by Robby Herman
I know, spring is upon us, the weather is starting to turn, Opening Day is right around the corner. But I just don’t feel the same excitement this year. I’m guessing this might have something to do with the fact that I am a fan of the lowly, incapable-of-doing-anything-
right New York Mets.
Usually around this time, whether the experts predict it or not, I have a feeling that “this is the Mets’ year”, or “the NL East is the Mets’ to lose”. But this year is different. I don’t see any scenario in which the Mets can even challenge the Phillies in the division, let alone make a run for the World Series. Even if Johan wins the Cy Young, which he will, and even if Reyes finally breaks out, which he will, there just aren’t enough weapons for this to be a playoff team. In fact, the best thing going for the Mets might just be the Cascarino’s Pizza sold at the upper level of Citi Field.
I'm not usually one to admit that I've lost an argument. Just ask my dad. After 3 seasons of Jets' running back Thomas Jones rushing for over 1,000 yards, I still insist that he is the worst running back in the NFL, and maybe of all time. But I have been arguing with my arrogant Yankee fan friends for years that the Mets are the superior team in New York. And I finally admit that I am wrong.
Sure, the Yankees have 17 times as much money as any other team in baseball, and can therefore purchase any player they want. And yes, 75% of their players are on steroids (I’m looking at you, Mr. Rodriguez). But overall, they are pretty damn good.
Let’s take a look at Yankees vs. Mets, position-by-position.
Catcher: Jorge Posada vs. God Knows Who…Advantage: Yankees. I’ve never been too fond of Jorge, but he still seems to be a safe bet for 20 homers a year. Plus, it doesn’t take much to beat out the Mets’ catcher(s). They’ve signed about 5 this offseason, and I’ve never heard of any of them. And I follow baseball pretty closely.
First Base: Mark Teixeira vs. sigh..Daniel Murphy…Advantage: Yankees. I hate Teixeira. Everything about him. The way he runs, the way he looks, the way he swings. But his numbers don’t lie. As for Murphy, so much fuss is made about his work ethic and his passion for the game. But who cares? I could have those same attributes too! You just can’t start for a whole year and only manage to drive in 63 runs.
Second Base: Robinson Cano vs. Luis Castillo…Advantage: Tie. Cano’s stats may look better, but when you look up “clutch” in the dictionary, his picture is nowhere to be found. I remember a stretch last year when he went 0-17 with RISP and 2 outs. Impressive. Meanwhile, Luis quietly hit .302 last year, and was one of the Mets’ only consistent bats.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter vs. Jose Reyes…Advantage: Yankees, for now. One is a surefire Hall of Famer, the other will be in 10 years. Mark my words. Reyes hasn’t lived up to the hype yet, but his combination of power, speed, and the strongest arm known to man, will come through this year, and for many years in the future. But until he wins a championship, or three, he’s not in Jeter’s class.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez vs. David Wright…Advantage: Yankees. A-Rod is the best hitter in the game not named Albert Pujols. Wright is not. Enough about him being “Mr. Met”, and “the face of the franchise”. He hit 10 home runs and had 72 RBIS last year. That is flat out embarrassing for a “star” like him.
Outfield: Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher vs. Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and Jeff Francoeur…Advantage: Mets. Wow. Advantage: Mets. That felt good to type. Now that I think about it, the Yankees outfield sucks. For a team paying its players more than 200 million dollars a year, that’s a pretty pedestrian bunch. I know, Beltran’s out for the beginning of the season after his mysterious surgery, but the Mets still have the edge with the big bats of Bay and Francoeur.
Starting Pitching: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, and Phil Hughes vs. Johan Santana, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, and Jonathan Niese…Advantage: Yankees. One thing I will never admit is that CC is better than Johan. In fact, no one is better than Johan. No one has ever been better than Johan, and no one will ever be better than Johan. But other than that, the Mets have had the same staff for what feels like a decade, and it’s never been good before. What’s gonna change now?
Closer: Mariano Rivera vs. Francisco Rodriguez…Advantage: Yankees. Only the Mets could take a 62 save guy and make him bad. K-Rod had 35 saves, but a 3.71 ERA is pretty ugly and he never seemed to close the big games. Not that there were many big games last year. Meanwhile, Rivera’s the best to ever play the position.
The Yanks are loaded at almost every position; the Mets are not. Even someone as stubborn as myself can’t honestly think the Mets are a better baseball team. Just don’t let my Yankee fan friends know I’m saying this. That would be the first argument I’ve ever “lost”.