The cool winter air brought the Evil Empire a glaring, once in a lifetime opportunity. A chance was at the forefront to acquire arguably the greatest starting pitcher to come along in the last decade was balked at by general manager Brian Cashman. Weeks later, the Mets decided to part with a large collection of promising youth to land Johan Santana.
Friday evening when the Mets travel across town to do battle with the Yankees, they will showcase their crown jewel to the seemingly pitching starved Bombers. They will get a look first hand at the player that could have been the anchor of a pitching staff that has been their organizations biggest enigma thus far in 2008. When last season came to a close, many around baseball circles expected Santana to be toeing the rubber in Yankee stadium this season but certainly not while dawning blue and orange.
“The Yankees resigned Alex Rodriguez because they wanted him on their team thinking he may break the all-time home run record in a Yankees uniform,” explained one die hard Mets fan. “Instead, they should have let him go and used the money to acquire Santana to improve an aging pitching staff.”
My feel on the move personally, is that the Yankees brass was foolish to pass on Santana. Ian Kennedy is nothing to write home to mother about, they billed him to be this top flight hurler coming off of only 19 innings pitched in the majors. He may or may not turn out to be a solid starter, but he is no ace and never will become one. If his initial 2008 stint is any indication, his luster has begun to wear on GM’s around baseball.
“They should have done the trade.” Admitted life long Yankee fan Vinny C. “Hughes got hurt and looked like he belonged in Triple-A, and Kennedy was just as bad. He could be like Santana one day, but right now he isn’t pitching like him, right now I think it was a mistake to not make the trade, but in the future it might work out.”
Whether or not the Yankees made the right decision on shunning Santana will always be scrutinized until both Hughes and Kennedy prove they are franchise cornerstones. That may take years, and the way the Yankees are currently constructed, the choice may ultimately cost Cashman his job.
“The Yankees are built to win now.” Explained Mets fan Billy Merz. “The Yankees are a win now organization, even if Hughes and Kennedy win down the road, they can do no better than Santana would have definitely given them, with the kids, there is no definite.”
Subway stations always present themselves as a pep rally of sorts when this cross town series takes center stage. The hot topic amongst all riding the rails is the great Mets against Yankees debate, the series has become quite a spectacle for media and fans alike. For the Mets however, their focus must squarely be set on winning. Coming off a home stand which saw them go 3-4 to the lowly Reds and Nationals, the Amazins have appeared to be anything but.
Bragging rights are on the line for both sides of town. In the Mets eyes, they cannot treat it as anything more than just another game they have to win. The Yankees are quite vulnerable to lefty starting pitching, and the Mets will throw at them the aforementioned Santana, as well as Oliver Perez, who dominated them in last years meeting. The Bombers have struggled as of late, and they will have the daunting task of facing the Mets three most feared pitches. As you flock to the four and the seven trains this weekend and head down the track, the Mets themselves will look to get back on the winning track.