HOT STOVE UPDATE: Yanks Spend Big Bucks, Mets so far Stand Pat with Sub-par Offense

JacobyEllsbury9-28-13BY CHAYIM TAUBER

How sad is this?

With New York sports in the worst funk it may have ever been in, the team inspiring the most hope amongst its fans and constituents might just be the New York Yankees.

The Yankees have made the biggest splash of the offseason (outside of a Prince Fielder trade) by signing seven-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann and by agreeing to a contract with former Red Sox All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury.

The signings come on the heels of a disappointing season in which the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the first time in five seasons and only the second time in 19 years. The Yankees organization has become completely waylaid by bad pitching and even worse contracts. To combat this bad-signing epidemic, the Yankees have opted to give a seven-year contract to a soon-to-be 31-year-old outfielder who relies on speed and is seemingly always injured.

Though Ellsbury (and McCann in particular) will add instant punch to an offense that was lethargic throughout last season, the wisdom of a long-term contract for Ellsbury needs to be questioned. Ellsbury missed roughly 30 games last season, about 90 the year before, missed just about all of 2010….the injury list is a lengthy one. He does instantly add some punch at the top of the lineup where he brings his “best leadoff hitter in baseball” status to the Bronx. He and Brett Gardner (who may now be trade-bait) for the moment form one of the fastest and best defensive 2/3 of an outfield in the game and could cause serious headaches for any team forced to contend with them on the base-paths.

McCann, one of the league’s premiere catchers over the last decade gives the Yankees some much needed power and consistency in a lineup that looks like it may well be losing Robinson Cano (who is reportedly deep in conversation with the Seattle Mariners). The 5x silver slugger award winner instantly moves into the middle of a lineup that figures to be a lot better than last season, as they get back first basemen Mark Teixeira , return Alfonso Soriano, and now is paced by two of the fastest men in the sport. On top of that, Cano may still come back and though outfielder Curtis Granderson is likely to leave, he was injured most of last season anyway.

The bigger area of concern with the Yankees remains the pitching staff (for which there unfortunately isn’t much available help on the market). And in the long run, Yankees fans should be worried about five years from now when Ellsbury and McCann are in the twilight of their careers and still being paid the big bucks.

Of course, these problems are a far-cry from the issues the Mets are dealing with.

The Mets, as usual and despite assurances to the contrary, don’t seem to be in the spending money business. They’ve non-tendered just about everyone they could and have so far signed mediocre outfielder Chris Young, who for a similar price is unlikely to match the production of Marlon Byrd.

Blown away yet?

This season looks to be something of a throw-away season for the Mets as they wait for injured ace Matt Harvey to recover from Tommy John surgery. Still, the Mets are in dire need of a bat in the lineup not named David Wright, so that Harvey and friends have a chance to occasionally win a game in which a run is scored against them. The Mets are reportedly in serious conversation with former Yankees centerfielder Curtis Granderson who would add some power and speed to a lineup that badly needs it. There are holes in Granderson’s game (ANOTHER lefty that strikes out a ton) but it would be a big move for the Mets who are spending another winter doing little other than anger a fan-base that is sick to tears of nobodies like Valdespin and Quintanilla in the starting lineup.

On the bright side for the Mets, even without Harvey their starting pitching corps is young and solid, with a lot of upside. Is it possible in the coming years for the Mets to make a San Francisco Giants-esque run at the playoffs based on solid pitching? It worked for the Gints in both 2010 and 2012, so fans are banking on it. Besides that faint dream, there’s not much for Mets fans to hang their hats on in 2014.

Hot Stove is definitely hot, stay tuned to see how it plays out.

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