Jastremski: An Amazin’ Statement

By John Jastremski

Four plus months into the 2022 season and contrary to popular belief, I haven’t seen any similarities between the current edition of the New York Mets and the 2015 team that won the pennant. 

Why? The 2022 team is leaps and bounds better. 

It’s not even close — and the record proves my point. 

The Mets have been a first place team all season as opposed to 2015 where the Mets were .500 for 4 months. 

For the first time all year, I noticed a similarity that gave me a 2015 flashback. 

The New York Mets buried the Atlanta Braves in the same way the 2015 Mets team buried the Washington Nationals. 

This past weekend was a brilliant display of baseball on so many different fronts that should have the fan base jumping for joy. 

The Mets had the Braves closing in their rearview mirror the months of June and July. 

The Mets had terrific months, but the Braves kept winning. 

You wanted to see how the Mets would handle their biggest series of the year? 

Well, they passed with flying colors. 

Sure, they won 4 out of 5 games. That’s outstanding, but think about some of the stars of the weekend. 

The Mets three headed pitching monster looked unhittable against one of baseball’s best lineups. 

It started on Thursday night. Mets manager Buck Showalter set a tone for the weekend: that we are here to win and to win big. 

He decided to call upon Edwin Diaz for a six-out save after an easy 8th inning, and Diaz delivered. 

Saturday, the Mets counted on their bulldog hired gun Max Scherzer to complete a doubleheader sweep. Scherzer delivered seven shutout innings with relative ease. 

On Sunday, the icing on the cake. Jacob deGrom’s first Citi Field start of 2022 and was perfect for five plus innings, striking out twelve. 

It was pretty clear to me, if you have a healthy Scherzer, deGrom and Diaz come playoff time, you can beat anyone in a short series. 

You combine that firepower on the mound with a lineup that makes pitchers work, puts the ball in play and has a knack for getting the big hit, well then. 

You’re cooking with gas! 

The Mets have it all rolling in mid August, but in reality unlike 2015, this team has been rolling all damn year. 

You don’t win any parades in August, but the statement was pretty clear this past weekend. 

The Mets are the best team in the NL East and boy are they dangerous… 

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Monday, Wednesday & Friday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight after Mets postgame on SNY.

John Jastremski: A Passing Storm Or A Storm Front For the NY Locals?

By John Jastremski

Back in late March, I think it’s fair to say that both respective NY baseball fan bases would have signed on the dotted line for where they stand in late July heading into the Subway Series. 

Imagine saying in late March that the Yankees would have a 12.5 division lead and be 35 games over .500? 

Or how about the Mets finding a way to maintain a 2 game lead in the National League East without Jacob deGrom throwing a pitch in the 2022 season. 

Sure, the first four months were a whole lot of positive vibes for the NY Baseball locals, but the last few weeks have highlighted that despite the amazing four months of winning ball that both teams have treated us two, neither team is perfect. 

The Yankees depth has been tested for the first time all season. 

They lost Luis Severino in the rotation to the IL. 

The bullpen has lost Chad Green and now Michael King for the season. 

The Yankees feeling of invincibility was quieted in a recent doubleheader sweep at the hands of the hated Houston Astros. 

The Astros outpitched, outhit and outplayed the Yankees every which way. 

You combine the Yankees history in Houston, the Yankees playoff history against the Astros and the recent injury bug, it only heightens the importance of the next two weeks for Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.  

There is work to do. 

The Yankees need a big starter, an outfielder to replace the inept Joey Gallo & a bullpen arm or two to supplement the losses of Green and King. 

The Yankees need a big move, they’ve been knocking at the door of an American League Pennant for the last five years, the time to go big is now. 

For the Mets, the heightened concern about the state of affairs has been triggered by a few reasons. 

The Mets offense has been MIA for a few weeks. 

The team that was getting every big hit in the first two plus months of the year stopped hitting. 

The Mets simply don’t have enough power within their lineup. It is an absolute must to get more power to compliment Pete Alonso. 

There is a lengthy shopping list for the Mets heading into the August 2nd trade deadline. 

Power bat? Power bullpen arms? Help Wanted! 

I fully expect the Mets and their aggressive ownership group to make the necessary moves over the next few weeks, but the biggest million dollar question still hovers over the franchise. 

What version of Jacob deGrom are you getting off the Injured List? 

The difference between vintage deGrom and so so deGrom could determine the fate of the season. 

However, complimenting a struggling Mets lineup with much needed power could make deGrom more of a luxury and not a necessity. 

So, there’s work to be done for both the Yankees and the Mets to fine tune their rosters for championship aspirations. 

That’s a good thing. 

Two win now, first place NY Baseball teams. 

Who will be the next David Justice or Yoenis Cespedes to live in NY Trade Deadline lore? 

We’ll soon find out… 

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify/Apple Podcasts. 

You can watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight after Mets postgame on SNY.

Jastremski: First round flop for drama-filled Nets

On Monday, the Nets chaotic and disappointing 2021-2022 season came to a close with a major thud.

At the beginning of the year, the Nets were title favorites.

There was no possible way the Nets could be a 7 seed and get swept in the first round right?

Believe it.

In fact the Nets are the first preseason title favorite to be swept in the first round ever.

So, the preseason narrative would have suggested that there is no way the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets would be comparable teams.

After all, the Nets took down the Celtics in 5 games in the first round a season ago.

Well, the Nets and Celtics weren’t comparable teams this year.

The Celtics were flat out better.

The Celtics taking down Brooklyn shouldn’t surprise anyone who watched NBA Basketball over the last four months.

The Celtics played as a team, got better as the season went along and looked like a group that had cohesion and unity.

The Nets featured none of those qualities.

It’s tough to have cohesion when the so called “Big 3” of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden is broken up midseason.

It’s tough to have top notch team chemistry when Kyrie Irving missed almost all of your home games because of the vaccine mandate.

Plus the kicker, Ben Simmons the headliner in the midseason Harden blockbuster didn’t find his way into one Nets game this season.

You lay out that adversity plus the injury to sharp shooter Joe Harris and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Nets fell well short of their championship or bust goal.

The reality for the Nets franchise is simple going into this summer, the past three years haven’t been good enough.

If I told a Nets fan after the Durant/Irving signings in the summer of 2020 that their team wouldn’t have seen a title, an NBA Finals appearance or a Conference Final three years later, they wouldn’t have believed me.

The franchise and their two best players Durant and Irving have fallen short of very lofty expectations.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were outplayed by Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart in this series.

How was Brooklyn supposed to have a chance against this dangerous Celtics team when it’s two star players weren’t leading the way.

The Nets window is not fully closed, but it’s closing fast.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are not getting any younger.

Who knows what Ben Simmons will add if anything to the Nets next season?

Can Steve Nash lead the team as a championship caliber coach, for my money the jury is very much still out on that.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving can still write a happily ever after ending to this story, but they better start re-writing the script now.

Three years in, Nets fans haven’t gotten enough bang for their buck.

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday & Thursday plus my picks on The Ringer Gambling Show every Tuesday & Friday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also watch me nightly on SNY’s Geico Sportsnight.

Big Trade Deadline

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.

Two Deadline Approaches

In the days leading up to the July 31st MLB trade deadline, one would have figured the Yankees and Mets would be in the exact same position: buy and win at all costs.
That thought process in the preseason made perfect sense. After all, the Yankees and the Mets were supposed to be two legitimate World Series contenders.
Things have changed since the middle of March.
The Yankees have been the biggest disappointment in baseball. The Red Sox and Rays have surpassed them in the AL East, putting them at the point of no return as far as winning the division is concerned.
However, the second Wild Card puts the Yankees very much in the postseason conversation.
Despite all of their flaws and issues, the Yankees are only two games back in the loss column behind the Oakland A’s for the final postseason spot in the American League.
So how exactly do you handle the trade deadline?
The Yankees are not going to sell off assets considering they are within striking distance of the postseason, but considering their deficit in the AL East is it worth going all in on this 2021 team?
The Yankees should look to add to the roster, but the idea of making an all-in type of move in 2021 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
That said, the Yankees should think about adding to the roster, but with the mindset of trying to add for 2021 and beyond. Long-term moves make sense, short-sighted moves do not.
The Mets find themselves in a much different predicament.
They are in first-place in the NL East and could be a very dangerous postseason team.
It’s not to suggest the Mets should mortgage their future on one specific player, but their front office can think about the idea of making one move to potentially put the team over the top.
Is that player Kris Bryant or Max Scherzer? Uncertain, but if the Mets brass believes that one player can take the team to the next level, that is the move that should be made.
The Mets should be in a far more aggressive position come July 31 in comparison to the Yankees. The results in the standings are the ultimate proof.
This week should be about cautious buying for the Yankees and aggressive buying for the Mets.

You can listen to my podcast “New York, New York” on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify and Apple Podcasts every Monday, Wednesday & Friday morning.

Make or Break Time

It’s been well documented in this column and throughout town that the New York Yankees have been baseball’s disappointment in the first half of the 2021 season.
The Yankees issues are well documented.
They are too reliant on right-handed power and lack the athleticism and balance that is needed to field a championship team in 2021.
Despite their obvious flaws and issues, the Yankees have a pulse because of two reasons: a winning West Coast road trip and the fact that Major League Baseball has two Wild Card teams.
The Yankees are 4.5 games behind the Oakland A’s for the second Wild Card and eight games back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
Personally, I don’t see a viable path for the Yankees overcoming the deficit in the division. However, if you want to hold onto that dream, pay close attention over the next two-and-a-half weeks.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Yankees will play the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays eleven times before the month of August.
If the Yankees have any prayer of making the division race competitive, they have to play their best baseball of the season starting on Thursday.
The Yankees need a big second half if they’re to simply qualify for the postseason, because in the first half, they’ve were nowhere close to resembling a playoff team.
Think about three of their losses right before the All-Star break. In the soul-crushing losses the Yankees yucked up not one, not two, but three ninth-inning leads, including leads of four and five runs against the Angels and Astros, respectively.
To add insult to injury, the other loss was against the crosstown Mets.
It will be difficult to change the fabric of the Yankees lineup midseason, but it’s time to see if the team that was supposed to slug their way to the American League pennant can actually find a way to do exactly that.
There is no tomorrow, not just for Yankees manager Aaron Boone, but for this Yankee core as we know it. By the end of July, you’ll know as a fan if there will be an August or September worth fighting for.
Put up or shut up time indeed.

You can listen to my podcast “New York, New York” on The Ringer Podcast Network, which can be found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts every Monday, Wednesday & Friday morning.

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