Mets, Yankees: Panic and Underperformance in New York

Andrew StevensCorrespondent IMay 6, 2008

It's a month into the season and you would think the plague, or some similarly catastrophic event, had hit in Queens and the Bronx. Both baseball teams have underperformed, and both have demanding ownerships and rabid fan bases.

For Yankees and Mets fans it's been a struggle all April. But all is not lost. Things are bleak now, but they can be turned. But first, let's take a look at the reasons for panic.

The Yankees team has been bitten by the injury bug. Spring training was run by new manager Joe Girardi like a football camp, and much was made about the running and exercising. Now this work seems to have led to a revolving door to the trainer's room.

Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are two of the biggest names to have gone down, but they've also lost a very good reliever in Brian Bruney.

Also, the two young pitchers in the rotation that General Manager Brian Cashman supported keeping as opposed to trading have not pitched well. That is putting it politely.

When Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes start games, the Yankees simply do not win. This has led to speculation about putting Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation, and reactionary statements from Hank Steinbrenner. Perhaps he's not such a "Baby Boss" after all.

But all is not lost. Once Rodriguez and Posada come back, the offense will look like it did before, and give protection to an anemic Jason Giambi (who, as of this writing, is hitting .155).

Kennedy and Hughes will get it together, albeit slowly. Unfortunately for Hughes it won't be until at least July, due to a cracked rib (yet another injury).

As for Chamberlain, keeping him in the bullpen gives the Yankees a deadly one-two punch they haven't had since 1996. Coupling him with Mariano Rivera is as unbeatable a combination as the league has ever seen. Hopefully, the Yankees keep it that way.   

The Mets are in a similar boat, for different reasons. The specter of last year's epic collapse still hangs over the fans, players, and organization—no matter how many pep talks Willie Randolph gives.

A team that should have gone to the World Series in 2006 and made the playoffs in 2007 has won just one playoff series in two years. This does not bode well for General Manager Omar Minaya, or for the deep-pocketed ownership.

And the fans aren't relaxed either. They see disaster in every two-game losing streak.

Early this year Carlos Delgado didn't hit a lick, and Oliver Perez has been erratic. Plus there is a sense in the media that the team doesn't have the intensity or fire to win. Much of this is blamed on Randolph's low-key personality. 

But Mets fans, like Yankees fans, need to relax. The season is young, and there are many reasons to be optimistic.

The Yankees bullpen, including the beleaguered Kyle Farnsworth, has been very good. The Mets' closer, Billy Wagner, has been brilliant. Both teams have enough offense to recover.

As average as the Yankees have been, they are only 3.5 games behind Boston. As much as the Mets have struggled, they are only 1.5 games behind Philadelphia in a logjam NL East. Girardi's hitters are coming back, and Randolph is not one to push the panic button.

It's still very early.


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