A Grand Slam to start the 2012 MLB season by Joseph Wolkin, assistant sports editor

Baseball season has started and teams are lining up the headlines nationwide. Tickets are selling like peanuts and crackerjacks as fans continue to lineup at the gates of glory for their respective teams.

In the off-season, numerous teams such as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Detroit Tigers, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the newly renamed ‘Miami’ Marlins made strides to advance their team to the highest level. But the fan favorite teams in New York City, only minor changes were made within the winter months.

The New York Yankees:

With a General Manager who isn’t worried about spending too much money throughout the off-season, Brian Cashman stunned many Yankees fans. The team didn’t do much spending as they under achieved expectations.

The greatest loss to the team from the Bronx would have to be long time Catcher and fan favorite, Jorge Posada announced his retirement as the Yankees refused to retain the 20 year veteran.

“He was there for the team and made fans excited as he was a role model after being with the team for years,” said Junior David Seizenger.

Posada was a fan favorite in the Bronx, but the Catcher’s mitt will be in the helm of Russell Martin who came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Martin’s strong arm behind the plate is a duplicate of Posada’s as both proved their full capability and pure talent is with a space in the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, a likely last stand for the two.

“I think he will actually do better at the start of his tenure with the Yankees than Posada,” said Eighth grader Angelo Poulous.

Michael Pineda made his debut in the famous Pinstripes at the start of Spring Training. Pineda was traded to the Yankees from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Catcher, Jesus Montero, a highly respected prospect according to many scouts.

Seventh grader John Petillo said “I think he will do his best and try to have a normal baseball career and continue to increase his fan base,” in reaction to Michael Pineda being traded to the Yankees over the off-season.

Trading for Pineda was not the only move the Yankees made over the off-season. The Bombers traded away Pitcher A.J. Burnett with cash considerations to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Pitching prospect Diego Moreno and Out Fielder Exicardo Cayonestwo according to ESPN.com.

Once Burnett was relieved of his duties in New York, the Yankees took advantage of the situation. Former Phillies OF, Raul Ibanez signed on with the Yankees with a one year, $12.1 million deal. The multi-million dollar deal marks the 11th player on the 25-man roster with an annual salary of over five million dollars per season, not including incentives. The price seems ridiculous, but for the Yankees, it is nothing short of an average payroll, hoping to win their 29th World Series in the team’s history.

As expectations continue to grow, the players continue to age. This could be the final season where players such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mariano Rivera will produce like they are accustomed to.

The New York Mets:

It was an incredibly busy off-season for the New York Mets. Owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon appeared in court numerous times.

The Wilpon’s have to pay up to at least $83 million to help pay off the victims of the Bernie Madoff scandal, which the Wilpon’s were apart of, according to ESPN.com. SNY, the Television provider of most Mets games, bought four shares of the team to help pay off the debt.

Unfortunately for fans, the team was unable to resign All-Star Short Stop, Jose Reyes as he set off to join the Miami Marlins. The owners’ couldn’t sign key free agents like fans expected.

But, the Mets did make several key moves throughout the winter months.

The biggest change the Mets made is at the Center Field position. Angel Pagan is gone. After being traded to the San Francisco Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, the Mets will use Torres’ elusive bat speed as a way to revamp the lineup.

Frank Fransisco and Jon Rauch signed with the Mets over the off-season. The two Pitchers will have a key role in the bullpen throughout the year. Rauch will be the Closer for the Mets. Rauch has jumped around the majors over the past few years after stints with the Nationals, Diamondbacks, Twins, and Blue Jays.

It can be agreeable, according to many fans and reporters that the Mets will not do good this season. But, with the Starting Five Pitchers healthy, Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, and John Neise, the Mets can perform up to par against top notch teams.
 
“Johan can’t do everything, they need a solid number three Pitcher with a bigger bat,” said Junior Michael Laut who has been following the Mets since he was in elementary school
They also have an abundant amount of prospects, three of which are amongst the top 100 prospects according to MLB.com.

But, for the foreseeable future, the Mets have many doubts. Their starting lineup is mediocre at best.

Daniel Murphy is set to have a career year. Murphy was sidelined for the majority of the past two seasons. But coming into Spring Training, he looked like his old self. The now 2B can play multiple positions if need be. Sophomore Erica Cantelmi believes Murphy will do good this season, but he needs to work on his defense, such as many believe.

In 2008, when he was brought up to the major leagues, Murphy was originally an OF/1B, but now he has set his sights for 2B. Hopefully for Mets fans, he’ll do better than Luis Castillo did in his tenure in Flushing.

David Wright’s future in New York has been sceptical throughout the past few weeks. According to many sources, the Mets front office is looking to trade the third baseman who has two Gold Glove awards throughout his MLB service.

Wright can produce. The Mets have made numerous changes to their stadium, Citi Field, throughout the off-season. Besides adding more seats, they moved the fences closer to Home Plate.

The move should help Wright as well as teammate, Jason Bay. Both have struggled to hit Home Runs at Citi Field since its inception in 2009. Since that time, Wright and Bay have combined to hit only 71 HR’s, a low number who players who have hit 30 HR’s per season.

Freshman Simon Cho said “I don’t think it will help them because the defense will have less room in the Out Field.”

Momentum will play a major role for the Mets this season. The expansion of the Wild Card may mean a playoff spot for the Mets, but it won’t come easily as they could make several, key trades over the course of the season.

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