For the Mets, 2015 can't come fast enough. And that was pretty much the vibe Monday at Citi Field, where Matt Harvey offered the promise of better times with a simulated three innings -- minus live hitters -- from the stadium mound.
But Harvey isn't the only one who will be back for next season. You also can count on the returns of Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, who revealed that they plan to start discussing the blueprint for 2015 during this weekend's visit to Atlanta.
Does that sound like a general manager and manager who will be looking for work this winter?
"I'd like to be back, but I try not to anticipate anything," Alderson said. "Too many variables in the game."
Even so, Alderson will be the GM for as long as he wants to be, and with an option year already in place for next season, it's a safe bet an extension is forthcoming. Alderson gives the Wilpons some stability in the front office and a cost-conscious path to repairing the franchise.
Collins was the one with more to prove, and Alderson didn't do him any favors with that 90-win proclamation back in spring training. But after a 12-17 August, Collins appears to have earned himself the chance to stick around for the final year of his current contract -- or at least the start of the 2015 season.
While Alderson dodged a direct question about Collins' return, he did say there will be an announcement in the coming weeks. "I think Terry's done a fine job this season," Alderson said. "We've improved in a lot of areas. We've seen growth in our young players. I think we're positioned well for 2015."
Harvey remains a huge part of that, and losing him to Tommy John surgery gave the Mets a built-in excuse for everything that went wrong this season. Despite the public clashes with Harvey that began in spring training, it seemed as though both sides were on the same page during Monday's outing, and the Mets now will be happy to pack him away until February in Port St. Lucie.
Harvey threw a variety of pitches except for his slider; Alderson wanted to avoid putting too much torque on the elbow. The GM said his fastball reached 95 mph a few times and that Harvey probably was throwing at no more than 80 percent effort, which was enough for the Mets. They've fought with Harvey to keep him from pitching in an actual game, and now he'll be shut down until spring training.
"He's considered on track and ready to go," Alderson said. "Everything we were trying to accomplish this season has been accomplished, from our standpoint."
The Mets believe Harvey not only is where he needs to be physically but will be mentally ready because, as Alderson said, "any uncertainty has been eliminated." We'll assume Harvey is on board with those plans; the Mets chose not to make him available to the media.
Maybe this PR tug-of-war with Harvey isn't over yet. Maybe it will continue for as long as he wears a Mets uniform. Or maybe all will be forgotten as soon as he steps on a mound for real. What we've learned is that winning tends to override the off-the-field drama.
But another Cy Young chase for Harvey isn't going to cure what's ailing this franchise. It was a ghost town Monday night when the team honored its top minor-league players. Long Island's Steven Matz, the Mets' organizational pitcher of the year, had bigger crowds watching him at Double-A Binghamton.
Matz won't care who's in the seats, however, if he gets the call to the majors at some point next season, which Alderson said is a possibility. For everyone, 2014 can't be over quickly enough. The Mets already are turning the page.
"I don't think the last 12 games have a lot to do with evaluating with Terry," Alderson said. "I think we've played well enough to this point."
Next year has to be much, much better. Harvey will help. We'll see about the others.
"You can't look back and worry about what happened in the past," Collins said. "You've got to look ahead."