Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal has some interesting figures in his latest column about the Yankees:
Through Wednesday, the average ratings for Yankee games on the YES Network were down 38% compared to the same period last season, according to Nielsen figures.
The drop is even more remarkable when you consider that last year’s ratings were the Yankees’ lowest since 2003.
In the stands, the trend has been similar, if not quite as pronounced. The Yankees are drawing an average home crowd of 39,103, still the fourth highest in baseball but a 6% drop from what it was over the same period in 2012.
The Yankees have been without most of their recognizable faces this year, namely Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, so that is one explanation. Costa also notes that the team has had to compete with the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, and Islanders as all four made the post-season in their respective sports.
Ultimately, though, despite the Yankees’ ability to hang around first place in the AL East in the face of adversity, they do have a philosophical debate to address with Robinson Cano’s pending free agency. Is their attendance and viewership buoyed by the presence of marquee players? If so, Costa writes, they may feel that keeping Cano in town no matter the price and no matter the contract length is imperative.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.