- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2008

Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate a baseball issue. This week: Who’s in more trouble, the Yankees or the Mets?

MARK ZUCKERMAN: Honestly, I think they’re both in trouble right now. But if I had to choose one, I’ll say the Yankees. I know they always seem to bounce back just when you think they’re finished, and I doubt they’re going to remain at or under .500 for long.

 The difference this time around is that the AL East is significantly improved. The Red Sox are the best team in the AL, the Rays are legitimate for the first time and the Orioles and Blue Jays are hardly pushovers. It’s going to be tough for New York to overcome all that.

BEN GOESSLING: Let’s see: Big offseason acquisition showing signs of rust? Check. Clubhouse unrest? Yep. A manager already looking over his shoulder? Got that, too. Only one of these teams has all that, and it’s not the Yankees. The Mets were staking more of their hopes on Johan Santana than the Yankees were on any one piece of their puzzle, and we’re already hearing whispers he’s not the same pitcher he has been. He’s still effective, but you don’t pay $137.5 million for effective.

 And this isn’t a team that can take the “we’ve been through this” approach like the Yankees. They’re still shaking off the wounds from last year’s collapse, and it shows when Billy Wagner calls out his teammates for not being more accountable for their mistakes or when Willie Randolph is pointing fingers at anyone he can find.

MZ: Don’t get me wrong, the Mets have plenty of problems right now. I just think they have a better chance of getting back into the NL East race than the Yankees do of getting back into the AL East. They have all sorts of rotation issues. Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes, those supposed godsends, are 0-7 with an ERA in the 8s.

 And that supposedly unstoppable lineup — Jason Giambi? Old. Johnny Damon? Old. Bobby Abreu? Old. Derek Jeter? Getting there. To top it all off, unlike in past seasons, they don’t have Joe Torre serving as a calming influence in the dugout.

BG: I think we’re in agreement that neither one of these teams is in good shape. When you’re debating which manager is going to let things spin out of control first, you’re rearranging the furniture on the Titanic and picking out new silverware. The only difference for me is that we’ve seen the Yankees pull out of situations like this more often, but whichever side you take, you’re looking at two flawed teams in New York.