By Drew Casey
Nearly seven months ago, pitchers and catchers reported for Major League Baseball spring training. It marked the end of the absence of America’s pastime since the Royals handled the Mets in the 2015 World Series.
Entering the 2016 season, there was immense promise for the New York teams. The Mets and Yankees all but had to make the playoffs. Both franchises qualified in 2015 — the Yankees as the first American Wild Card, losing to the Astros at Yankee Stadium in one game to quickly end their Fall Classic hopes — and many thought it would only be easier in 2016.
Yoenis Cespedes was back for the Mets, and Yankee fans were excited for Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to put up power numbers similar to their ’15 performances.
Insert golf injury, an announced retirement and a forced retirement, and that’s only part of the true story in ’16.
By now, you should understand the tone here.
There won’t be much, if any, meaningful October or November baseball in New York this year. Don’t get me wrong, the postseason is possible for both bunches, but it won’t last long if either extends its campaign.
The Mets have been decimated by injury this year. Ray Ramirez, the trainer, is about the only Met who hasn’t gone down this season. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Lucas Duda, David Wright and now Neil Walker are all lost for the year. That’s three starters and two rotation arms.
The list goes on and on, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis d’Arnaud and Cespedes have all missed extended time, and now Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom are joining the group. If you’re counting that’s three more starters and two more rotation arms.
In the National League there’s only 13 spots, 14 if a six man rotation is used. And 10 have missed significant time for the Mets.
It’s amazing that the Mets are just one game out of the second NL Wild Card through Labor Day.
The Yankees have had their fair share of roster turnover as well, but it’s been largely unrelated to injury. Trades and various forms of retirement have given way for the age of Yankee prospects.
Gary Sanchez’s August was one for the record books. Slashing .389/.458/.832, fans find themselves pondering what the rookie’s ceiling could be.
Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin have shown flashes, but despite their poor batting averages, they’re not going anywhere.
Didi Gregorius has emerged as a near All-Star level infield general, and while the rotation has fluctuated, Masahiro Tanaka, 12-4 with a 3.11 ERA, has been the true ace many had hoped for.
With a 71-65 record through Labor Day, one game better than the Mets, the Yanks are remarkably just 3.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card.
While the opportunity is there for both teams, it’s unlikely that either can seize it and make a run for a pennant with such revamped rosters.