This week we take a look at the upcoming baseball season featuring the Yankees and the Mets. Several questions remain unanswered, like can the Yankees finally get back to the top of the baseball world? Can the Mets battle back from their numerous injuries and put their financial woes behind them?
The Yankees are just two years removed from their last championship which saw them open up a new stadium and bring a World Series title back to the Bronx. They finished last season with an American league best 97-65 record only to lose in the first round to the Tigers in five games. This off season saw one of the Yankee all time greats Jorge Posada call it quits after a 17-year run with the franchise. The club also said goodbye to disgruntled starting pitcher AJ Burnett who was shipped to the Pirates last week. Some of the biggest off-season moves by the Bronx Bombers included signing free agent pitchers Freddy Garcia, Hiroki Kuroda, and left fielder Raul Ibanez. The Yankees also brought back some key players from last season’s squad: all-star catcher Russell Martin, center fielder Andrew Jones, third baseman Eric Chavez, and pitchers David Robertson and Phil Hughes. Another big transaction made by the franchise was reconstructing the contract of all-star pitcher CC Sabathia to keep him in a Yankees uniform through 2017. All these moves give manager Joe Giradi whose going into his 5th season at the helm, many options to work with.
The Mets are looking forward to forgetting a dismal 2011 season which saw them go 77-85, deal with many core injuries, and blow many late game leads. The club has also had to deal with very dark financial cloud hanging over beautiful Citi Field. Ever since the franchise found itself in the midst of Bernie Madoff scandal, the team has been financially strapped to score big name free agents. 2011 was also a season that saw the Mets depart with three of their all-stars: Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, and franchise cornerstone Jose Reyes. But the Mets do have a lot to look forward to as second year GM Sandy Alderson made some key off season move to renovate the bullpen which was the clubs most insufficient and weakest position. Several prominent players such as Johan Santana, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, and David Wright are all returning from injuries which should give the Mets a huge and much needed boost. Second year manager Terry Collins said before at the start of spring training, “that the team is not just looking to play out the season, but rather playing to make the post season.” All in all it should be fun and interesting season in Flushing.
Jewish New York baseball fans like me will have an amazing Pesach treat this year when the season gets going in a month from now. Both teams will be playing their division rivals as the Mets open up the 50th season at home against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, April 5. The Yankees kick off the 2012 season on the road going up against their long time division rivals the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, April 6. Jewish Heritage day at Citi Field is set for Sunday August 26, at 1:10 pm and Celebrate Israel night will be held on May 30 at 7:10.