Is it foolish to say that baseball is now front page news in New York? Well, given the state of the rest of the town’s teams (Giants, Jets, Knicks all pitiful) one could argue that the baseball offseason has given New Yorkers hope and something to talk positively about in these cold, snowy winter months.
Both the Yankees and Mets have been busy so far. Big names have been inked to free agent deals and are coming to the Big Apple in April. The Yankees stole Jacoby Ellsbury away from the hated Red Sox. Curtis Granderson switched sides of town to play for the Mets.
It could be that just because they are doing something, these teams have created a buzz around town and just gives everyone an excuse to talk about something other than a five INT game from Eli Manning again or another Knicks loss to a terrible team.
The preseason is the best time to be a fan in every sport because every team is a contender. It’s a new year, things are looking up, and new faces are in that exude optimism.
But listen up New Yorkers-baseball season won’t bring about anything different than what you are going through now.
Let’s start with the Mets. They might be easier to deal with due to the fact that, let’s face it, they haven’t been good and really are never expected to be. Take a team that finished last season 14 games under .500 last year, dealt with all sorts of injuries and disappointments, and just never really gave you a reason to watch when Matt Harvey or Zach Wheeler wasn’t pitching.
2014 will bring a full season of no Matt Harvey, so that leaves just Zach Wheeler. Oh yeah, and Bartolo Colon.
Not the Bartolo Colon of 1998, the electric 25 year old All-Star who blew people away in Cleveland, not even the Colon of 2005 who won the Cy Young in Anaheim. No, the Mets signed a 40 year old pitcher coming off two steroid uses in the last two seasons in Oakland and looks like he is one hot dog away from not making it out of the dugout to the mound without passing out.
Granted, Colon did pitch well in Oakland and somehow could throw in the mid-90s again (we all know how that was possible). But to be given a two year deal worth $2OM is absurd, especially from a team that won’t be competitive (just take a look at the Mets website it will give you a laugh http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=nym). The Mets will have a decent front three with Jon Niese as well, but after that it drops off a cliff.
Curtis Granderson made a nice splash with news of his 4 year, $60M signing. Cut his production in half if you want to be realistic, Citi Field is much, much more difficult to hit homeruns in than Yankee Stadium. Granderson will waste the remaining years of his prime in a lineup that other than he and David Wright, just isn’t good.
Another dreadful year in store for the Mets.
Now to turn to the Bronx Bombers. 2013 can’t happen again, right? Everyone was hurt last year, that’s what kept them out of the playoffs.
Well, you just let your best player walk and went back to the old Yankee way of signing every free agent on the market. The problem now is, free agents are already at the end of their prime years when they hit the market, and really have not much more to offer. Brian McCann has been in a steady decline. Ellsbury will turn 30 this coming season, and Carlos Beltran will be 38. I know Beltran had an outstanding postseason last year, and he can absolutely still hit.
The point with Beltran is that his defense is starting to really trend downward. His play in RF was not all that great last year, and you could see with your eyes that he looked slow out there. Lord knows you can’t put Alfonso Soriano out there.
So you sign all these players to big deals, to add to your roster full of huge contracts of guys who are old. Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod, Brian Roberts (give him until May before he is out for 6 weeks), Beltran, Soriano. Sure they were all hurt last year but that’s what happens with old players, they miss time. 162 games seems a hell of a lot more than it did when you were 25.
Where do you even begin with the pitching staff. CC was not good last year and who knows if he can make adjustments so he can stay successful. Kuroda is brought back and while he was stellar for most of the year, faltered mightily in August and September. Mariano Rivera is gone.
I will say it again. Rivera is gone. New Yorkers have will appreciate Mo tenfold now that he has stepped away and the impact will be felt on this team going forward. The greatest closer of all time saved a whole of wins over the last two decades, just be ready to not lock up as many wins with him gone.
I’m saying that the New York sports world is crumbling right now. I see no real end to that coming in the 2014 baseball season. You can look for a repeat of 2013 all over again.