How Mets have looked like team Yankees were supposed to be

How Mets have looked like team Yankees were supposed to be

Hollywood has played with the theme of identity switching quite often — whether Lily Tomlin morphed into Steve Martin in “All of Me” or Tom Hanks became “Big” or Nicolas Cage and John Travolta (spoiler alert) switched faces in “Face/Off.”

For two-plus weeks of this major league season, the New York baseball teams have gone all “Freaky Friday.” The Mets have taken on so many characteristics of what was anticipated for the Yankees — namely, winning a whole lot early.

We will see if the Mets’ 11-1 opening (through Friday) is indicative of where they are going, but here are a few ways they so far have emulated what we thought was coming for the 2018 Yankees:

1. Managing well: There was — at minimum — internal grumbling about soured relationships with Terry Collins and Joe Girardi and their players upon their firings last year.

Both New York squads talked better connectivity and collaboration upon enlisting Mickey Callaway and Aaron Boone. But the outside perception was Boone — a charmer with communication skills honed on TV — would more naturally get the inter-personal stuff right, while Callaway — a pitching coach by training — would be more of a wonk who helped the Mets keep their prized arms healthier and outfitted with better strategy.

Boone has received no public negatives to date about his dealings with the players. It has been Callaway, though, who has been a revelation, garnering such unexpected plaudits for his relationships and tactics.

Now, two items: 1. Often there is a honeymoon period early and a tendency by those in the ranks to laud the new guy in comparison to the old. I remember this even happened initially when Ray Handley replaced Bill Parcells. 2. We have not seen Callaway have to handle extended losing yet — and it is coming, because it comes even for great teams.

But, so far, Callaway’s directorial debut has been like Orson Welles’ — for those who need help, that was “Citizen Kane.”

2. What a relief: One area scouts in spring training pinpointed that worried them — beyond health — about the 2018 Mets was the bullpen. Conversely, questions were being asked if the Yankees had the best crew of relievers ever.

Won-lost record has been dismissed for individual pitchers in recent years because we have learned so much more what a pitcher can control and can’t. But I do think team relief won-lost has value. Starters are not lasting as long, putting more of the potential for a decision in the hands of bullpens. Won-lost for pens represents the ability to see who wins the late innings — which pens, for example, hold down the opposition in a tie game or allow their offenses to surge when behind by a run or two.

The Mets’ pen was 5-0 in the early going and the Yanks’ 1-4. The Mets also had a 1.57 ERA, as converted starters Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo have been valuable, and Jeurys Familia again has the feel of an elite closer. The Yankees’ pen had a 4.71 ERA — third worst in the AL — with Dellin Betances and Tommy Kahnle particularly raising concerns.

Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon NimmoPaul J. Bereswill

3. Outfield crowd: When the Yankees obtained Giancarlo Stanton, the wonder was how they were going to be able to distribute at-bats around their outfield with Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury, plus Clint Frazier poised in the wings.

But on Tuesday, the Yankees were adding Shane Robinson to both their 25- and 40-man rosters to replace Jace Peterson, with whom they had done the same, so depleted was their outfield.

On the same day, the Mets sent Brandon Nimmo to the minors because there just was not enough outfield at-bats for him despite hitting well when given the chance. Nimmo has subsequently been recalled, and the Yankees have gotten back closer to whole by being able to activate Hicks off the DL.

The Yanks still are getting strong work from their outfield, an .871 group OPS second in the majors to the Pirates. The Mets were fourth at .808, and that is with Yoenis Cespedes mainly struggling at the plate. The quicker-than-publicly-anticipated return of Michael Conforto has benefited the Mets.

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