They just played each other last weekend, and they meet again next month. We have two baseball teams in this town. It can be fun to compare them.
The way the Mets are going, it can also be a little unfair.
Let’s be unfair.
The Mets were shut out again on Wednesday, dropping a 2-0 matinee to the Braves in Atlanta. Their season has spun out of control.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are riding high, with the best winning percentage in baseball (.694) going into the day.
The Mets’ offensive problems you know about. Those are well chronicled on other pages of this newspaper.
Here are the Yankees’ offensive problems:
- Their 25-year-old All-Star catcher isn’t hitting, so Gary Sanchez is getting a few days off and backup Austin Romine is playing. Romine entered Wednesday night’s game against the Nationals batting .348.
- Their $325-million designated hitter isn’t off to a great start in his new city. Giancarlo Stanton went into the night with 15 home runs, which would lead the Mets by four.
- Their 21-year-old Rookie of the Year candidate probably should be hitting higher than ninth. Second baseman Gleyber Torres hit his 12th home run in 150 at-bats in the fifth inning. That would lead the Mets by one.
- Their 25-year-old sweet-swinging (but oft-injured) first baseman is off to a slow start after coming back from ankle surgery. Greg Bird hit his third home run of the season in the second inning.
The Yankees aren’t perfect — far from it. Owner Hal Steinbrenner admitted as much on Wednesday when he said the Yankees will need to add starting pitching before the trade deadline.
“I think there’s definitely a need,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s definitely one of the areas we’re going to be looking at.”
Now, here’s Steinbrenner’s money quote. Mets fans, avert your eyes:
“We purposely left a decent amount of money just for this.”
Money, money, money. It makes the world go ’round and some say it’s the root of all evil. For the Yankees, it’s always there and always lurking. For the Mets, it always seems to be in short supply.
Which in a very roundabout way brings us back to Bird and the teams’ first-base situations. The Yankees have money to spend because they have hit on a number of their younger, cheaper players: Torres, Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, Luis Severino.
Bird should be part of that hit parade, but the guy just gets hurt too darn much. He went into Wednesday with nine hits in 51 at-bats for a .176 average.
Manager Aaron Boone dropped Bird from the third perch in the order to seventh on Wednesday and put Didi Gregorius into the three-hole between Judge and Stanton. On Tuesday, Gregorius hit two home runs while Bird went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and looked bad doing it.
But the Yankees won on Tuesday, 3-0. Ho-hum. Bird’s struggles didn’t get noticed anywhere other than the manager’s office. So Boone did something. Unlike Mickey Callaway, this rookie manager has options.
For Callaway, two months were wasted learning what seemed obvious last season and in spring training: Adrian Gonzalez wasn’t an offensive force anymore. He was finally released late Sunday night.
The Mets signed Gonzalez as a wedge against Dominic Smith, who at 22 seems like a can-miss prospect at this point. That’s why you’re hearing so much about Double-A first baseman Peter Alonso, a slugger who could be at Citi Field before season’s end.
The Yankees expect Bird to work out — if he can stay on the field. He followed his home run by pulling a leadoff double into the rightfield corner in the seventh. He also made three nice defensive plays, including a pair of scoops on bounced throws. All of his skills were on display. But the Yankees’ world won’t end if Bird is a bust. They’ll just find another first baseman, even if they have to buy one.
To a Mets fan, it almost seems unfair. Probably because it is.