By Ernie Palladino
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Yet another example of the chasm that exists between the Yankees and Mets occurred over the last few days.
The Mets, seeking some pop in their lineup, signed former All-Star outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million deal Friday.
The Yanks? Brian Cashman just happened to be in the market for a catcher who could hit a little. So he went out and plucked Brian McCann away from the Braves for a cool $100 million over six years, that final season counted as an option year for the Yanks. For those keeping score, that averages out to about $16.7 million per year for a team purportedly eager to hang in the $189 million total salary neighborhood to avoid baseball’s burdensome luxury tax.
So, to recap: The Mets, full of holes, with no discernable evidence of offense, find themselves a 30-year-old outfielder whose lone All-Star season came in 2010. Since then, he hasn’t done much of anything except provide the occasional homer. Believe it or not, that’s still more than the Mets have produced recently. But the point is, if Sandy Alderson was looking to make a splash, perhaps put a smile on a loyal fan base which has suffered through austerity budgets and bad baseball, Chris Young was not the way to do it.
The Yanks also have holes, including a big, pending gap at second base if Robinson Cano decides to leave town. They could have gotten by with their catching rotation of Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, and Austin Romine. Sure, they only hit a major-league low eight homers among them. But hitting and power is not a paramount for catchers in today’s game, anyway.
Still, with the possibility of losing Cano, the Yanks added a backstop who not only handles pitchers well, but can put the ball over the fence. The seven-time All-Star lefty has hit 20 homers in a season seven times, and undoubtedly will fall immediately in love with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right.
Young? He’s a career .235 hitter with 144 homers in part of eight seasons with the Diamondbacks and A’s. He sunk to .200 with 12 homers, 43 RBI, and 93 strikeouts last year in Oakland.
Big difference. When the Yanks jump into the talent pool, they generally cannonball in. The Mets dip their toe in the water, and wade in gingerly, trying not to get hit with the droplets other swimmers kick up.
Alderson doesn’t get all the blame for this. Just like the Yanks, he’s working under a budget, too. Only, that budget is supposedly 100 million sheckles less than the Yankees’. Even with the $43.6 million that came off the books from Johan Santana and Jason Bay, it seems Alderson is still under strict financial constraint despite the belt-tightening of the last three years.
Not all hope is lost for Alderson, however. Reports indicate he’s still after Curtis Granderson and Nelson Cruz, both of whom will come with a hefty (for the Mets) price tag. They met with shortstop Jhonny Peralta last week but were apparently scared off by his demands for a three-year, $45 million deal.
It’s relative. The Mets will spend in free agency, but only up to a point. And that point may land south of $30 million, and $7.25 million of that is already gone on a one-time All-Star who may well be washed up.
Cashman is also under financial constraint, just in a different area code. He goes out and gets a man revered in the Braves clubhouse for his leadership and his no-nonsense approach to showboating opponents. Then, he makes no secret of the fact that there is more to come — with or without Cano. Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Masahiro Tanaka, Stephen Drew; they’re all on the wish list. Remember, too, that aged but still powerful Alfonso Soriano was already under contract for 2014.
The Yanks splash, the Mets create ripples.
The Mets rebuild, bit by bit. The Yanks reload with high-caliber ammo.
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