New York Giants: Playoffs Are Needed To Maintain Prestige

New York Giants enter MetLife stadium

The NFL playoffs are here once again. This Saturday, the teams in the divisional round will take the field and will have a chance to move one step closer to the Super Bowl. Two teams from the NFC East, the Eagles and the Cowboys, will have games during this round. One team that you won’t see, however, is the New York Giants.

It can be easy to focus on the present, but sometimes it’s important to look at the big picture. That big picture doesn’t paint a great picture of the Giants as a franchise since their last Super Bowl win. Since winning it all in 2011, the team has only made the playoffs in one of the last seven seasons.

During that one season, the Giants lost to the Packers in a one-sided game where they never truly seemed like they were competitive against a team led by a hot Aaron Rodgers.

The point here isn’t to be negative, but realistic. If the Giants want to maintain the prestige around the franchise, which helps in attracting big name free agents, they need to make the playoffs. Additionally, making the playoffs would go far in reducing fan apathy. This season, for example, the tone quickly turned from positive to negative and then to apathetic in a way, as the season went along and it became clear that the Giants weren’t getting in.

Worst teams have made it into the playoffs multiple times during the Giants’ dry run. The Colts play on Saturday and this will be their fourth trip in a seven-year span. Their opponent, the Chiefs, are on their fifth trip during the same span. The Rams, on the other hand, have only been back in Los Angeles for three years and are on their second playoff appearance since returning.

All of those teams have had more success in getting into the playoffs, despite not having the brand that the Giants do. But which team are free agents going to want to play for, if they want to win now? Teams like the Chiefs or the Rams, who have less past success than the Giants but have come closer in recent years to making a Super Bowl? Or a team like the Giants that has great history but few trips to the playoffs after 2012 as well as an abysmal last two seasons?

This offseason, the Giants should be thinking about winning now rather than going into a long rebuild that could see more established players, such as Landon Collins, leave to free up cap space. There’s already been too many years lately where the team has been on the outside looking in once the playoffs roll around. After back to back seasons where the Giants were one of the worst teams in the league, neither the fanbase nor the franchise’s reputation needs another one.

Could The New York Giants Go After The Other Philadelphia Quarterback?

Even though I’m a New York Giants fan, I want Nick Foles and the Eagles to beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.  A lot of Giants fans will probably think I’m crazy, but here’s why:

If Foles can pull off another unbelievable run like last season, the Eagles will then have to decide which quarterback will be their guy going forward.  The Eagles front office and head coach will have to choose Foles or Carson Wentz.

Say Foles beats the Saints, you’d have to consider making him the guy, not Wentz. In Week 11, when Wentz was at the helm, the Saints trounced the Eagles. Foles might be able to prove that this Eagles team is better with him under center.

If the Eagles can upset the Saints, it brings up an interesting question – should they consider trading Wentz?

The Giants could be interested in the second-year quarterback, simply because he’s of quality and is capable of leading a team with ease. Injuries have derailed him early on in his career but there’s still value to be had. Finding a way to keep him healthy and upright is the trick.

What would the Eagles asking price for Wentz be? Given the fact that they used a top three pick on the young signal caller, the price-tag for Wentz would likely be high. It’s possible the ask for a first-rounder in return, as his stock is probably lower than it once was.

His injury proneness poses a problem and his want to run instead of remain in the pocket has been a liability, but at the end of the day he’s a fundamentally sound quarterback.

Trading away picks for a talent like Carson could be extremely beneficial, especially with head coach Pat Shurmur leading the way in developing the quarterbacks on the roster. Wentz could slip right in and succeed Eli Manning, and he would be a hell of a lot cheaper too.

New York Yankees Battling With Boston Red Sox For Quality Reliever

The New York Yankees recently signed relief pitcher Zach Britton to a three-year $39 million deal with a fourth-year team option if exercised in the second-year. Retaining the former Oriole was essential after David Robertson was signed by the Phildalpehia Pillies.

New York Yankees’ Zach Britton’s deal details:

Despite the fact the Yankees have bolstered their pitching rotation with Zach, it seems as if they’re not done adding pieces to the puzzle. Losing Robertson means they have to find another player to add to the rotation, and Adam Ottavino fits the bill perfectly.

Ottavino as been an extremely effective pitcher throughout his career despite a blip on the radar in 2017 where his ERA jumped to 5.06. In 2018, he bounced back in a big way, earning a 2.43 ERA with six wins and allowing just 25 runs over 77 innings-pitched. That’s averages less than a third of a run per-inning, so approximately one run every three-innings pitched.

With Craig Kimbrel a more expensive alternative that remains on the market, it’s likely the Yankees go all-in on Ottavino to replace Robertson, otherwise they might be forced to overpay for a talented yet unnecessary reliever.

The Boston Red Sox remain in the hunt:

The Yankees could very well be in a negotiating battle with the Red Sox for Ottavino’s services given the monetary commitment it would cost to sign Kimbrel. If New York can lure the former Rockie to the Big Apple, Boston will have two sizable holes in their pitching rotation.

New York Giants: Potential Cap Casualties In The 2019 Offseason

New York Giants, Olivier Vernon

The New York Giants are currently sitting at $32,017,476 in cap space. That ranks them at 19th in the league in total free cap space. The Giants have a lot of room to work with, however. They can trade or cut players in order to free up more cap space. When a player is cut to free up cap space, it is termed a cap casualty. The Giants could be making multiple cap casualties this offseason in order to sign free agents.

Potential Cap Casualties:

Jonathan Stewart:

Running back Jonathan Stewart was a highly criticized free agent signing last offseason. General manager Dave Gettleman brought him in to be a locker room presence, but the high price that he paid was confusing to fans.

The Giants have super star running back Saquon Barkley to start all three downs. They also have a solid second running back in Wayne Gallman. It is unnecessary to hold onto Stewart next season, especially when considering the money they can save by releasing him.

Jonathan Stewart will have a cap hit of $2,775,000 in 2019. If the Giants cut him, they will save $2,525,000 in cap space. The penalty would be only $250,000 in dead money.

Olivier Vernon:

Pass rusher Olivier Vernon was signed by the Giants’ former general manager Jerry Reese in 2016. He signed a loaded contract with high cap hits every year of the deal.

Since being signed by the Giants, Vernon has failed to surpass 8.5 sacks on a season. He has also dealt with multiple injuries (Vernon missed five games this season and four games last season due to injury). With his high cap hit and lack of superstar-level production, there is a high probability that Vernon is no longer on the Giants in 2019.

Vernon’s cap number in 2019 is $19,500,000. Vernon is a good player at an important position, so he is likely to have an active trade market. If the Giants cut or trade Vernon before June 1st, they will save $11,500,000 and incur a penalty of $8,000,000 in dead money.

If Vernon is cut or traded after June 1st, the Giants will only take a penalty of $4,000,000 in dead money and free up $15,500,000 in cap space in 2019. Unfortunately, dumping Vernon’s contract after June 1st will not give the Giants many free agent opportunities. Free agency begins in March, and there will not be many key players left on the market in June.

Janoris Jenkins:

Janoris Jenkins is a cornerback that was also signed by Jerry Reese during the Giants’ spending spree in 2016. Jenkins has been a solid player since joining the Giants, but he has an expensive contract. This contract has been difficult for Jenkins to live up to in recent years, and this has lead to many trade rumors surrounding Janoris.

If the Giants do trade Janoris Jenkins this offseason, they can save a lot of cap space. However, they will also have to eat a lot of dead money. Trading or cutting Janoris before June 1st will save $7,750,000 in cap space, but bring along $7,000,000 in dead money.

Just like with the Vernon contract, the Giants can save more money if they cut Jenkins after June 1st. However, they will not be able to sign anyone to replace him by then. However, if they do decide to get rid of Jenkins after June 1st, they will save $11,250,000 in cap space with only $3,000,000 in dead money.

Grading The New York Yankees 2019 Offseason Moves

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

After being handled easily by the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 ALDS, clear improvement was noticed in regard to a strong yet needy New York Yankees team. Starting pitching was a priority going into the offseason and a need for defense-first infielders also topped the list.

Who have the New York Yankees signed?

Rumors have been plentiful this winter, as they usually are as the hot stove is fueled by the fire of free agency and big-money contracts. The Yanks haven’t exactly addressed their positions of need, only signing one starting pitcher and retaining a relief man/starter.

1.) SP – James Paxton

Paxton was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees in exchange for top-prospect Justus Sheffield and others. The deal was a clear win-now move, as he offers New York value when healthy but has struggled with injuries throughout his career.

He has only played in 102 games in six-years, which is telling in how often he’s available. For comparison’s sake, CC Sabathia has pitched in 155 games in the last six-years, and that’s including his eight-game season in 2014. Given Sabathia’s age, this trade doesn’t make much sense to me. Sheffield is a top young player and giving him up for a pitcher that might not even last the entire season is questionable.

The trade can be justified by Paxton’s stats, though, as he has a career ERA of 3.42 with 23 wins and 11 losses in the last two years. With an offense as productive as the Yankees’ we can expect him to receive more run-support and record more victories as a result. General manager Brian Cashman took a gamble on this deal, but a starting pitcher was a necessity and adding Paxton certainly helps the cause.

Grade: B-

2.) RP – Zach Britton

The Yankees recently re-signed relief pitcher Zach Britton to a three-year, $39 million deal. The offer has a fourth-year team option that must be decided on in the second-year of the contract, otherwise Paxton can opt-out.

This was a necessity for the Bombers as they allowed David Robertson to leave in free agency – he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies to be their primary closer.

Britton recorded a 3.10 ERA with the Orioles and Yankees in 2018. He seemingly pitched far better in New York than in Baltimore, earning a 2.88 ERA in the Big Apple and 3.45 in Camden Yards. He allowed just three homers over 40 inning pitched and gave up 16 runs, averaging less than half a run per-inning.

His WHIP last season was the lowest it has been since 2016 – 1.160 (with NY). Retaining him was an essential move that will likely pay-off in the long-run for Cashman and Co.

GRADE: A-

3.) SP – J.A. Happ

The trade for Paxton and losing out on Patrick Corbin forced the hand of the Yankees. Retaining Happ was their only move unless they wanted to unload a young star like Miguel Andujar.

Happ was productive with New York, finishing the year with an ERA of 2.69 in Pinstripes with seven wins and zero losses. He also had an impressive WHIP of 1.052. The talented lefty will earn $17 million per-season for the next two-years — a safe deal for the Yankees that will allow them to move on if he struggles down the stretch. The deal also includes a third-year vesting option that would be triggered if Happ pitches either 165 innings or makes 27 starts in 2020.

Being that he’s 36-years of age, keeping him on a relatively short contract helps the Yankees monetarily down the line and offers value for the present. This was a good deal for Cashman and the front-office.

Grade: A-

4.) SS – Troy Tulowitzki

The signing of Tulo was extremely important for a team in need of a defensive stop-gap while their primary starter recovers from Tommy John surgery. It has been a dream of Troy’s to play in Pinstripes and it has finally come true. He offers great value on a veteran minimum deal while the Blue Jays pick up his $20 million per-year contract.

The 34-year-old shortstop is a career .290 hitter averaging .252 the past two seasons. He has had a clear drop-ff as his body degrades and age inevitably catches up, yet his defense remains stellar and is still an effective player.

One of the more attractive attributes that Tulowitzki acquires is his ability to get on base. Has on-base-percentage has taken a dip recently but has never dropped below .300. joining a home-run centralized team will benefit the Yanks and Tulo, as he will utilize his patience and eye for the ball to get on base and provide a base-runner for guys like Aaron Judge and Giacarlo Stanton to utilize.

Grade: A

The bottom line, Cashman has added several starters to the team that will contribute in significant ways, but he has not upgraded the starting pitching by any means with the addition of Paxton. With a true No.1 being the priority going into the offseason, the Yanks managed to secure Paxton and re-sign J.A. Happ. They will have a solid rotation of second-tier pitchers but lack that dominating and consistent players that can come in and shut down an opposing offense.

 

The New York Yankees Need To Remain Patient With Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

This winter New York YankeesGary Sanchez’s name has consistently been floated in trade rumors. Informed sources claim the Yankees wanted J.T. Realmuto, or Noah Syndergaard, or some other ridiculous fake trade people throw out for click bait.

The Yankees would be out of their minds to trade Sanchez, and GM Brian Cashman knows it.

What are the issues with the Yankees trading Sanchez?

The first issue is that even if you believe the team has soured on Sanchez (they haven’t), his value is the lowest it has been. After an injury plagued season where he couldn’t hit for average, block the plate, or run to first base, teams are likely to be weary.

He also just had shoulder surgery for an injury that’s bothered him for two years, which would be another red flag for potential suitors. Unless Cashman wants to trade a dollar for three-quarters I don’t see a trade happening.

The other reason it would be a bad idea to trade Sanchez is even more obvious….he’s been better than almost every other catcher in baseball even when he was at his worst. For his career his 162 game average stats would work out to a .262 BA, 43 HR and 113 RBI. J.T. Realmuto would come in at .279, 21, 79.

Realmuto is a good player but Sanchez has to potential to be HOF caliber. Teams don’t give up on that type of talent especially at a premium defensive position.

Are Sanchez’s defensive issues sensationalized?

Speaking of defense, Sanchez’s issues there are overblown. He had the bad luck that some of his passed balls ended up deciding the outcomes of games and shined a spotlight on one of the aspects of catching he struggles with.

His framing stats are in the upper third of all catchers, he controls the running game with a strong-arm and a quick release, and Yankee pitchers have spoken out about how well he calls a game. Yes he has struggled with his positioning blocking the plate and he can get lazy at times and just reach for balls instead of using his body. I’ll take the occasional passed ball in exchange for the overall package he offers.

Another narrative that has bubbled to the surface is his effort running the bases. What seems to be forgotten is he had been struggling with hamstring issues and actually went back on the DL shortly after his second lapse for that very reason.

Effort is not the issue:

If Yankee fans are so worked up about his effort why are they in such a rush to throw $250 million dollars at a player (Manny Machado) who told the world he wasn’t “Charlie Hustle?” I assure you every other team in baseball including the Marlins would be ecstatic to have Sanchez as a foundational piece of their team.

I think fans forget Sanchez is only 26 years old, has not reached his peak in any aspect of the game yet, and like all players will experience growing pains. Aaron Judge struggled adjusting in the later summer of rookie year and if my recollections are correct went 0 for August with 200 strikeouts…or something like that.

Youth is a process:

Every young player hits bumps in his development and I believe injuries were a huge contributor to the Kraken’s. So all you Yankee fans clamoring for a trade be careful what you wish for. As for me, at then end of the season I’m confident that I’ll be posting a self-congratulatory I told you so. Lets see come October what the right call was.