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New York Baseball Preview

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Another year of baseball has arrived. The Cubs were champions last year, but it appears that there are many challengers to the throne this time around. However, we’ll be focusing on what to expect from the New York ball clubs.

Wasserman:

The Yankees have established a new focus as of last year. They are focusing on cultivating young players (gasp). For decades, the Yankees have consistently traded away prospects for older, established players to decent success. As of obtaining Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier for Aroldis Chapman (who has returned this season as a free agent) and Andrew Miller respectively (among other players), the Yankees are looking to the future. If you said to someone ten years ago, that the Yankees would have the best farm system in the league, they would laugh uncontrollably in your face, but now, that is the truth. On top of Torres (SS) and Frazier (OF), the Yankees also have players like Blake Rutherford (OF), James Kaprelian (SP), Jorge Mateo (SS), and Justus Sheffield (SP) coming up through their system.

This season for the Yankees is more of a transition year. They got rid of several big contracts last year, and are waiting to make a big free agent splash next offseason. This year will be focused on cultivating their younger players, to strengthen the team for next season. The Yankees are starting the season with starting shortstop Didi Gregorius on the disabled list, so infielder Pete Kozma will begin the season on the major league roster. Their starting pitching is probably their worst quality this year. Masahiro Tanaka, the team’s ace, had a fantastic season last year. The only problem is that the other three starters (they are starting this season with four starters, instead of the traditional five), CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino need to redeem themselves after last year. Sabathia was decent for his age last year, but not good enough to be a #2 starter, Pineda has never lived up to his previous potential (he is still young), and Severino spent some time in the minors, which is surprising given his good 2015 performance.

With a bullpen consisting of Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and closer Aroldis Chapman, they are very much set for years to come. In terms of the offense, the Yankees will probably be quite mediocre. Young players Aaron Judge and Greg Bird (who missed all of last year due to injury) need to prove themselves this season. New additions Matt Holliday and Chris Carter (who led the NL in home runs last year with 41) need to fill their roles, and the rest of the lineup (except for Starlin Castro, who had a good year last year) need to improve on rather mediocre to poor seasons last year. The obvious exception is starting catcher, Gary Sanchez, who is entering his first full season last year. In 53 games last year, Sanchez hit 20 home runs. That was an amazing run by him, but he will need to prove that he can sustain such power for a 162 games.

For all of those reasons, I predict that the Yankees will finish this year in third place in the AL East, and a record of 84-78. In this transition year, the Yankees just need to focus on gearing up for a playoff season next year.

 

 

Laufer:

Some may consider 2016 a disappointing season for New York, and those concerns are justifiable. The Mets have eased some worries in Spring Training, but the regular season is unpredictable.

While the Mets entered the playoffs for a second consecutive year, it was not easy. The pitching staff took turns on the DL and the hitting was all-or-nothing. However, a few late additions from last season and the off-season may make the difference this time around.

The starters will be back. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz all finished the season on the disabled list, but each participated in spring training, and the returns were solid. Unfortunately for the Mets, Matz is already beginning the year on the 15-day disabled list. Luckily for New York, they’re roster is the best-equipped in the league to handle a blow to their pitching staff. Zack Wheeler, the 27-year-old righty who has thrown exactly one inning since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, is ready to go this season. He’s a big-time prospect who could solidify a great staff. Also, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are the unsung heroes of the of last year’s campaign. Without them the Mets would have surely sunken to the bottom of the NL East. The team can no longer rely on the reliable King Bart this year, as he has joined the Braves’ rebuilding process.

Much of the lineup remains the same for the Metropolitans. The biggest moves of the off-season were resigns: Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker. They also retained LHP Jerry Blevins and catcher Rene Rivera. Both have played specialized (but valuable) roles. The losses of Kelly Johnson, Alejandro DeAza, and James Loney will have little impact on the team. They won’t be greatly missed. Still, David Wright will struggle to man his spot on the hot corner. He’s scheduled to miss the beginning of the season, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll regain his status as a star. Jose Reyes filled in admirably for Wright when he went down last season. Reyes provides a spark and speed to the lineup that has been missing for many years. The lineup looks stacked with power and talent, as long as everyone stays healthy. Lucas Duda’s big bat will make a big return at first base.

The outfield appears loaded, on paper. Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, and Curtis Granderson should make up for their lack of defense with superb hitting. The young stud Michael Conforto will platoon in the outfield and first base. He looks to bounce back after a rough sophomore year. He rounds out a particularly strong bench, including: Rene Rivera, TJ Rivera, Ty Kelly, Wilmer Flores, and Juan Lagares.

Overall, the Mets should be in store for a season that builds on last year. They roughed out some of the edges on the roster and are strong in all areas. The key factor for the season is health. Matz, Lagares, Lugo, and Wright are on the disabled list to start the season. The Mets are a deep enough team to compensate, but they cannot handle many more blows. However, if New York can stay off the DL, a big year is waiting. The Mets will finish the season 93-69. They’ll battle with the Nationals all summer, but come out victorious and head to a third straight postseason berth — a feat that has not been pulled off in the ball club’s 55-year existence.

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