BREAKING: New York Yankees Strike Deal With Zach Britton

New York Yankees, Zach Britton

The New York Yankees have retained relief pitcher Zach Britton on a three-year deal worth around $40 million.

Additional details:

The Yankees can exercise a fourth-year option in the second year of the deal, otherwise Britton can opt-out if they choose not to extend the pitcher.

The option would push the money to a minimum of $50 million. Britton was expected to be the focus of the Yankees after the Phillies signed David Robertson to be their supposed closer.

Britton finished 2018 with a 2.88 ERA, giving up 8 earned runs and 2 homers. He was a solid option in the bullpen and will get more work this season. He will remain in a rotation consisting of Dellin Batances, Aroldis Chapman, and potentially another signing.

Draft Wire Predicts New York Giants Will Draft Dwayne Haskins Jr.

One of the most distinct features of the early NFL offseason is the mock draft, and USA Today’s Draft Wire has already released their first four round mock of the offseason. The mock includes the predicted pick for the New York Giants, who after finishing the season with five wins, will have the number six overall selection in the draft.

Many within the fanbase believe that the Giants would do well to take a defensive lineman with their first selection, but if the Draft Wire mock is an accurate prediction, some of the better ones in this year’s class would have already been selected by the time the giants are on the clock.

The mock has the New York Jets taking Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen with the third overall pick, but realistically, Allen isn’t predicted to last until the sixth pick either way. However, they have the Raiders taking Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver at number four, and Oliver is a player that has been mocked to the Giants by other sources. There are other possible players on the defensive line that the Giants could select, but they would likely be taking a step down in quality.

Instead of a defensive lineman, this mock draft has the Giants taking Dwayne Haskins Jr., from Ohio State. Haskins, of course, was one of the top quarterbacks in the country during the college season and was one of the finalists for the Heisman trophy. In one season as the starter, he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns to only 8 interceptions, leading Ohio State to a Rose Bowl win in Urban Meyer’s final season as a head coach.

Those accomplishments, and his arm, make Haskins a more attractive option than others who started off ranked higher in the draft class, such as Will Grier or NC State’s Ryan Finley.

But Haskins hasn’t declared for the draft just yet and it’s possible that he won’t be an option at all once the event finally happens in April. With Haskins recently sending a cryptic Tweet that could indicate intentions to return to school, the Giants might just have to look elsewhere.

New York Yankees Embrace For Future Shortstop Reformation

The New York Yankees are headed towards murky water in regard to the shortstop position, as current starter Didi Gregorius is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will be a free agent in 2019. Healing completely from a throwing-arm injury as significant as the one he endured is tough, and it should play a part in the decision to either retain Gregorius or let him walk next winter.

The New York Yankees sign an insurance policy:

With the signing of Troy Tulowitzki providing a stop-gap at shortstop for the Yanks until the return of their every-day starter, it questions the longevity of the position and what they might do in the future.

Didi is a club-house and fan-favorite, bringing immense leadership to the team along with valuable defensive and offensive capabilities. If he can return to 100%, the Yankees would be smart to extend his contract and keep him around for the remainder of his prime.

In 2018, Gregorius had a slash of — .268/.335/.494 — a solid year all-around for a player that wasn’t known to be a power-hitter. He smacked 27 homer over the fence, setting a historical record for Yankee shortstops.

What might the future hold?

With Tulo on a one-year deal with the Bombers, it seems as if the future is a bit uncertain at shortstop. They could elect to re-sign either of the players, or both given they provide solid performances this season. The main priority should be their defense, as the Yankees’ infield was putrid last season. Retaining a defensive maestro will be essential moving forward, especially if they choose to leave Miguel Andujar at third-base and pass on superstar free agent Manny Machado.

An interesting idea:

The Yankees could theoretically utilize Andujar as a designated hitter this season and hold off until 2020 to place him at third-base again. Given Machado is signed, they could make him the everyday shortstop and hope Andujar sees defensive growth. This is a long-shot idea, but we’ve seen crazier scenarios.

 

Knicks Snap 8 Game Losing Streak at Los Angeles Lakers

The New York Knicks snap their 8-game losing streak in Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers 119-112.

There were notable injury concerns for both teams before the game started as the Lakers were playing without their top two scorers, Lebron James and Kyle Kuzma. On the other hand, the Knicks were still without Mitchell Robinson, their rookie center whose absence has created a visible void in New York’s interior defense.

This game was a must-win for the New York Knicks who were stumbling into a 3 game west coast road trip, nursing an NBA league-worst 8 game losing streak. The Knicks knew this win was essential because they were going into Los Angeles to face a Lakers team missing their top two scorers, who were 1-3, now 1-4, without King James this season. Trust me, nobody is more on “Team Tank” than me, but in that same breathe, it is important for the team to continue to develop and progress. A losing culture carries the risk of the coaching staff losing the locker room and the chemistry being deficient, which will negatively impact the future Knicks. This young team is desperate to not put their locker room in jeopardy while having their sites on the 2019 NBA Draft, Free Agency, and Kristaps Porzingis coming back.

Credit Given Where Deserved:

Enes Kanter deserves praise for his 4th quarter hustle and defense. Yes. You read that correctly. The disgruntled Center was making critical hustle plays to save the ball from out-of-bounds, was able to get to the free throw line when the Knicks offense was stagnant and tight in the 4th quarter, and was communicating on the pick and rolls and defended them well (Take that Devin Booker!).

Mario Hezonja, another player who seems to live in the dog-house of the Knicks fan base and Coach staff, was essential for the team in the 4th quarter logging in 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, and 1 assist, on 2-4 FG, 1-2 3PT, and 3-6FT in just 14 minutes. In Mario’s postgame on-court interview, Kanter ran on jumped on him in elation as Enes was running back to the locker room. Hezonja gave some short, but important, insight into the Knicks locker room alluding to the difference in chemistry when Kanter is energetic and happy like Enes was at the moment after the game, rather than how the disgruntled Center has been feeling (and expressing to the national media and social media).

Luke Kornet, Noah Vonleh, Kevin Knox, Damyean Dotson, and Emmanuel Mudiay continue to prove to the Knicks staff that they belong in New York’s future. Fresh off a December rookie of the month, rookie Kevin Knox continues to dominate 1st quarters but slows down considerably as the game continues. The rookie admitted that his game still needs to be developed, but Knox has a nose for basket and a full off-season program with strength and conditioning will improve his overall game and especially his defense going forward.

Not-So-Bright Spots:

-Allonzo Trier, unfortunately, has not looked like himself since coming back from his injury and has seemingly hit the “rookie wall” this season. However, there is no need to worry about Trier, as he will come back into form with some more gameplay and consistent lineups.

-Tim Hardaway Jr. put up 22 points but on 7 for 18 shooting, including 3-10 from three point land. The high volume, low percentage shots that Hardaway loves to take with 19 seconds left in the shot clock only hurt the Knicks. They stagnate the Knicks offense and create long turnovers and fast breaks for a poor transition-defensive team. Both Emmanuel Mudiay and Tim Hardaway are extremely hot and cold players (I refer to them as microwave players) that continue to put up volume shots for this young Knicks team.

-Another DNP-Coach’s Decision for Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas.

It is not difficult to understand why the Knicks have been inconsistent from game-to-game and even quarter-to-quarter. The February trade deadline is right around the corner and Head Coach David Fizdale still hasn’t set a rotation for the Knicks. This game was a perfect opportunity for young Frank Ntilikina to get a rhythm going against the Lakers swiss cheese defense, but the point guard unfortunately went down with an ankle strain and was seen in a boot after the game. That is terrible news for Frank and his development, but good news for Trey Burke who stepped up against the Lakers in his absence to elevate the Knicks to their first win since November 25th.

What’s Next?

There is some optimism surrounding the New York Knicks following the win in Los Angeles. Rookie Center Mitchell Robinson, who has been nursing an ankle sprain, may be finally getting back to the court next game at the Portland TrailBlazers on January 7th.  This will be a huge boost to the Knicks interior defense, but keep your eye on the addition to the rotation. Coach Fizdale has already admitted that it will be a demanding task to work in Robinson, Kanter, Vonleh, and Kornet into the lineup and keep them motivated.

The next two games for the New York Knicks: @ Portland TrailBlazers on Monday January 7th & @ Golden State on Tuesday January 8th, to conclude their 3-game West Coast Trip.

New York Yankees: Troy Tulowitzki Puts Miguel Andujar’s Future In Danger

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees are still very much in the race for superstar free agent Manny Machado’s contract, but the bottom line is that he will likely play third-base wherever he goes, despite an obvious need at shortstop in New York.

The Yankees recently signed Troy Tulowitzki as an insurance piece on a veteran minimum deal to help solidify the infield with the absence of Didi Gregorius.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman commented on the signing of Tulo and if it would influence the hunt for Machado:

“I can’t say what it would take us out of, but we’re going into this with a commitment level to try Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop.”

Personally, I think this is far more about the Yankees having a stop-gap until Didi returns and nothing more. Placing Machado at short would be ill-advised, simply because the Bombers already have a defensive maestro in Gregorius and need a massive upgrade at third-base — in terms of defensive production.

Does the signing of Tulo question the future of Miguel Andujar?

This is the question I’m asking myself…if the Yankees are clearly interested in Machado but are committed to Tulo, could Andujar get caught in the mix? His 15 errors in the infield last season was simply unacceptable, and the fact that he has never played a different position other than third limits his defensive value considerably.

Although he hit .279 on the year and showed potential that’s difficult to let go, I’m under the assumption that the Yankees might bite on an ace pitcher if a team with hitting needs comes knocking on the door. My argument for trading Andujar would be that his value is sky-high. He’s coming off an impressive rookie season with no long-term consistency. If teams are willing to give up starting pitching value for a player that hasn’t even had two good seasons, than you can justify his departure.

However, retaining home-grown youth is essential to the future success of the team, and keeping a young player that’s liked in the club-house and by the fan-base certainly helps that cause. Cashman will likely never let him go unless the deal being offered blows him away. This thought alone questions my confidence in the Yankees signing Machado.

EXTRA:

Cashman stated that he included Machado and his representation in the plan to sign Tulowitzki. If he’s to play third-base, things could get interesting in the next few weeks.

 

 

New York Yankees Focus In On Zach Britton As Relief Market Dwindles

New York Yankees, Zach Britton

Former New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on a two-year, $12 million deal this past week. They’re expected to utilize him as their primary closer, despite not having closed in his career.

New York Yankees lose out on one, can they secure another?

The Yankees losing out on Robertson might seem troublesome currently, but they have two more quality opportunities to sign another relief pitcher this offseason. Both Adamon Ottavino and Zach Britton remain available, with the latter being the more attractive.

The Phillies were publicly interested in Britton but grabbed Robertson for his potential and usage. Britton has been in discussions with the Bombers recently and is expected to be retained. With rumors of superstar Manny Machado coming to New York bubbling to the surface, Britton’s discussions with the Yankees have quieted.

Zach’s agent, Scott Boras, has held-out on a deal in search of a four-year agreement. It’s unlikely the Yankees offer a deal including more than two-years for a receiver. While Britton was fantastic and considered one of the league’s premier relievers up until 2016, the last two years has been less successful.

The lefty has only pitched in 78 pitches in the past two seasons. He’s boasted a solid 3.00 ERA in that time from but has diminished in strikeout and walk rate — 7.3 K/9, 4.5 BB/9). His statistics taking a dip might have been a result of an Achilles injury he was recovering from.

Despite his diminished statistics, Britton is a solid options coming out of the bullpen. The question is: Is he worth a four-year multi-million dollar deal?