The Mets' "cynical ploy"

Leave a comment

On Wednesday, I waxed cynical on the Mets’ reported interest in big fish like Jason Bay:

Here’s a theory
of my own: if the Mets are suddenly thinking bigger, it’s because the
Yankees have been going hog wild (relatively speaking) this week, and
they don’t want to get blown the hell off the back pages of the
tabloids.

Today The Post’s Joel Sherman echoes the sentiment:

Ticket sales are lagging and fans are screaming for the Mets to make a meaningful acquisition. And, poof, they suddenly were acknowledging making an offer yesterday to Jason Bay.

So was this merely a ploy to change the subject or was this a clear change of course this offseason?

I mostly went with my gut In coming to that conclusion. Sherman’s evidence: the fact that the “offer” the Mets reportedly made to Jason Bay was surprisingly similar to one that everyone knows he rejected from the Red Sox, with the thinking being that it was offered precisely because they knew he’d reject it. Sherman goes on to call it a “cynical ploy.” I think Sherman has a good point.

The Yankees have a plan. The Red Sox have a plan. Lots of other teams have a plan. The Mets seem to lurch from idea to idea with no coherent strategy in place. Sure-loser offers to players in whom they had not previously shown an interest is evidence of that.  To date, I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
Leave a comment

If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.