WASHINGTON -- Sandy Alderson's mandate to stay the course, to not meddle with his "vision" for the Mets' future, is part of the reason why the front office decided yesterday to have Miguel Batista -- and not Matt Harvey -- start Saturday's game against the Dodgers at Citi Field.
Mets officials talked at length after Harvey's start Monday in Buffalo, which apparently failed to convince the powers that be to promote him, and the debate continued into yesterday morning and later in the afternoon in manager Terry Collins' office at Nationals Park. Alderson and assistant general manager John Ricco were on site, along with Collins, pitching coach Dan Warthen and bullpen coach Ricky Bones.
"I've said on more than one occasion that his development and future are independent of our needs in 2012," Alderson said. "I think it's more likely than not that he will pitch in New York some this season. It just won't be Saturday at Citi Field. It could be shortly after that. We want to make sure when he starts his major-league career, it's an auspicious start.
"One could conclude that he's done everything he needs to do at Triple-A and that the best thing is to continue his development right here in the major leagues. My guess is that's something that we will do sometime this season, that if he's in our plans for next year, he ought to be pitching here sometime this season. That just makes sense. But we didn't feel the time, this time, was right."
Harvey, 23, is 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 19 starts for Buffalo, but Monday's audition was not among his top performances, although he allowed only three hits and two runs in 62/3 innings. The troubling part was the four walks, and Harvey needed 101 pitches to get through the night.
The Mets were concerned that his location issues might be a problem against the Dodgers, who have Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier back, so going to Plan B (Batista) felt like the safe play. Alderson insisted that Batista gives the Mets the best chance to win on Saturday, but also provided other factors. No one in the Mets' hierarchy wants Harvey to flop, thus forcing a quick return to Buffalo, and it doesn't appear they'll be taking any leaps of faith with Zack Wheeler, either.
Many scouts contend that Wheeler, at 22, is the more advanced pitcher of the two and is better equipped to get major-league hitters out. But Alderson emphasized that Wheeler is still at Double-A Binghamton and the GM wants him to excel at the next level first.
"I don't think there's any scenario in which Zack Wheeler would pitch in New York this season,'' Alderson said. "He's done extraordinarily well in Double-A. He needs to move to Triple-A."
Alderson doesn't expect to acquire help for the rotation from outside the organization. Again, that is all about in keeping with the "vision" Alderson speaks of in rebuilding the Mets. He described them as "buyers" with the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaching -- even redeploying his scouts to major-league teams this week -- but the GM's "No. 1 priority" is relief pitching, which is one of the cheaper items to shop for.
"I think realistically the possibility of acquiring a starting pitcher is not good," Alderson said. "I think that they're going to be in high demand.
"We don't want to do anything to disrupt 2013 and 2014. If we think somebody can help us in 2013 and 2014, we're going to be very reluctant to make a move with that player."