Mets and Yankees In Race...Towards the Bottom

Pitching woes are plaguing both New York home teams. While the brass of the Mets and Yankees are insisting their teams will be competitive, our resident sports columnist thinks both are heading in the wrong direction and disappointing seasons lie ahead for both.

| 20 Mar 2024 | 04:13

Diehard New York baseball fans are looking forward to seeing their beloved teams compete in pennant races in 2024.

Unfortunately, with both the Mets and Yankees entering the new season featuring questionable pitching, I’m afraid that I don’t see either team making much noise this season.

Pick Your Poison

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who won the American League Cy Young award last season, has already suffered an inflamed elbow and will be sidelined for up to two months as he rests and hopefully recovers. Nestor Cortes will get the opening day nod on March 28 in Houston.

The Mets ace, Kodai Senga is also on the shelf for the start of the season with a right posterior capsule strain, that will keep him sidelined for at least a week, maybe two. Meanwhile, Mets slugger Pete Alonso, the face of the franchise and its one indispensable player, is worrying fans for a different reason. Alonso, who has hit 192 home runs in his first five Mets seasons, is entering the season without a contract extension. If Alonso and the team cannot reach an agreement, he can leave the Mets for another squad at the end of the season and the Mets will not get another player in return. Will Alonso stay in blue and orange? And can he remain focused this year with so much on the line? Mets owner Steve Cohen has already said he expects to not reach a deal in-season.

The Yankees have no such hitting worries. With Aaron Judge and new superstar Juan Soto hitting back-to-back, and joined by Gleyber Torres, Anthony Rizzo, D.J. LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton (when healthy), the Yankees will field a fearsome lineup. Soto may just be the best all-round hitter in the game. The Yankees will play a lot of 9-8 games, which is exciting, but not a good omen for a big-league team.

Still, even with all of the Yankees’ power, the team’s player to watch will be second-year shortstop Anthony Volpe, who showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season.

Pitching means almost everything in Major League Baseball. Both New York teams come up short. Besides Cole, the Yankees cannot boast a reliable starting pitcher.

Miscalculating Mets

The Mets failed miserably a few years ago when they bet the house on aging, injury riddled aging pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The Mets made a bet that the two Hall of Fame-bound pitchers, both nearing 40 years of age, could lead the team to the promised and of the World Series. Now, the Mets have no such prestigious pitchers on the roster.

Met closer Edwin Diaz, who was one of the best relief pitchers in the sport in 2022, will be the key to the Mets’ fortunes. He missed all of 2023 with a knee injury. Now, the Mets have to hope he can regain his stellar form.

If Diaz is only a shell of his commanding self, the Mets will have no chance to make the playoffs.

Then, there is the matter of the two managers, veteran Aaron Boone of the Yankees and Carlos Mendoza, entering his first year as Mets skipper.

Fans may hotly debate which manager offers fewer reasons for the teams’ followers to be optimistic.

Mendoza is stepping into the cauldron of New York sports, arguably the toughest town to be a skipper in. If the Mets don’t win their first, say, 34 games this season, the Mets faithful will be apoplectic on WFAN, the local all-sports radio station.

For his part, Boone has been the Yankees’ manager since 2018–and has the dubious distinction of being the franchise’s longest tenured manager who has not led the Bronx Bombers to a World Series berth.

Wasted Money

What’s especially galling is that the Mets and the Yankees have two of the sport’s highest payrolls, led by owners who have well-earned reputations for spending the big bucks in the hope of winning a World Series.

Nowadays, fans often measure players more by their salaries than any other factor. When players receive top dollar but don’t lead teams to a championship, fans become restless and, sometimes, hostile.

Now some predictions that may make you want to gnash your teeth:

*The Yankees will win 92 games. The Mets will win 84 games. Neither team will qualify for the post-season.

*The free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers will once again fail to win it all.

*The Baltimore Orioles will beat the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

*Cole will come back to the Yankees this season.

*Alonso will not return to the Mets in 2025.