Tone Deaf Wallace Matthews Misses the Point on Yankees and Mets

mets_vs_yankeesSometimes you just know when ESPN is going to issue a clickbait article written by a Journalist in full “shill” mode. It’s sort of the same feeling when Michael Pineda’s slider is on or Mark Teixeira is slumping and sees a curve ball in the dirt.

You know early on the outcome and you can predict the next few minutes.

This was the immediate vibe given off of the opening line from Wallace Matthews in his article stating the New York Mets are the new Yankees.

“Between the end of their 2015 season — a three-hour, four-minute throttling by Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros in the American League wild-card play-in game — and today, the New York Yankees have signed 14 free agents, traded for seven players, bought one and claimed one off waivers”

Yes, Wallace, that 3-0 loss where both teams combined for eight hits sure was a “throttling”. I can only imagine how you felt about Mets losses the entire first half of the year or in the World Series.

Because outside of failing to score and losing close games, I can’t figure out your definition of a “throttling”.

This isn’t meant to take a shot at the Mets, but it is meant to frame perspective on the two franchises beyond the following:

“Slide all the beads over to Flushing and rack ’em up. In the cutthroat world of New York City baseball, the Mets, who won the 2015 regular season and postseason, have won the 2016 offseason, too”.

Let’s get a few things straight about the 2015 baseball season. Yes, the Mets won more games and the NL East with 90 wins to the Yankees’ first wildcard slot accomplishment and its 87 victories. And indisputably, the Mets had the better overall season by reaching the World Series for the first time since 2000.

Even from a sentimental standpoint, the Mets ended a drought of no postseason since 2006 while the Yankees had only been out of the “dance” since 2012.

But look a little bit closer and factor in the full picture. If not for ownership correctly identifying the Nationals as a pretender and if not for a failed Carlos Gomez trade and if not for the lineup getting healthy at the same time and the Yankees playing 14-14 in September once Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira all went down, or Brett Gardner getting hit in the hand and never recovering, or the Mets finishing 16-11 in September- none of the feel-good part of the Mets in a 162 game sample size is accurate. The Mets were 74-61 at the end of August and the Yankees were 73-61. A whopping half a game difference! Proclamations! Franchise altering!

No, actually, none of that, just the Blue Jays and Nationals happened.

And by the way, if the Yankees played in the NL East but had the competition of the AL, they would have won the division by four games. If they played the Phillies and Marlins 36 times instead of seven times, they’re probably winning more than 90 games regardless of which month they faced them. But all of those are excuses when trying to justify the Yankees over the Mets in a one year sample size.

They’re just not excuses when declaring one has “overtaken” the other in the big picture.

The Mets took 10 years to rebuild a playoff contender. The Yankees took three. The Mets look like they are a playoff contender this season again by signing Yoenis Cespedes at 30-years-old to a short term contract. The Yankees are playoff contenders again despite not signing a free agent to a major league deal (a convenient part of the “14 free agents” left out.

Wallace Matthews can opine for George Steinbrenner all he wants but the fact of the matter is Gene Michael’s farm system sent the Yankees to four world championships and six AL Pennants primarily, not George’s ability to spend. And not to mention, you’re a little out of touch with a business when you are still comparing its leadership to a former boss who died six years ago and hasn’t been in control of the team in almost a decade.

And in a greater picture, the Yankees are not the frugal, Bernie Madoff victimized, front office the Mets are because they didn’t spend this winter. Matthews correctly identified them as a team cutting payroll and rebuilding but fails to credit them with maintaining a winning record in the process and overall since the end of 1993. He understands the Yankees’ plan, but acts like because they were “throttled” in save opportunity fashion, this plan somehow started this year and not since 2009.

The reason the Mets and Yankees haven’t changed identities? The Yankees can rebuild and remain a playoff team while the Mets took a decade to reach the same level.

And though the Yankees’ rotation has less of an upside, it is younger than the Mets, it has a superior bullpen, they both have innings’ issues in their rotation (making the bullpen that much more important) and they both still need bats. The outlook of changing identifies based on one team lasting longer in one season in the playoffs is a little far-fetched.

When the Mets have their amazing rotation locked up long-term, with middle of the order bats under contract and they’re a perennial threat with a title or two under their belts, then we can talk about franchise altering. For now, the Yankees’ biggest moves happened to be getting younger in three different areas by trading for Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman and Aaron Hicks. There is nothing un-Yankee like about that. Buying Justin Upton doesn’t make you a long-term World Series contender, it only puts Brett Gardner out of a job and forces the team to sell low on his affordable salary.

Some grasp of the Yankees’ identity. Even George picked his battles but they’re a lot easier to pick when the farm system hands you a Hall of Fame core good for 15 years.

The Yankees’ identity is not being strong-armed to sign a player another ESPN writer on the same home page threw cold water on so the fanbase won’t revolt over a lack of spending. That comes from years of neglect and bitterness. The Mets, if they really do open their wallet, have a chance to be great in the rotation for a long time and it should translate into playoff contention. That includes with seemingly perennially weak bullpen, its best hitter signed short-term, overrated and already 30-years-old and with no sample size the team is willing to commit on anything else long-term in general yet.

The Yankees will spend big in 2-3 years with the goal of having a core built around homegrown, cost-controlled, young talent. The same goal it has always been when the team has been successful.

Nothing has changed about that.

 

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