(Long Island, NY) We haven’t even reached Memorial Day and both New York baseball teams are at a crossroads in the season. A recent rash of injuries suffered on both clubs has put their fans into panic mode. Stand pat and ride it out or play ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and mortgage some of the future for the present?
The Mets are in more of a dire situation than the Yankees because their problems arise from their starting rotation. And we all know that pitching wins. A short staff to begin the season just got shorter with the injuries to starters Brian Bannister, John Maine, and Victor Zambrano. Replacement arms such as Jose Lima has not worked out. Jeremi Gonzalez kept the Mets in the game in his first start at Milwaukee, which has been the highlight of his stay so far. They are playing with fire if they attempt to maintain the division lead with no help for the top two starters. Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine have pitched brilliantly so far, but age and injury may catch up to them.
Steve Traschel is what he has been throughout his career- a .500 pitcher who will eat up a lot of innings. Bannister should return from his injured hamstring shortly, but he is still a rookie and cannot be depended on to keep his consistency through the dog days.
Should General Manager Omar Minaya go out and make a deal for a starting pitcher? Obviously, the team needs to make a change. Is it worth mortgaging the future for someone at this time? Depending on the return, yes.
If he can obtain an arm such as the Florida Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis, top prospect Lastings Milledge may get it done. The young outfielder is in Triple-A after having a good spring. Willis is having an off year, but is only 24 years old and coming off a 22 win season.
Barry Zito of the Oakland Athletics is a big time arm who has not been the same since Rick Peterson left the position of A’s pitching coach in 2004 take the same job with the Mets. Could a reunion make everyone happy? Possibly, but the cost to get Zito and the fact that his contract is up at the end of the season make it very risky.
Over in the Bronx, losing outfielders Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui has hurt, but should not cause long term problems. Can they get by with back-ups such as Terrence Long and Melky Cabrera? They should be able to weather the storm with Sheff returning. But Matsui is likely done for the year. A rumor has the Yanks thinking about acquiring a big bat such as Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies. His swing from the left side of the plate and the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium make it an interesting possibility. But does the Yankee clubhouse need another player with a similar attitude like Sheffield and Randy Johnson?
Now that the first installment of the ‘Subway Series’ in completed, it will be interesting to see if either team pulls the trigger on a deal before they meet again at the end of June. The Mets may have taken solace in the fact that they won two of three from the Yankees. But things do not get any easier with the Phillies coming into town. (The Mets captured game one of the three game set with a thrilling 9-8 comeback win in 16 innings over Philadelphia). The Yankees left Shea for Fenway Park and have split the first two contests against the Boston Red Sox.