Yankees have veterans, could Mets use one named Bonds?

Updated: July 9, 2008

Rich Pilling/MLB Photos/Getty Images

Barry Bonds hit .276 with 28 homers last season with the Giants.

SHOULD METS MAKE ONE MORE HEADLINE?

With the All-Star break coming up, it's a perfect time to take a look at which teams have the best chance to turn around in the second half and make the playoffs. Let's take a look at the two New York teams and see if they are poised for a second-half run or if they are in trouble.

Start with the Mets, who have garnered more headlines this season than the Yankees, but for all the wrong reasons. This is a team that has the talent to not only win the National League East, but to run away with it. I believe the best way for this team to do that may be by making one more big headline this summer.

Sign Barry Bonds.

This is a move that would help this team in several different ways. First, this team is filled with quiet guys who have to deal with the circus that comes with playing in New York. The signing of Bonds would put all that pressure on him and allow the rest of this team to just play ball the rest of the season. Second, this gives the Mets not the most potent offense in only the National League, but in all of baseball. The Mets could trot out a lineup that started like this: Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo/Damion Easley, Carlos Beltran, Bonds, David Wright and Carlos Delgado. In the later innings, they could pull Bonds for Endy Chavez, a better defensive outfielder who could also help rest Bonds' knees.

All of a sudden the Mets would go from a solid team that has the ability to contend to a team that is the favorite to win the NL and possibly the World Series.

The Yankees, meanwhile, trail both the Rays and Red Sox in the American League East. The Yankees probably shouldn't make the playoffs because of the myriad of injuries and the lack of quality starting pitching, but I believe the veteran core of this team (Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and, of course, The Captain, Derek Jeter) still has the ability to turn it on down the stretch. They will get better in the rotation with the return of Chien-Ming Wang. Adding youth to the lineup in rookie Brett Gardner should be enough of a boost in the dog days to make this happen.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: July 8 | July 7 | July 6 | July 3 | July 2 | July 1

OFFENSE RETURNS

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The Mets are finally hitting their stride. They've won a season-high five straight, recording back-to-back shutouts against the Giants on Tuesday and Wednesday. Though the pitching has been the story in this series, the primary reason for the surge has been the offense.

Not surprisingly, Jose Reyes has been a catalyst. He's hitting .375 in this nine-game stretch in which the Mets have won seven times. They are also getting contributions from Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and David Wright. There are still some holes to fill in the outfield, but management won't be shy about trying to make improvements, so long as the Mets continue to play at this level.

Turning it around
Mets June July
W-L 13-15 7-2
BA .254 .326
SLG .378 .478
Runs per game 4.3 6.9
HR 24 9
Reyes' BA .305 .375

FORWARD THINKING: THURSDAY

Braden Looper • Cardinals at Phillies, 1:05 p.m. ET: Braden Looper (9-6, 4.16 ERA) has a respectable record and ERA, but the numbers suggest he has been fortunate so far. Opponents are hitting .284 against him this season, the highest for any pitcher in the NL with at least nine wins. Jamie Moyer (7-6, 4.12 ERA) is 0-3 over his past four starts, though his ERA has remained the same over that stretch.

Mike Mussina • Yankees at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET: Interleague makes one final appearance for this makeup game. Mike Mussina (11-6, 3.64 ERA) is 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA on the road this season. Paul Maholm (5-5, 4.05) is 3-0 over his past eight starts. His ERA has dropped from 5.11 over that stretch.

John Lackey • Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET: John Lackey (6-2, 1.93 ERA) had his five-game winning streak snapped his last time out. Lefties are hitting just .180 against him this season. Scott Feldman (3-3, 4.39 ERA) has won his past two starts despite walking seven against just three strikeouts.

Complete list of pitching probables for Thursday's games


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BBTN ON THE AIR: THURSDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Chris Singleton, Tim Kurkjian
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Chris Singleton, Tim Kurkjian

BBTN MINUTE: RAYS, TWINS COOLING OFF

BATS REMAIN A PROBLEM

It's an issue that's been brought to light this season, and it's something that's not going away unless MLB and the players' union can come to an agreement: I'm talking about the growing number of broken bats you see on a daily basis at ballparks.

The problem is two-fold:

1. Thirty years ago, all bats were made from ash. Today, more and more players are using maple bats. Maple doesn't have any grain, which means when the bat breaks, it breaks in two pieces. Ash bats used to splinter and crack, but they didn't explode like maple bats do.

2. Bat barrels are bigger and the handles are thinner. The average bat today is 34 inches long, 31 ounces. They use to be 33 ounces as recently as 15 years ago.

What's the answer?

Everything in baseball is regulated, from the uniforms to the baseballs to the gloves. So why not the bats? The weight and the length of the bats should be closer together; 34-31 is too far apart. I do think change will eventually happen, but I don't expect it this year. Stadiums are being built with seats that are closer to the field, and there is little foul territory in these new stadiums. Protecting fans from a foul ball in the stands is one thing, but when a broken bat is flying, it's much more difficult to get out of the way.

Something needs to be resolved before another coach, player, umpire or fan gets hurt.

WEDNESDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Carlos ZambranoCarlos Zambrano allowed one hit -- a second-inning solo shot to Adam Dunn -- over eight innings. Zambrano retired the final 20 hitters he faced in the 5-1 win.
BAD
Livan HernandezLivan Hernandez was hit hard -- again. The Twins' righty gave up 11 hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss against the Red Sox.
UGLY
Brian Bass• Hernandez didn't have the worst performance in that game -- Brian Bass did, permitting six hits and five runs in 1 1/3 innings in Minnesota's 18-5 loss.

"TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME"

Ballgame It's the 100th anniversary of baseball's most famous tune, and "Baseball Tonight" has asked nine popular musical artists to record a rendition of the song to be used in a battle of the bands. The field has been trimmed to three. Take a listen and vote on your favorite one. The winner will be announced on July 13.

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF THURSDAY'S GAMES

Will Harris examines the pitching matchups for the 13 games on Thursday's schedule of games.

Fantasy Harris also looks at injuries and details player reports that could help shape your roster for Thursday's games. Daily Notes

NEWS AND NOTES

Mariano RiveraMariano Rivera pitched two innings in the Yankees' 2-1, 10-inning win against the Rays. It was the second consecutive outing in which Rivera went two innings. Rivera had not gone two innings back-to-back since 2006.

Dustin McGowan• Toronto reliever Dustin McGowan has a torn rotator cuff and will miss at least four weeks. McGowan is 6-7 with a 4.37 ERA this season.