On Thursday, it all begins for both the Yankees and Mets. It’s a time for hope and a time to dream, but we’ll try to keep it as real as we can.
The season expectations for the local teams are...let’s just say...different.
For the Yankees it’s simple: World Series or bust. This is a team that has been to the playoffs the last two years with a young core that is built for longterm success
They have power bats and power arms in the bullpen, and are coming off a 100-win season. They are also a team licking their wounds from losing to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS a season ago.
But the youth and feel-good “playoff rides” are in the past. This is a team that has the talent to be baseball’s best.
The Yankees are better than last year. I love the addition of James Paxton and DJ Lemahieu, because they are players capable of strengthening two potential weaknesses of this team.
Paxton can be a top-of-the-line starter. While LeMahieu is a player who provides versatility and puts the bat on the ball.
Can they pitch well enough? Can they hit in situational settings? Those two things will make or break the Yankees chances of a division title and a World Series.
For the Mets, expectations are quite different.
The Mets are coming off two sub-par seasons. That said, they are a vastly improved baseball team.
The bullpen is much deeper with the additions of Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson. And the lineup is deeper with the additions of Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos and Jed Lowrie.
However, baseball is a young man’s game more than ever before.
The Mets will need their young position players to perform at a high level, consistently.
They will need Michael Conforto to play like an All-Star all year. They will need Brandon Nimmo to be just as good, if not better, than last year.
The Mets need Ahmed Rosario to anchor shortstop and Pete Alonso to provide right-handed power at first base.
Are the Mets better? Yes, however there are too many “if’s” for me to put this team back in the postseason.
If the Mets are playing in October, the season was a success.
Differing expectations, yes, but anything can happen. Let the games begin!