This season has been a trying one thus far for Gotham’s baseball faithful. With the Mets and Yankees both floundering around the .500 mark the idea of a postseason sans New York has become a very real possibility. And the events of this past week, for the teams on both sides of town, have certainly left a sour taste in the mouths of those taking a bite out of Big Apple baseball.
The Mets Freed Willie
In the culmination of what started with last season’s epic late September collapse, the Mets have finally fired manager Willie Randolph. But was Willie really the problem? With any managerial firing this is a legitimate and often asked question, but the way the Mets handled this suggest their problems may go much deeper than the man running things from the bench.
In theory these Mets were supposed to win somewhere between 90-95 games. At least that’s what the experts said when you see them on paper. But what paper is this exactly? And do you have to be throwing back shots of Wild Turkey while munching shrooms to see these 90 wins? Sure they acquired Johan Santana, and yes David Wright is one of the best young players in the game, but take a good hard look at what Willie was working with overall. It may very well be true that Randolph could’ve done better with what he had, but how much? And why is Omar Minaya not on the unemployment line with Mr. Randolph?
Jose Reyes and Oliver Perez are two young guys that at times show a world of promise. However, at times they also prove to have the combined mental capacity and focus of a retarded puppy. After that, don’t the Amazins’ look curiously like a mix of players either too old or too mediocre to all be wearing the same uniform? Pedro Martinez has made about as many total starts in a Mets uniform as I have. Moises Alou was for some reason re-upped to hold down the fort in left field at the spry young age of 96. Carlos Delgado’s looks and versatility could literally help him pull off the role of the youngest guy on an Old Timer’s Day roster. And their bullpen squad of Heilman, Sosa, Mota and Wagner have been about as effective as Milton Bradley’s life coach. Is this a playoff team or a crew that has been sent out to pasture to let their careers/lives slowly wind down?
When it comes down to it, it is agreeable that Willie was the wrong fit for this team. But it is hard to say whether any manager will fare much better here. And a mid-season change rarely seems to help in baseball. It always feels more like giving up than making the necessary changes. So good luck to you Jerry Manuel, especially with a front office that has shown that when the chips are down they will happily toss their manager under, in front of, or through the bus.
The Yankees have a Limp Wang
The Yankees have hit their mid-season stride! The Yankees offense is taking off! The Yankees are 5 games above .500 and gaining speed! The Yankees lost another pitcher… and this time it’s their ace.
In a Sunday rout of the Astros that had fans wondering if the Yankees were finally headed in the right direction, they suffered what may be their worst set back of the year losing ace Chien-Ming Wang until at least September. Wang partially tore a tendon and sprained his right foot while running the bases in the Inter-league match up. This, of course, prompted a completely idiotic rant from the always ridiculous Hank Steinbrenner that blamed the National League for not having a modern enough way of playing the game and asked them to “join the 21st century.” But more importantly, it has prompted a bit of panic in Yankee land.
The Yanks headed into this season with one of the youngest and most inexperienced pitching rotations in all of Major League baseball, and they have seen the results many feared they would. Now we have to wonder who exactly will be replacing the reliable Mr. Wang? Thanks to a combination of injuries and overall ineffectiveness Joba Chamberlain and Darrell Rasner have already been moved into the rotation. Andy Pettite has had his ups and downs, and what happens if the unexpected consistency of Mike Mussina doesn’t last? Can the Yankees afford to hope for a gem amongst their young minor leaguers? Or must they think about making a trade?
Their severely thinned out pitching led to immediate rumors of possible trades, one being a swap of Robinson Cano to the Dodgers for Brad Penny. Cano has been widely considered one of the best young bats in the game, although he continues to start each year about as effective at the dish as Helen Keller. But does his streakiness really warrant offering him up for a pitcher with a 5.88 ERA and a 5-9 record who is currently on the DL? That looks eerily like one of those panic moves that could haunt a franchise for years to come.
But on the flip side, can the Yankee offense really weather the storm of losing their most dependable pitcher? Sure their bats have been on fire lately, but are they hitting their stride or just hitting a hot streak that will eventually sputter out? Even an offense anchored by Alex Rodriguez and a suddenly productive Jason Giambi (with due credit going to his Super Troopers moustache and his magical thong) can’t put up enough runs to win with no one on the mound (or with Ian Kennedy on the mound, for that matter).
So which of the choices will the Yankees front office make? Do they have the stones to gamble on a risky trade, or do they have the faith to believe they have enough to pull through? Either way, for Yankees fans it might just be time to just clasp your hands and pray.