It’s a painful question for Mets and Yankee fans alike — not to mention the staff and management at the China Club, who might have to give the Giambino a table closer to the kitchen. But Newsday’s Jim Baumbach cannot be swayed by mere sentiment, declaring “the Mets need Carlos Delgado to hit like his old self far more than the Yankees need Jason Giambi to”.

The Yankees can get by without Giambi hitting. They can hide him far down in their powerful order, maybe even as low as eight if his struggles continue. And no one will notice because you’re bound to get massive power numbers from A-Rod and Abreu, Matsui, Posada and Cano will drive their share of runners in. They’ll still score a ton.

But the Mets’ lineup becomes significantly weaker with Delgado scuffling. Basically, without Delgado, they’re down to two legit run producers in Wright and Beltran, and you’ve just got to hope Alou can stay healthy to give you 300 at-bats and Church continues on his current pace. That’s a whole lot of fingers crossed in that scenario.

If only Delgado can show enough to hit .275 with 30 doubles, 22 home runs and 90 RBIs – essentially his 2007 numbers with a higher average – the Mets become such a more formidable offensive team. Yet right now, after what we’ve seen so far, it’s easy to wonder whether Delgado can give half that. And the Mets have to be worried.

I share Baumbach’s concern and the only saving grace I can find in all of this is that Andruw Jones’ skills seem to be diminishing twice as fast as Delgado’s. Granted, that would be bigger consolation were Jones still in the NL East, but I’m loathe to write off a player with Delgado’s credentials after less than a month of play. It’s not as though the Mets have Adam Lind waiting in the wings or anything.