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  • Cory Claus

Yankees take solace in not being the Mets

The Yankees and Mets just wrapped another installment of the Subway Series. The Yanks once again failed to gain ground in the AL East against a bad team. That might cost them a postseason birth. But at least they can take comfort that they’re not having the same season as the Mets.


Mets still waiting for their future to arrive

The Yankees are not having the season they envisioned.


They thought they had a squad ready to win the World Series. And maybe they do, but it doesn’t look likely. At 54-48, the Bronx Bombers are last in the AL East behind the worst defensive team in baseball, the Boston Red Sox.


Those guys aren’t even trying to win.


Their record also has them on the outside looking in at the Wild Card. The Yanks are 2.5 games out, right behind those same Sox.


Worse yet is how the Yankees got here. A month ago, they were nine games over and owned a Wild Card spot. Then they spent a lot of time losing to a lot of bad teams, like the Rockies and the Cubs.


That’s embarrassing.


They can take some slight solace, however, that they’re not wearing the Orange and Blue.


Yankees and Mets and Their Disappearing Dreams


Both teams entered the year with postseason dreams. But while one team still has a serious chance at postseason glory, the other is, well, the Mets.


The Yankees little brothers currently sit seven games under .500 at 47-54. That gives them the fifth-worst record in the National League. That also puts them 7.5 games out of the Wild Card behind four other teams vying for the last spot.


The Yankees, meanwhile, are but two and a half games back in their own Wild Card race. That’s not where they want to be, but it is eminently more reachable with two months still to go in the season and Aaron Judge about to return. That’s a whole lot better position to be in than Cohen’s boys.


But it’s not just that the Mets season has gone down in flames; it’s how they got here.


The last time the boys from Queens had a winning record was way back on June 3rd. Since then, they’ve hacked and gacked and choked their way to their current state.


It’s been Daniel Vogelbach coming up small time and again; it’s been Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor making uncharacteristic errors and always at the wrong time; it’s been repeated failures to score runs with the bases loaded and fewer than two outs; it’s been Manager Buck Showalter pushing all the wrong buttons.


In other words, it’s been the entire Mets team. It might take a village to raise a child, but it only takes 26 men to disappoint an entire borough.


The Yankees understand some of these feelings. If Lindor and Alonso and Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte have underperformed, so to have Stanton and Lemahieu and Rizzo and Donaldson.


Oh boy, has Donaldson underperformed. He’s been the worst of all of them, on either team. He’s been so bad you’d think he plays for the Mets.


Mets Disappointment Hits Them Square in the Face


Perhaps the play that most encapsulates the Mets' futility-filled season happened on July 15th. That’s when highly-ranked prospect 3B Bret Baty misplayed an infield pop-up. Then, as he lay sprawled on the ground reaching out in utter futility, the ball bounced up and hit him in his face.


As amazin’ as that was, the worst part was that it came in the top of the ninth only trailing the Dodgers by a run. Not after that play. The error allowed Mookie Betts to score from third and opened the floodgates as the Dodgers scored three more times to win 5-1.


But don't just read about it. Check out the video for yourself.


Hilarious.


I can, and have, watched the replay time and again. The Yankees Anthony Volpe might not yet be the player many of us think he will be, but at least he’s never been hit in the face by a pop-up.


The only debate now is whether that’s worse than that of “he dropped the ball, he dropped the ball, oh my goodness, he dropped the ball” Luis Castillo.


Oh, the Mets.


The names change but their play remains the same. My only regret is that he didn’t do it against the Yankees…yet.


None of this changes the fact that both teams have underperformed this year. One has just found a more colorful way of doing it. But there are three key differences between them.


Six Degrees of Separation


The first starts with the fact that both teams have been let down by their starting pitching. Carlos Rodon has been out for most of the season with an injury, while Domingo German has been erratic. Luis Severino has featured an exploding fastball, and an exploding ERA of 6.46.


But at least the Yankees ace has been an ace.


Gerrit Cole has a sub-three ERA (2.78) with a WHIP of 1.08. That was good enough to earn him the start in the All-Star game and current contention for the AL Cy Young. Rodon was shaky in his first three starts, but after giving up only one run in 6⅔ last night, he looks like he’s rounding into form.


But sadly for the Mets' preseason dreams, their co-aces have let them down. When Steve Cohen shelled out almost 87 million dollars for Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, he envisioned them as the aces of baseball. His hope had to be that each would pitch at or under a 3.00 ERA.


That hasn’t been the case. Scherzer has been the bigger disappointment by far with his mediocre 4.20 ERA. He’s also given up 22 home runs, among the worst in baseball.


Max Scherzer is most decidedly not in any type of Cy Young discussion.


Neither is Verlander, but at least his 3.24 is more than decent. The problem with that is he has been boom or bust, horrible in some starts and dominant in others. The Mets needed him to be competitive in almost every game, but he hasn’t been.


Another big difference is the age of their top pitchers. While Cole and Rodon are still in their primes at 32 and 30, respectively, Verlander and Scherzer’s best days are behind them. Verlander is 40, while Scherzer is 38.


The Mets are likely already getting the best these two men have left in their games.


Lastly, the two teams have different outlooks for the next couple of seasons. Remember that 87 million? That’s not for the length of their contracts; that’s for one season. Verlander is signed at least through next year for another 43 mill, with a vesting option for 2025 at 35 million. When he’ll be 42.


Scherzer, meanwhile, has a player option for next season at, you guessed it, another 43 million dollars. While no one knows for sure, he seems very likely to pick up his own option.


But it’s not just those two who are clogging up their payroll.


Everywhere you look, there are big money contracts for their underperforming players. Francisco Lindor (.230/.318/.450) is signed through 2031 at 34 million a year, Brandon Nimmo (.260/.356/.443) is under contract until 2030 at 20 million per year, while Starling Marte (.254/.308/.332) is costing them another 20 million for the next two years.


It should be noted that Nimmo’s numbers aren’t bad, but look worse at 20 million a year.


Then there’s Pete Alonso. He might not be having his best year (.216/.313/.499), but he’s still a great player and a cornerstone for the Mets. And he’s going to need to get paid like it, and soon. This year he’s making 14 million, a figure likely to go up next year, his last year of arbitration.


If the Mets want to keep him after that, and they most definitely do, it’s going to cost them 40 million a year, at least.


That’s a lot of payroll on the books for a team with a losing record.


The Yankees, the Mets, and a Whole Lot of Money


The Yankees also have a lot of money on the books, but at least they have some coming off this year and next.


The biggest savings will be from Josh Donaldson and his 21 million. The mercurial Luis Severino is unlikely to return, freeing up his 15 million. Additionally, the Yankees have the prospects to replace Gleyber Torres when he’s traded this December, along with his current salary of 10 million.


Put it all together and the Yankees will enter 2024 with a still very high payroll of 189 million. Still, that gives them at least some room to try to improve. Then at the end of next year, Rizzo’s 17 million goes away.


The Mets, meanwhile, will enter next year at a collective 262 million. They do get quite a lot of relief in 2025, as they’re only at 161 million. But that doesn’t include the 40 million they’ll likely have to give Alonso, nor the money they’ll need to replace Max Scherzer. To get the type of frontline starter they’ll want and need, that’s at least another 35 million.


Now that 161 goes up to 236 million. The Yankees extended payroll, meanwhile, already includes their two top pitchers and their superstar player Aaron Judge.


That’ll be little comfort if the Yanks fail to win the World Series this year, which does look likely.


But at least they and their fans can be happy that they’re not the Mets.




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