The 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline was one of the more eventful and entertaining that I can remember in quite a while.
There was a ton of activity and big names were on the move and both local teams were actively involved in the proceedings.
The Yankees drastically changed the entire feel of their lineup by adding two lefty power bats in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. When I heard the news about both trades, I was far more enthusiastic regarding the Rizzo move.
It’s nothing against Joey Gallo, who will most certainly help the Yankees with his power, on-base prowess and defense, but he strikes out way too much for my liking.
Rizzo fits the Yankees perfectly. He won a World Series with the Cubs, he is one of the toughest hitters to strike out in baseball, and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base.
This weekend, Rizzo was in the middle of everything for the Yankees in their sweep of the Miami Marlins. He hit two big home runs, a game-tying hit on Sunday, and made play after play in the field.
For months it bothered me to no end that the Yankees lacked enough left-handed hitters. I’m glad they have finally changed that.
Both Rizzo and Gallo should be a part of the team beyond 2021, and will be needed in the short term to help pick up the slack for a pitching staff dealing with all sorts of adversity.
The Yankees will need to be a lot better offensively considering Domingo German was just placed on the Injured List and ace Gerrit Cole recently tested positive for COVID-19.
On the other side of town, the Mets may still be in first place in the NL East, but their recent play over the last few weeks signaled a team in need of a spark. Jacob deGrom is out until September, Francisco Lindor is nowhere to be found, and the team has struggled mightily to score runs.
So like the Yankees, the Mets turned to the Chicago Cubs for help and traded for infielder Javier Baez on Friday afternoon.
Baez plays the game with incredible passion and flair. Those attributes should be a positive for a team in serious need of some energy.
Baez will wow you with his power and flashy defense, but he will also frustrate you with the strikeouts and his decision-making at the plate. Much like Joey Gallo, he is not a perfect player, but he fills a major need for the Mets.
In his debut on Saturday night, Baez wasted no time introducing himself to the Citi Field faithful with a critical two-run homer that sparked a much-needed comeback against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Mets have allowed both the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies to get right back in the division race, but they are still a team very much in the driver’s seat.
They will need a lot more big hits from Baez and others if they are going to find their way to the postseason.
The Yankees and the Mets can only hope that both Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez can be as productive as their debuts this past weekend.
We’ll see if the boys from the north side of Chicago can be the difference in getting the boys from Flushing and the Bronx into October.
You can listen to my podcast “New York, New York” on the Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts every Sunday night and Wednesday & Friday mornings.