Monday, May 4, 2009


NEW YORK baseball fans are never satisfied. How could they be with the level of expectation in the Big Apple? 

When the Yankees and Mets are doing well, the phone-in shows on ESPN and WFAN are pretty quiet.
But when things are going badly, the switchboards are jammed.

Right now, the talk radio hosts are having a field day. And why not. After all, there are plenty of negative things to talk about.

Here are just a few of the topics:

A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez. Okay, so we’re all fed up with talk about performance-enhancing drugs but tipping pitchers, well that’s a whole new ball game.

CC Sabathia: The hefty lefty is 1-3 with a 4.85 ERA, begging the question, is he worth the $161 million the Yankees will pay him over the next seven years.

Ditto AJ Burnett: He’s making $82.5 million over the next five years yet he can’t hold a six-run lead against the Boston Red Sox and has an ERA of 5.90.

Mark Teixeira: Even allowing for the fact that’s he’s a notoriously slow starter, a batting average of .182 is horrendously bad for any player, let alone one who is costing $180 million over the next eight years.

Bad Ollie leaves Mets with massive hole to fill

Oliver Pérez: The Mets have invested $36 million in their left-hander over three years yet it’s anyone’s guess when we will see him again in the Majors after he gave up 28 hits and 24 runs in five starts for an ERA of 9.97.

Sean Green: The relief pitcher is being labeled the new Aaron Heilman after blowing two saves.

David Wright: He’s rapidly “earning” the same tag as A-Rod, namely that he can’t hit in the clutch.

Carlos Beltran: All the ability in the world, but a player with a soft center. Why can’t he play hard every day?

These are just a few of the subjects being debated by disgruntled fans, who don’t seem too impressed with the job done by either Joe Girardi or Jerry Manuel so far this season.

So which side of the city should be worrying the most? Probably the orange and blue rather than the pinstripes.

Coming off dreadful collapses in each of the last two seasons, the Mets – more than anyone – needed to get off to a fast start.

The trouble with baseball is that no sooner have you solved one problem than another appears.

Francisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz have shored up one end of the game but they’re not of much use if you can’t hand them a lead. 

And, with the notable exception of Johan Santana, the Mets’ starters have been anything but consistent so far. I’m sure John Maine and Mike Pelfrey will get it right sooner rather than later, but that still leaves them looking for two more starters.

Yanks manager still has complete faith in CC

Girardi remains 100 percent confident Sabathia will become the ace Yanks’ fans are craving. He’s probably right.

But compare his figures with those of Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals, another name linked with the Bronx Bombers during the winter.

Greinke, who signed a new three-year contract worth $38 million with the Royals in January, has a 5-0 record with an ERA of 0.50. Now that’s real value for money.

Given their pitching problems, Chien-Ming Wang’s complete loss of form, injuries to A-Rod, Xavier Nady and Brian Bruney, the failure of Brett Gardner and Cody Ransom to reproduce their spring training form, and a complete lack of reliability in the bullpen, Yankee fans should be ecstatic their team is 13-11.

Let’s not forget that this record includes 15-5, 10-2, 22-4 and 16-11 defeats, not to mention a three-game sweep in Boston.

The Yankees are fortunate to have a sixth pitcher in Phil Hughes and their batting lineup will look a lot deeper if and when A-Rod returns next week.

The bad news for the Yanks is that they’re competing in the toughest division in baseball, especially with the Toronto Blue Jays getting off to an 18-9 start.

Despite being well below .500, the Mets are only two-and-a-half games out of first place.

Of course, we’re little more than a month into the season. But it’s going to take a major turnaround in the fortunes of both clubs to stop those switchboard lights flashing.

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