The Yankees have been the top team in New York for years, but could that be about to change?
The Bronx Bombers are no longer the powerhouse they once were as they have missed the playoffs in two constitutive seasons.
Meanwhile, the Mets are believed to be a team on the rise with a highly ranked farm and solid core of young talent.
In an article by Justin Terravnova of the NY Post, four former MLB executives gave their opinions on which New York team is the best.
Here are their responses:
Eric Wedge (ESPN analyst, former Indians and Mariners manager): I would lean toward the Mets. They’re hungry, right there on the cusp. [Matt] Harvey being back is big and I think [Juan] Lagares is going to have a big year. [Michael] Cuddyer is going to be a big pickup for them because he’s going to be a great leader in the clubhouse.
Jim Duquette (SiriusXM analyst, former Mets GM): If [Masahiro] Tanaka and [Michael] Pineda make 30-32 starts, they’ll be a postseason team. The Mets are good enough pitching- and player-wise to get there if everything goes well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had similar records, and the NL is a little weaker.
Keith Law (ESPN analyst, former Blue Jays exec): The Yankees are the better team this season, the Mets offense is a significant weakness. The outfielders aren’t going to be that productive, they are playing the wrong guy at shortstop, probably playing the wrong guy at second base with Dilson Herrera essentially major league ready, a diminished David Wright at third. But the Mets’ farm system is in much better shape.
While it’s difficult to draw a significant distinction between the two teams this season, most are of the opinion the Mets’ farm system has the team in solid shape. The same cannot be said for the Yankees.
The Yankees have added a good bit of talent, but it’s far away. Where the Mets have talent near, far, some in the big leagues, some that could be in the big leagues like [Noah] Syndergaard if they needed him to, but they’ve got tremendous depth.
Dan O’Dowd (MLB Network analyst, former Rockies GM): Somewhere along the line with the Yankees, there have been issues. They’ve had three players since 2004 in Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain who were first-round picks and are no longer with the team.
Duquette: Look at Gerrit Cole who didn’t sign and Andrew Brackman with injuries. Guys who didn’t work out because somebody didn’t do their homework or maybe there was something in their development.
It appears now that Yankees GM Brian Cashman has set out a new course this offseason with the acquisition of players like Nathan Eovaldi and Didi Gregorius. Players who have had major league difficulties, but could be coming into their prime if the proper adjustments are made.
Law: I don’t care how much money you have you can’t have a continuously contending major league team if you cannot identify and develop talent. The first great experiment will be Eovaldi’s splitter. If that pitch works, he goes from a No. 4 starter to a No. 2.
O’Dowd: What could make the Yankees lethal? Great young players and payroll flexibility. … Then you have a chance to slaughter people. But when you’re constantly recycling older players, who are very talented but you are getting at the highest value, you’re not taking advantage of the market dynamics.
I agree with Duquette’s assessment that it wouldn’t be surprising to see the two teams wind up with a similar record. While they are constructed very differently, their amount of major league talent seems to be fairly close.
More importantly, however, is how the Mets stack up with their competitors in the National League.
They face a tough challenge playing in the same division as the Nationals, who won 96 games last year and added Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer to their rotation.
The Mets likely path to the postseason will be a wild card spot, which should make for a very exciting race.
The Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals and Pirates will be in the mix for the playoffs while improved teams such as the Padres, Cubs and Marlins could potentially make a surprise run.