New Faces in the Big Apple

Christopher Uglialoro, Writer

New York sports fans are known to be a diehard bunch, prepared to fight tooth and nail over their favorite teams. The Mets and Yankees supporters are no exception to this generalization. These fans can consistently be found comparing their ballclubs. Sometimes the debates are civil, although oftentimes they end in a nonsensical shouting match. Such discussions have ramped up with Major League Baseball’s season beginning weeks ago on March 30th. Pick up your head in CHS’s hallways, and you will notice numerous students sporting fashionable baseball caps and jerseys. Yet the annual controversy remains unanswered; which team, the Mets or the Yankees, is the true king of New York? 


Historically, the debate is more of a concession than a conversation. The Yankees flaunt a mighty 27 World Series wins, a much larger sum than the Mets’ two. However, as a biased Mets fan, I prefer to focus on the present. Which team is better set to earn themselves another World Series this season? Well, it may depend on the fresh faces in the clubhouse. Both teams are among the richest in baseball, allowing them to bring in many new players during the offseason. However, I intend to zero in on a few key additions that can help these two teams win yet another championship. Just over ten games into the season, the Mets’ and Yankees’ recruits have already begun impacting their team’s success. These athletes have made their way to NYC from the minor leagues, other teams, and even Japan! 

This season, the Mets brought prospects Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez from the minor league to the big show! Baty offers a powerful and patient bat within the Mets’ batting order, as well as a fresh glove at third base. Baty is set to replace the 34-year-old Eduardo Escobar as the Mets’ third baseman. Escobar has shown significant problems making contact with the ball, and the Mets will now look to Baty to fill the void. Ninety feet from Baty’s third base, Fransico Alvarez is geared up to become the Mets’ primary catcher. Alvarez was regarded as one of the minor league’s finest prospects, sporting an impressive .273 batting average and 60 home runs throughout his minor league career. Alvarez provides the Mets with another powerful bat in their order. His defensive play may become a liability for the Mets, as it is lacking in numerous areas. However, the Mets trust their coaching staff to further work with Alvarez on building this skill. 


Alongside these minor league stars, the Mets added two impressive pitchers to their rotation. Kodai Senga, who previously played in Japan, will join the Mets alongside the legendary Justin Verlander. Senga, 30, can make batters look silly with his patented pitch, the “ghost fork.” In his major league debut against the Marlins, he struck out a whopping 8 batters using the ghost fork pitch. Verlander, 40, is a proven veteran who has won two World Series and three Cy Young Awards. However, a shoulder strain will sideline Verlander until around the end of April. Mets fans and management can hope this injury will not create long-term issues for the forty-year-old superstar. When healthy, these two pitchers help to strengthen an already powerful pitching rotation. 


The Yankees did not shy away from making a splash this off-season. A shortstop with high expectations named Anthony Volpe is quickly becoming a star for the Yanks. Volpe, a native of Watchung, NJ, is a fan favorite of those in the Tri-State Area! The ball club drafted Volpe out of Delbarton High School back in 2019. He was pulled up from the minor leagues this offseason and began starting at shortstop for the Yankees. Volpe can provide the team with yet another reliable batter to complement the power bat of Aaron Judge. So far this season, Volpe has been lackluster at the plate, with a disappointing .191 batting average. However, almost every player struggles when they first face Major League pitching. In fact, Volpe has shown signs of progress recently, smashing his first ball out of the park on April 14th against the Minnesota Twins! 

This off-season, the Yankees also recruited star lefty pitcher Carlos Rodón to beef up their pitching rotation and complement their ace, Gerrit Cole. In 2022, Rodón pitched excellently for the San Francisco Giants. He finished the season with a 2.88 ERA and 237 strikeouts! However, Rodón’s career is one plagued with injury. Rodón has consistently suffered from elbow issues. In 2019, he underwent the dreaded Tommy John surgery to repair ligaments in his elbow. This season is starting out no different for Rodón. The pitcher has not yet suited up to start a game on the mound. Back issues look to keep Rodón out for at least another few weeks.


New York baseball teams have begun this season with incredibly high expectations. Although fans of the Mets and Yankees are infamous for claiming every season is “their year,” 2023 could be it for either. Anything but a World Series would disappoint these organizations and their supporters. Thus, a victory will only be possible if these squad’s new additions face their expectations and hit them out of the park. Unless, of course, they’re pitching the ball. In that case, let’s hope they keep the ball out of the stands!