New York Giants: The Saquon Barkley Era Is Just Beginning

New York Giants running back, Saquon Barkley.

The season is done and over for the New York Giants, but the era of Saquon Barkley being a team leader is only just beginning. Barkley has been great all season, of course, but with this game, he enters the record books. It’s not as good as the team making the playoffs, but it’s still a positive accomplishment for a first season where Barkley entered the league to much debate.

But by now, it should be clear that the Giants didn’t lose value by drafting a running back with the second pick rather than a quarterback. Rather, they likely gained value by picking up Barkley, who finishes the season with the third most rushing yards for a rookie ever, while playing behind an offensive line that has been awful at worst and only serviceable at best.

Everything was working against Barkley this season, from the offensive line to the team’s 1-7 start, which could have easily taken away the motivation to perform in the second half of the season, and he still managed to break the 2,000 total yards from scrimmage mark. That’s better than any rookie running back from almost the last two decades.

Now that it’s all said and done, it can be said that the rise of Barkley is the best thing to happen to the Giants this season. It looks likely that Eli Manning will return for another year, but his run as the starting quarterback isn’t going to last forever. Odell Beckham Jr. has been great since he was drafted, but injuries in the past two seasons have left a mark on his recent statistics. Both issues were relevant for the Giants this year, but Barkley was a consistent bright spot.

“I don’t know, to be completely honest,” Barkley said after the Dallas game, on the subject of Manning’s fate last year. “The only thing I know is that he has a lot of ball left, that this team believes in him. Even though the season didn’t end up how we wanted it to, we were in a lot of games, we just have to finish those games. I really can’t answer that question, but all I have to say is I know Eli has a lot of ball left in him and I know we believe in him.”

But whether Manning returns as the starter next year isn’t the most relevant thing. The fact of the matter is that the Giants have found the centerpiece player for their offense. Barkley’s 1,307 yards on the ground placed him at number two in the rushing yards standings, and it’s a fair assumption that the number of yards will increase if the quality of the offensive line increases during the offseason. Additionally, experience makes a big difference, and Barkley will have more of it going into next year.

If there’s one point to take away from 2018, it’s this one. The Giants might draft a quarterback, or they might not. But regardless of their decision, they already have a piece to build around going forward, both in this offseason and in future years. That’s more than most teams drafting this high up can say, and while the NFL is a quarterback’s league, having a great running back will make the job easier on any quarterback who starts in 2019… Whether that’s Manning, or anyone else.

New York Yankees Can Utilize Top Pitching Prospect In 2019

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga

Making your MLB debut for the New York Yankees at the ripe age of 22 usually poses a few complications. Confidence and trust can likely be included, and there is no doubt the pre-game jitters take a toll on your psyche.

For top pitching prospect Jonathan Loaisiga, he endured those complications. The once outcasted San Francisco Giant has found his way to the Yankees’ farm-system. Before coming to New York, he had recorded a single start since 2015.

He famously became a danger to the Single-A and Double-A leagues with the Bombers, recording an ERA of 2.89 with 67 strikeouts and eight walks in 56 innings. The Yankees called upon the right-hander straight from Double-A, not even allowing him time to grow into the next level. They thought he was ready, and while his control was questionable, he showed great velocity and a nasty curveball.

The young pitcher made a case for himself as a potential impact player in the league. Now, the question is:

Will the Yankees utilize Jonathan Loaisiga in 2019?

The Yankees recently traded for oft-injured pitcher James Paxton and retained J.A. Happ. The rotation now looks something like this — Happ, Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia. With injuries an ever apparent caution sign, the Yanks have some solid youth depth that could play a part next season – one of which could be Loaisiga.

In 24.2 inning pitched last season, Jonathan earned a 5.11 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 12 walks. He allowed three homers and 27 hits, which averages more than a hit per inning against the 22-year-old.

The numbers don’t look all that attractive regarding Loaisiga’s limited sample size, but next season could be the perfect opportunity for him to continue developing. The Yankees will have a solid batting order that can provide run-support, and instilling their confidence in him could be just what the needs to unleash his potential.

 

 

Will New York Yankees’ Gary Sanchez Bounce Back From A Terrible 2018?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino

When looking back at New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez’s 2018 stats, you might want to close your eyes – that’s how putrid they are.

A batting average of .186 and 18 passed balls writes the story for Sanchez on both sides of the ball. His batting was atrocious, as he was often slotted in at the No. 5 spot behind Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees tried to utilize their sluggers consecutively, with Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Stanton, and Sanchez batting in order. While some might not call Didi a slugger, he managed to pull 27 homers last season, the most in his seven-year career and an all-time high for the Yankees at shortstop.

How can Gary Sanchez bounce back for the New York Yankees?

It all comes down to plate discipline and confidence for El Gary. He did have the injury excuse in play, as he had shoulder surgery during the 2017 offseason. Instilling confidence in the young catcher is essential, and GM Brian Cashman did just that with these words:

“It would be hard not to have Gary Sanchez as our catcher,” Cashman said during the winter meetings. “He’s certainly someone who we’ve invested in and believe in and expect to be a part of this place moving forward.”

Reports of the Yankees being involved with talks involving J.T. Realmuto clearly were false, as Cashman made it apparent that Sanchez still had a place in New York.

In addition to his shoulder surgery, Sanchez also suffered two groin ailments that limited him to just 76 games last season. Groin issues can be very troublesome for catchers, as it’s an essential muscle that’s needed to shuffle quickly. This undoubtedly played a role in his struggles stopping balls in the dirt, where he ranked last in the league among catchers with 18 passed balls.

With a few months of recovery, I expect to see Sanchez return to his former self. The player that hit .278 in 2017 and allowed 16 passed balls in over 100 games behind the plate. He’s far more talented than what we saw during the most recent campaign, and to be fair, the Yankees might have a far better shot at a deep playoff push when Sanchez is playing at his best.

New York Giants Vs. Dallas Cowboys Post-Game Analysis – What Now?

The New York Giants hosted the Dallas Cowboys for the final game of the season. The Giants came into the game with a 5-10 record, already eliminated from the playoffs. The Cowboys arrived with a 9-6 record, already clinched a playoff spot. With a loss today, the Giants fall to 5-11 while the Cowboys move to 10-6.

Up And Down Offense:

Overall, the Giants’ offense played a great game. They totaled 35-points and got big games out of Barkley and Engram. However, quarterback Eli Manning did turn the ball over twice and the team was unable to move the ball on the final possession of the game.

Saquon Barkley had a record setting day. Barkley had 142 total yards today (109 on the ground, 33 through the air), which put him over 2,000 yards on the season. That made Barkley the third running back in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards in their rookie season, joining elite company.

In addition, Barkley had three receptions today which helped him set the record for the most receptions by a rookie running back in NFL history. Barkley finished the season with 90 receptions, surpassing the previous record of 88 held by Reggie Bush. Barkley had a rushing touchdown today, his eleventh on the season. That set a Giants franchise record for most rushing touchdowns in a rookie’s season.

Quarterback Eli Manning had a slow start to the game. He threw a red zone interception on the Giants’ first drive, the followed that up with a lost fumble on the next drive. After that, Manning responded well with 301 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. One was to wide receiver Cody Latimer, who hauled in Eli’s perfect pass with one hand for a touchdown. The other was a throw to the flat that Engram turned upfield and dove into the end zone with.

Lousy Defense:

The Giants’ offense was able to put up a big 35 points on Sunday, but the defense let up a whopping 36 points. Edge rusher Olivier Vernon had a big game with 2.5 sacks, but there is only so much one player can do. The Giants’ secondary got picked apart throughout the game.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 387 yards and 4 passing touchdowns with zero interceptions on the day. Tight end Blake Jarwin had a field day against the Giants with 119 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants defense had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter, up 7 with the Cowboys looking at a fourth and fifteen. Unfortunately, the Giants were not able to make the stop. Dak Prescott connected with wide receiver Cole Beasley for the touchdown on fourth and fifteen. The Cowboys then converted the two point attempt to put the team on top 36-35.

Aftermath Of The Loss:

With this loss, the Giants are locked into a top eight pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. They currently hold the sixth pick and have room for improvement. If the Raiders win this week, the Giants can move all the way up to the fourth pick. This can come as a huge silver lining to Giants fans who are already looking ahead to the offseason.

Can The New York Yankees Trust Luis Severino As Their Ace In 2019?

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees re-signed starting pitcher J.A. Happ to be their ace in 2019, but Luis Severino could bounce back in a big way after a lackluster second-half to the 2018 season.

Severino finished the year with a 3.39 ERA, allowing 19 home runs and striking out 46 batters. The first half of the season for the Yankees youth product was fantastic, but he fell off after the All-Star break. Reports have indicated that the Yankees were “absolutely convinced” Severino was tipping his pitches.

How did they know?

In game 3 of the ALDS, Luis started the game, allowing six runs and seven hits in 3-plus innings. The cameras caught Red Sox players predicting his pitches regularly.

This is purely a fundamental lapse – something that Severino can correct for the future.

Before the All-Star break, he earned an ERA of 2.31 and went 14-2. After, he went 5-6 with a 5.57 ERA. Those number differentials are significant, and it has to indicate a consistent mistake that teams began to notice. I would expect the Yankees to work on hiding hid pitches a bit better and changing his pre-pitch action.

You could raise the argument of a potential injury affecting his velocity, but FanGraphs proves otherwise. On opening day, Severino threw his fastball 97.9 mph, and in his final regular-season start he threw 97.3 mph. This would prove that he was healthy and not fighting through a hidden ailment.

It seems as if the Yankees simply didn’t catch the trend of Sevy tipping his pitches, which is unacceptable. They need to be more aware of his tendencies and provide him with the support he needs to operate at a premier level.

Moving forward, I expect the pitching coaches to focus on hiding his pitches and extracting the most value form Severino. It’s very possible he returns next season in full-form and has a more consistent season.

 

 

 

 

New York Giants: Saying Goodbye To The 2018 Season

You can take a deep breath now, because the 2018 New York Giants’ season ends today. It wasn’t the season that anyone was hoping for following the draft, but it was perhaps inevitable as the Giants entered the season with a revised roster that was still in the process of being rebuilt.

Soon, the focus will turn to the offseason and how the team should best finish that rebuild, which started with both the head coach and general manager being fired. Before that happens, however, it’s worth taking a look back at some observations from this year. Each of the three things listed below are themes that defined the 2018 season, and could carry over into next year.

Gettleman could be the man, Shurmur might not be

The Giants hired Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur during the same offseason as their general manager and head coach respectively, but one of those two has done better than the other in terms of performance so far. Gettleman had a role in bringing Saquon Barkley to the Giants during the 2018 Draft, and has made other smart decisions so far like drafting Will Hernandez with the Giants’ second pick and signing Jamon Brown in the middle of the season.

Some of Gettleman’s less glamorous signings, such as B.W. Webb and Grant Haley, have also panned out and benefited the team. But just having a good roster isn’t enough to win in the NFL. You also need good coaching, and it’s safe to say that the Giants were not one of the better teams when it came to coaching this year.

It was a mediocre first year for Pat Shurmur, and that’s being a bit generous. Shurmur has been praised for coaching offenses, but hasn’t made the most of an offense that has Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, and other weapons such as Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram.

It’s a bit early to advocate for firing a coach, but if next season continues down the path, it will be easy to start thinking that maybe Shurmur isn’t the right guy to coach the roster that Gettleman has assembled.

The quarterback problem

One of the running themes through the season was the quarterback position. Eli Manning took a fair share of the blame for the team’s 1-7 start, but the second half of the season saw an improvement in results and things calmed down a bit. There’s not as many people calling for Manning’s head at the moment, but there’s still uncertainty going into the offseason.

Manning is playing at an acceptable level right now but even optimistic fans have to admit that it doesn’t look like Manning has years left in his career. The Giants eventually will have to find a replacement quarterback, and this year’s free agency doesn’t have a lot of options. Nick Foles might have won a Super Bowl, but there’s few that would likely be happy with him as the Giants’ starting quarterback, after all.

If the Giants look to the draft, they have another problem. Getting hot in the later part of the season pushed the team down the draft order, and now, there’s a chance that the top quarterbacks will already be selected by the time the Giants make their pick. It wouldn’t be a good idea to take someone at the position just for the sake of drafting a quarterback, and Justin Herbert deciding to stay in school means that the quarterback needy teams in the top ten are competing for a smaller number of players.

This position was something that was talked about all season, and it will continue to be a point of discussion going into the offseason and the NFL Draft. It’s also the problem that can be resolved least easily.

A fanbase divided

One of the easiest things to notice about this season is that it hasn’t been easy on Giants fans. The team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2016, and as a storied franchise located in a passionate sports city, fans expect better. They especially expect better than lackluster seasons where playoff hopes are a longshot by the time the season is halfway over. So you can’t really blame everyone for being frustrated.

Still, there were points during 2018 when it would have been nice for everyone to remember that we’re all on the same team. You aren’t a mindless hater for saying that the Giants should move on from Eli Manning, and you aren’t a fanboy for believing that he has another couple of years in him. You aren’t a fake fan if you ripped on the team for their early season performances, just like you aren’t a clueless optimist if you believed that they could turn their results around and get into the playoffs. Even if you might get that impression from interactions on social media.

It’s natural for a large fanbase to be divided, especially during a time like this, where the team is underperforming compared to the expectations set out at the beginning of the year. But as we leave 2018 and head into 2019, it will be much easier to get through the 2019 offseason without attacking each other over differences of opinion and remembering that, in the end, we all want the same thing for the team.

New York Yankees: How Manny Machado Would Shake Up The Infield

With reports indicating that the New York Yankees will sign superstar free agent Manny Machado early in the New Year, it’s justified to take a look at how the infield will be impacted and who might be moved around.

Right off the bat, we can make the assumption that Machado will fill in at shortstop while Didi Gregorius heals from Tommy John surgery. The former Oriole and Dodgers third-baseman is naturally a SS, which presents the Yankees will an intriguing opportunity to allow their youth to develop but to also utilize Machado to the best of his abilities.

Miguel Andujar being at third-base will surely put a question mark on his future, especially if the Yankees are keen on Machado moving to the position he played in 2018. Otherwise, he could become the everyday SS and remain there after Didi becomes a free agent next winter.

My question is: What would the Yankees do with Andujar?

The second-year pro was a phenom at the plate last season, earning a .297 BA with 27 home runs and a .328 OBP. His productivity in the field was a bit different, as he recorded 15 errors at third-base. Machado is a two-time Gold Glove winner and will surely improve the defense in the infield, and it will ultimately come down to what position the Yankees want to upgrade the most.

Personally, I like the idea of Andujar remaining at third and developing his skills for a second-season at the professional level while Machado takes over at short. This would allow them to continue to factor in their youth star and retain him for the future. Rumors have bubbled to the surface that the Yankees are willing to part ways with Andujar if a starting pitcher is involved. That proposal would be the only one I would genuinely entertain.

What about Didi Gregorius?

The return of Didi will pose a few difficult decisions later in the year. Returning from a significant throwing arm surgery can have lingering effects, which could play a part in the Yanks parting with a clubhouse and fan favorite.

Who Should The New York Yankees’ Leadoff Hitter Be In 2019?

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees have a variety of different decisions they will need to make in 2019, one of which is – who will be the leadoff hitter?

Options include Brett Garnder, who led off in 107 games last season, or Aaron Hicks, who earned 31. Why would Hicks be a good option moving forward? Because he’s a switch hitter, and getting on base for the core of the order — Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and potentially Manny Machado — would allow the Yankees to be more efficient.

Additionally, it’s appropriate to factor in the No.2 hitter, which will undoubtedly be Judge, who recorded 108 games at the spot. He smacked 27 home runs in 2018, despite missing nearly 9 weeks with a fractured wrist. The difference in hitting a solo or two-run homer can ultimately come down to the on-base-percentage of the leadoff hitter in Judge’s case.

Hicks’ OBP was .366 while Gardner’s was .322 last season. This would indicate that Hicks get on base more often and therefore would make the better option to be the leadoff hitter. Another beneficial factor is that he’s a switch hitter, which will give him the advantage over opposing pitchers trying to expose the righty-favored Yankees lineup.

Who else could the New York Yankees use?

Another interesting option could be Clint Frazier, if they choose to utilize him in the starting lineup as an outfielder. He hit leadoff in just one game but had an OBP of .390 with New York in 2018. The sample size for his stats are small – 34 at-bats, yet he seems to attract a solid amount of walks – 5 walks in 34 at-bats. That’s a 15% walk-rate, which is another attractive number when talking about a leadoff hitter.

Gardner, who is arguably one of the most disciplined hitters I’ve ever seen, has had tremendous success making pitchers work and racking up a high pitch-count. Over a larger sample-size, Gardner earned 530 at-bats last season with 65 walks. That’s about a 12.5% walk-rate.

Another factor that must be mentioned is speed. Gardner has the ability to hit a little infield blooper and beat out the throw at third-base. He can also turn a single into a double, etc.

While Hicks offers a higher OBP and switch-hitting ability, I’m convinced Gardner will remain the primary leadoff hitter, with a sprinkle of Hicks. It’s possible manager Aaron Boone chooses to utilize the hot-hand on any given day.

Saquon Barkley Looking To Join Elite Company On Sunday

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants will face off in week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The 5-10 Giants will be playing already eliminated from the playoffs. The Cowboys will be playing with a playoff spot already clinched. Despite being eliminated, Giants fans do have something to look forward to: Saquon Barkley.

Record Chasing

Saquon Barkley has had a monster rookie season. He is a major candidate to win offensive rookie of the year. This season, Barkley has rushed the ball 244 time for 1,198 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. In addition, Saquon has totaled 87 receptions for 688 receiving yards and 4 receiving touchdowns. These numbers put Barkley in position to break two big records on Sunday.

The NFL record for the most receptions by a rookie running back in a season is held by Reggie Bush with 88 receptions. Barkley is one reception away from tying that record, but odds are he hauls in two or more receptions and breaks it.

If Saquon gains three receptions, he will tie Odell Beckham Jr.’s record for most receptions in a season by a rookie in the franchise’s history history.

Joining Elite Company

Saquon Barkley currently has 1,886 total yards from scrimmage. If he is able to gain 114 total yards on Sunday, Saquon will join elite company.

2,000 total yards from scrimmage would be a huge accomplishment for Barkley. He would be only the third rookie running back to total 2,000+ yards from scrimmage. The other two players who accomplished this are Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James.

Barkley is already one of the best backs in the NFL. The sky is the limit for the rookie. On Sunday he can prove that he has the chance to be one of the great running backs to ever play in the NFL. It all begins with a historic rookie season.

New York Yankees Flashback: The Infamous 2009 Offseason

New York Yankees, Yankees, CC Sabathia

With disappointment running through the New York Yankees clubhouse, front office, and fanbase, following a subpar 2008 season of missing the postseason for the first time since 1993, the Yankees had to make some big splashes in the offseason to contend in the 2009 season. Not to mention, the 2009 season would come with serious expectations, as they were opening the New Yankee Stadium across the street from the old one being torn down.

The very passionate Yankee fan base would be livid and most likely gunning for General Manager Brian Cashman’s and the rest of the front office heads if they didn’t go out and improve the team drastically and compete once again for postseason play. Cashman did announce at the start of the offseason, changes would sure be made.

George “The Boss” Steinbrenner stepped down as main decision maker at the start of the offseason as well, struggling with his health, as he passed control to his youngest son, Hal. The expectations were heavily placed on Hal as he would have a big test in bringing in the right pieces.

The first move the Yankees made to start improving the team was trading infielder Wilson Betemit to the White Sox and receiving Nick Swisher in return, a switch-hitting first baseman and outfielder who would add some more power into the lineup. At the time of this trade, most people around the Yankees, including the fan base and analysts, expected Swisher to go into the season as the starting first baseman.

But at the beginning of the new year, on January 6, 2009, the Yankees signed free agent Mark Teixeria to a massive 8-year, $180 million deal. “Tex” as he had been called by a lot of people around the league, was coming off a 2008 season in which he hit for a .308 average, drove in 121 runs, and hit 33 home runs, splitting time between the Braves and Angels. Teixeria filled the need they had a first base, and earlier in the offseason they also filled their starting pitching need as they signed both CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett to big contracts on December 18th. First base and the rotation were the Yankees biggest needs and they were able to fill them with the three biggest free agents offseason. Andy Pettitte was also resigned to a 1-year contract, to help make the Yankees rotation nearly unstoppable.

The Yankees offseason acquisitions ended up being huge keys to their path to winning their 27th World Series championship. CC Sabathia went 19-8 in the regular season with a 3.37 ERA, and went 3-1 in the Postseason, including winning both games he pitched in the American League Championship Series, leading him to winning the ALCS Most Valuable Player award. AJ Burnett pitched to a 13-9 record in the regular season, but struggled a bit in the postseason with a elevated 4.78 ERA. Burtnett was able to come up with a victory in Game 2 of the World Series over the Phillies.

The Yankees went with a three-man rotation in the postseason, and the Yankees other big pitching signing in the offseason, Andy Pettitte, was the third man. Pettitte had previous postseason success, pitching for the Yankees in their ‘96, ‘98, ‘99, and ‘00 World Series winning seasons. In the 2009 regular season, the member of “The Core Four” piled up 14 victories and 148 strikeouts. Pettitte was huge in the postseason, as he won all four games he pitched in, including two games in the World Series, leading the three-man staff and the team to a World Series victory in six games over Philadelphia. The Yankees other big offseason acquisition, Mark Teixeira, had a huge first season for the Yankees in the regular season and postseason.

He finished the regular season with 39 home runs, 122 RBIs, and a .292 batting average, as he was selected to the All-Star Game, won a gold glove and silver slugger, and finished 2nd in MVP voting to the Twins’ Joe Mauer. Teixeira came up clutch in the postseason, as he hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning of game two of the Division Series against the Twins, which sent Yankee Stadium into oblivion. Teixeira drove in eight runs in the postseason overall with two home runs. Nick Swisher, another offseason acquisition, bashed 29 home runs in the regular season, and was a big clubhouse presence, bringing his upbeat and funny personality to help bring the team up.

The Yankees 2009 offseason and 2019 offseason could end being very similar. The Yankees failed to meet high expectations in 2018, as they were a first-round exit, losing to the Red Sox in the ALDS. In the 2009 offseason, they went and signed the three biggest free agents in the market. This offseason, they have been involved with big-name free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, after already trading for pitcher James Paxton and resigning J.A. Happ, to help improve the rotation.

Could the Yankees go a similar route to 2009 and sign one or both big name free agents they have been attached to?

Machado and Harper have both stated they’d prefer the Yankees over other teams, with Machado saying if offers are close, he will pick the Yankees. The difference between this offseason and the 2009 offseason, is it seems as though the Yankees aren’t as willing to throw too much money or years at free agents as they were then. So it seems as though if they are to sign either one or both, it would be because they took a paycut to come to the Yankees. Only time will tell, so now all we do is wait.