New York City has been invaded by bugs…injury bugs, that is.
Both New York baseball teams have dealt with a rash of injuries this spring. For one, the injuries really don’t mean too much, but for the other, the injuries could be a huge detriment.
The Mets really weren’t expected to do much this season, even if the team were to be fully healthy. Johan Santana will now be out for the season with a re-tear of the anterior capsule in his left shoulder. David Wright and Daniel Murphy are recovering from intercostal injuries, but these injuries should not linger too long.
Even with a healthy Santana, it would have been difficult to compete in the NL East with the likes of the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
The Santana injury almost certainly means that Mets’ top prospect Zack Wheeler will be promoted to the big league club in late April or early May. The Mets not only want to ensure that Wheeler has enough seasoning, but the team also is trying to delay Wheeler’s free-agent clock by having him start the season in the minors.
But while panic really hasn’t ensued in the borough of Queens, the Bronx is shaking. The Yankees will start the season with $88 million on the disabled list in the form of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez.
At least to start the year, the Bronx Bombers will have a completely different identity. The name “Bombers” likely won’t apply, since the team will not be able to be as reliant on home runs.
The situation got so desperate that the Yankees traded with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for diminishing slugger Vernon Wells to start the season in left field. Wells is a shell of his former self, and even though the Angels are on the hook for the bulk of the financial value of the contract, Wells is signed for the next two years.
The Yankees will rely on role players such as Kevin Youkilis, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner to carry a significant portion of the load early in the season. Jeter is expected to return after only a few games, and of course the Yankees still have Robinson Cano and Ichiro Suzuki. But the lineup will be much different than last year’s team.
The Yankees have only missed the playoffs one time (2008) in the past 18 seasons. With their roster looking a bit shaky and the fact that they play in arguably the best division in baseball -- the AL East -- a division title is looking like a lengthy goal.
But the Yankees are still the Yankees. They’re not going to just fold on account of a few injuries, albeit major ones. General manager Brian Cashman has shown he’s not afraid to pull the trigger on a trade, like the recent one with Wells, in an attempt to improve the roster.
For example, if the Yankees hear that Teixeira will be out longer than anticipated, they may try to acquire a more permanent option at first base.
It really has been a domino effect this spring for both New York teams. Panic may be setting in more so for the Yanks, but at least they’re not the Mets.