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Signing Former Yankees Doesn’t Make You the Yankees

Dellin Betances pitches for the New York Mets during Spring Training in 2021.

The Mets must be themselves to be a successful team instead of thinking that signing former Yankees will bring them a title.

It’s official. SP Luis Severino signed with the New York Mets on a one-year deal worth $13 million. Severino is one of many former Yankees players to come play for the cross-town team in Queens. If he plays in 2024, he will become the 156th player to play for both teams. Since 2014 with the signing of OF Curtis Granderson, it seems the Mets have been keen on signing not only players but also coaches and managers who were with the Bronx Bombers as if it guarantees a championship. This is a recipe that will hurt the Mets more than the Yankees. The Mets need to focus on growth on their end instead of another team.

Too Many for Too Little

Being the only two teams in a city like New York makes options limited. You don’t share the territory. You have to fight for your claim to be the top dog in town. The Mets have been trying painstakingly hard since losing the World Series in 2015 to the Kansas City Royals. For the past eight years, feeling more like a decade, they haven’t been able to get over the hump. Outside Granderson, the Mets have had twenty-three players who played for the Yankees before the Mets. Most notably were SP Bartolo Colon, RP Dellin Betances, 2B Robinson Cano, 3B Todd Frazier, SP Rich Hill, 3B Eduardo Nunez, RP Adam Ottavino, RP David Robertson, C Gary Sanchez, RP Chasen Shreve, RP Stephen Tarpley, and OF Mason Williams.

Colon is the only one from this list who helped lead the team along with Granderson to the 2015 World Series and brought many happy memories for his antics. Both Ottavino and Robertson were key pieces in 2023 intended to lead this team to a championship. But we all know how everything fell apart. Robertson was traded to the Marlins and Ottavino became a free agent after the season.

Highly-touted prospects like Gary Sanchez and Dellin Betances were at one point on top of the world. Sanchez became the fastest catcher to reach one hundred home runs in 2019 following his record-setting 2016 season. His numbers and performance dropped due to injuries late during his Yankee tenure and barely did anything with the Mets in 2023. He went 1-for-6 in three games with an RBI before being DFA’d on May 25. He had better numbers with the Syracuse Mets in eight games, hitting .308 with one home run and five RBIs.

Betances was no better. In 2020, he pitched in fifteen games, earning a 7.71 ERA in just 11.2 innings with eleven strikeouts. In April 2021, he was shut down due to a second right shoulder impingement, his first since 2019 which shut him down for the majority of the season. He only pitched in one inning on April 7. Betances retired after spending time in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system where he didn’t do any better. Betances was one of the best pitchers in the game, becoming the first relief pitcher in MLB history to strike out one hundred or more in five straight seasons. He never found himself after that lost 2019 season. The Mets should have seen that for both players.

Nunuez, Shreve, Hill, Tarpley, and Williams all played for one season, barely making a mark. Frazier was good, but the team wasn’t for his three years of service. Cano? Let’s not go there. In short, bringing aboard former Yankees has not helped.

Tied to History

Signing former Yankees has been a part of the Mets from the very beginning. Casey Stengel, the first manager in team history, served from 1962-1965 and was the first spokesperson and mascot for the team. Other managers have included Yogi Berra, Dallas Green, and Buck Showalter.

Carlos Mendoza is the latest addition of former Yankees hired by the Mets as manager. Mendoza’s ties to the Yankees organization go back for almost a decade. He played in the Yankee farm system for the majority of his thirteen years in the minor leagues. From 2009-2017 he managed and coached various teams in their farm system. From 2018-2023 he served under Manager Aaron Boone as the Quality Control/Infield coach from 2018-2019, Bench/Infield from 2020-2021, and as the main bench coach from 2022-2023, serving alongside Luis Rojas, who joined the Yankees as the third base coach after he was fired as the Mets manager following two losing seasons in 2020 and 2021.

Most Mets fans didn’t know who Mendoza was before coming to the team. He has experience in the minor leagues but at the major league level, it remains to be seen if he can bring the change the Mets need. Mickey Callaway, who managed the Mets from 2018 to 2019, was a disaster despite his great first impression with the New York media and the fawning they did all over him. If Mendoza fails in 2024, it will make firing Showalter with one year left on his contract a big mistake and a repeat of the Callaway disaster.

Coaches Too are Former Yankees

Since 2014, a total of eleven coaches either played or coached for the Yankees before joining the Mets. This includes Bob Geren, Ricky Bones, Kevin Long, Glenn Sherlock, Dave Eiland, Tom Slater (minor leagues), Chili Davis, Hensley Meulen, Tony Tarasco, Eric Chavez, Eric Hinske, Antoan Richardson, and José Rosado (minor leagues). Richardson and Rosado are the new coaches for 2024. It will be interesting to see what the new coaches will bring. For the past couple of years, the Mets have kept changing coaches. If a team keeps changing the coaches and managers, it’s a sign that things are going poorly. And they are.

Next Moves

The Winter Meetings have concluded, and the Mets are making their attempt to sign SP/DH Shohei Ohtani and/or SP Yoshinobu Yamamoto. With Yamamoto, Steve Cohen and David Stearns flew to Japan to meet with him. If they can’t get Ohtani, Yamamoto will still be better than nothing. SP Kodai Senga is still on the team and is a key piece of the team that the Mets aren’t going to depart with. A double feature with Senga and Yamamoto will be very cool, but the team needs results. The Mets need something of their own, whether in a trade, free agent, current high-profile minor leaguers, or the draft. Signing more former Yankees to minor league deals or one-year contracts is not going to cut it.

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