Home SPORTS The Rites of Spring: Mets And Yankees Return

The Rites of Spring: Mets And Yankees Return

by Ohio Digital News

David Stearns is the new president of baseball operations for the New York Mets and Carlos Mendoza is in his first year as a rookie manager. GM Brian Cashman and Manager Aaron Boone return to begin that process of returning the Yankees to another postseason they missed last year.

I always call this the rights of spring.

It’s the return of baseball and it seems like yesterday the Texas Rangers were celebrating their World Series championship, though the off seasons are shorter and some high profiled free agents are still without teams remaining on the board. Regardless, all 30 teams assembled this week in Florida and Arizona. The 2024 season opening series March 20-21 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres will be held in Seoul, South Korea before the regular season for all others begins March 28.

Baseball has gone international and that traditional Opening Day game in Cincinnati is long gone. But this is the time of year when teams begin the long journey to October. In New York there is always hope for October because the Yankees and Mets are surrounded with attention, owners that want to appease a fan base starving for a championship.

But that losing season of 2023 is now in the rear view mirror for both New York teams and perhaps there have not been enough offseason improvements. The Yankees, though, bring Juan Soto to the Bronx which upgrades their lineup. Stearns said Monday down in Port St. Lucie, the Mets will be a championship caliber organization as the Pete Alonso contract watch will be a continuing storyline with the return of elite closer Edwin Diaz.

For sure, the next seven weeks before Opening Day will be interesting and every possibility of another trade or two, or the signing of one or more of those high profiled free agents still on the table. I can’t envision Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, pitcher Jordan Montgomery, infielder Matt Chapman, or outfielder-infielder Cody Bellinger without a team prior to Opening Day,

Regardless, the Yankees and Mets commenced their rights of spring this week. Stearns addressed the media Monday afternoon and had some interesting takes on his new role with the Mets, Alonso, and expectations. Boone will hold court with the media Wednesday afternoon in Tampa.

Stearns assured the Mets would be competitive, though giving in to the Braves and Phillies having a hold on the NL East, not conceding that the Mets would be ruled out of any postseason picture.

There’s always temptation to get better and there’s always temptation when there’s good players available to see how they fit on your roster,” Stearns said. “There’s no perfect answer for this one. When you add an established player, it’s just by nature going to take time from younger players and we have to walk that balance.”

He was referring to the Mets and the deep pockets of owner Steve Cohen, the ability to spend for that player that can make a difference. In his first year, Stearns is using a model of his reign with the Brewers, using youth on the roster and adding depth. He continues to learn about the Mets organization, admitting this is a learning process and an entire season in his role of acclimating despite the reputation of building a winning team.

This offseason, Stearns signed players to one-year contracts and acquired depth to assure the Mets stay competitive in the event of an injury to their lineup, starting rotation, and bullpen to backup Diaz. Last year the Mets sustained a bullpen nightmare when Diaz went down and missed the entire campaign due to an injury sustained at the World Baseball Classic.

Again, that’s in the past and Stearns assured Mets fans it is time for a new beginning. It begins with Stearns, Mendoza, and hope that Alonzo can focus during his free agent year. It’s spring training and the Mets will learn more about youngsters Brett Baty and Mark Vientos, primary focus on positioning third base and also who will command the DH role while handling the loss of prospect Ronny Mauricio who sustained a leg injury in Dominican League play.

With Alonso and that status, Stearns would not go into detail. That is expected with free agency looming and optimism the Mets slugger will remain in New York. Anything is possible with this interesting storyline.

We are not going to get into the specifics of any particular negotiation,” he said. “I am not going to provide any updates or any conversations that exist back and forth, but when you have a real talented baseball player who is really good who is entering the final of club control who happens to be represented by Scott Boras, these things end up generally into free agency and we understand that.”

Understand, though, the Mets have some player decisions to evaluate the next seven weeks and these rights of spring will be competitive. They are not folding on a season, building more with their depth, and youth that Stearns uses as a model.

The Mets will be underdogs and will play the Brewers, Tigers, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals, and Cubs at Citi Field before any of their NL East foes. Last year they played 103 games against teams with winning records, second in baseball next to the Red Sox.

Boone and the Yankees are assembling for the long haul. More to come after that first meeting with the media, but the Yankees know the mission after Brian Cashman called last year a disaster. Soto could be a difference maker and they hope Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton have rebound seasons with a healthy Aaron Judge. And bounce backs for pitchers Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes,

Hey, these are the rites of spring.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter @Ring786) Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

The post The Rites of Spring: Mets And Yankees Return appeared first on NY Sports Day.

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