As the 2022 baseball season approaches its first pitch, all 30 teams are preparing for the grind that comes with a new year and the excitement of starting with a clean slate. While some teams have higher expectations than others, it’s clear that both the Mets and Yankees have one goal in mind; bringing a World Series back to New York.
The 27-time champion New York Yankees are coming off a disappointing year by their standards, where they lost the AL Wild Card Game to the rival Boston Red Sox. The perennial World Series contenders will look to start the season strong in hopes of contending in a very difficult and much improved AL East division.
The Yankees were much more active in trades this off-season than they were in free agency. Their biggest move of the off-season was a trade with the Minnesota Twins that brought 2015 AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, to the Yankees along with shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt. That same trade sent catcher Gary Sanchez and third baseman Gio Urshela to the Twins. The Yankees feel confident that Kyle Higashioka can step up as the starting catcher after Sanchez’s departure.
Donaldson should fit right into one of the better lineups in the league, joining Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Joey Gallo. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, whom the Yanks acquired from the Chicago Cubs at last year’s trade deadline, was signed to a two-year deal to remain with the club. The decision to keep Rizzo doesn’t leave a lot of playing time for others at the first base position. As a result, the Yankees decided to trade slugging first baseman Luke Voit to the San Diego Padres.
On the pitching side of things, ace Gerrit Cole leads a rotation that has a lot of question marks surrounding it. Fans can expect Cole to put up Cy Young caliber numbers this year, but it’s uncertain what they can expect from the rest of the rotation. Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgomery are both solid middle-of-the rotation pieces who will need to hold down the fort until Domingo German returns from a shoulder injury. Nestor Cortes was excellent in his 14 starts with the Yanks last year, but he has never pitched more than 93 innings in a season. Luis Severino is a great pitcher, when healthy, but has had trouble avoiding injuries and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2018. With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Yankees pitching staff, it might be wise for them to add a starter or two to give the rotation more depth. Still, their explosive offense should provide the pitchers with enough run support to get by.
On the other side of the Subway Series, the Mets had an extremely busy off-season after a very disappointing 2021 campaign saw them miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year. Along with the flurry of acquisitions the team made, they needed to fill their general manager and head coaching vacancies and did so by hiring Billy Eppler as GM and longtime manager, Buck Showalter, as the head coach.
The long list of transactions made by the Mets is headlined by the addition of the future Hall of Fame pitcher, Max Scherzer, to bolster their rotation. The three-time Cy Young award winner signed a three-year deal with the Mets and is expected to fit perfectly as the number two pitcher behind ace Jacob deGrom. Unfortunately, baseball fans will have to wait to watch this pitching duo take the league by storm as it was announced that deGrom will be out until at least June with a shoulder injury.
Luckily for the Mets, Scherzer wasn’t the only pitcher added to their rotation this off-season. They also acquired starting pitcher Chris Bassitt from the Oakland Athletics in a trade that sent prospects JT Ginn and Adam Oller to the A’s. Bassitt had a great four-year stint with Oakland and should be a great addition to a Mets staff that also includes Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco. The Mets will hope to see Walker pitch as he did in the first half of last year before being named an all-star and eventually fading off during the stretch that saw him eclipse the most innings he’s thrown since 2015. Carrasco, on the other hand, will look to return to form after an injury riddled 2021 season only allowed him to pitch in 12 games. The Mets believe that they have the pitching depth necessary to make it through the season with starters Tylor Megill and David Peterson ready to be called upon.
After letting Michael Conforto and Javier Baez walk, the Mets needed to figure out a plan to add to their lineup and did so with a frenzy of signings. In a span of two days, the Mets signed outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte along with infielder Eduardo Escobar. Canha and Escobar provide the Mets with some additional power behind slugger Pete Alonso while Marte gives the Mets a bonafide base stealing threat that they’ve lacked for many years. The team will also hope for bounceback years from Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith to improve an offense that finished 27th in the league in runs scored in 2021.
While the Mets and Yankees approached their off seasons in different ways, they both feel that they made the moves necessary to contend for the upcoming season. Both teams are expected to compete for a division title with hopes of advancing far into October. But for now, let’s enjoy the sight of a new baseball season getting underway and see how both teams live up to expectations.
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