’s tenure as GM of the Mets. Those times when he never missed a chance to emphasize that he works for the players, the players don’t work for him. How touchy-feely that sounds. It’s just that no successful business operates that way.
In Van Wagenen’s previous role as a player’s agent, he could afford to be palsy-walsy with his players. In fact, it was a prerequisite in that job. Now, whether he likes it or not, he’s the boss.
That authority extends to telling Mickey Callaway and his coaches they’d be personally accountable any time one of their players hold something back that could be detrimental to their play on the field.
An impending divorce, a terminally-ill parent, trouble in finding a place to live, and most of all, physical conditions that need consultation and immediate medical intervention.
No one can say now if earlier medical attention to Wheeler’s “cranky arm” would have avoided a stint on the IL. What isn’t conjecture though are the checks issued and payable to Zack Wheeler by the New York Mets. The line between employer and employee is evident there.
Wait, It Gets Better…Mickey Callaway
“I don’t think during the game we noticed anything,” Callaway said. “Obviously we weren’t totally aware of what he was dealing with, which is good. I think that players play through a lot and he played through it the best he could. Now we’ll take care of it”.
It’s good? Now, we’ll take care of it? Now, when the Mets have a modest four-game win streak and are showing signs of waking up, even their bullpen?
Now, when Van Wagenen is forced to limp to the phone to answer calls coming in on Wheeler? It’s all “good”?
Mets fans should be outraged by the behavior, and to be kind we’ll say misjudgment of Wheeler. But they should also be infuriated by the Mets bosses who don’t act like bosses…