Big Ten Football: Penn State Has A Transfer Problem

Now that the college football season is over, it’s time for free agency. Even if that would have sounded like a crazy statement years ago, it’s how things are now. It’s easier for players to transfer, and for better or worse, the practice has become common. Transfers can even help to make or break a team. Just look at Heisman winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray for examples of how a player can excel after changing teams.

But when you have 12 players either transferring or intending to transfer, something might be wrong with your team. That’s the situation that Penn State is in right now. Eight players have already found new schools to transfer to, this offseason. Four others have declared their intentions to transfer but haven’t found their destinations yet. It’s not like these are all players that would never get a chance to see the field if they remained at Penn State, either.

Redshirt senior Juwan Johnson, the team’s second leading receiver last season, is on the list of players that intends to transfer. Typically, a player like Johnson would be counted on as a leader going into the 2019 season. It’s rare for a player, after all, to want to leave after playing for three years at a school and having a large role lined up for next season. Others, such as 2018 freshman defensive back Isaiah Humphries, didn’t see playing time with Penn State so far but will be lost as future assets because of transferring.

“It’s difficult to see guys leave. It’s kind of the nature of college football at this point, just the landscape of it. I think we have a really good leadership group on our team right now. Maybe guys who weren’t leaders on the team last year but have stepped up into that spotlight. I think guys are responding to it really well,” Penn State punter Blake Gillikin told the Centre Daily Times.

Head coach James Franklin has been silent on the matter for now. Should Franklin speak up about it soon? Probably. National Signing Day is on February 6, and a large exodus of players isn’t a good look in recruiting at all. It’s too soon to say whether or not this is on Franklin and the rest of the staff, but it’s also something that fans should pay attention to. These kinds of things don’t just happen for no reason, after all. And going into National Signing Day, the trend is worrying for a Penn State team that’s already coming off of a bowl loss.

Big Ten Basketball: 1/21/19-1/27/19 – Illinois Upsets Maryland

Big Ten week in review: 1/21/19-1/27/19
 
This past week in Big Ten hoops was another wild one. The three big storylines of the week: Maryland goes 0-2, Purdue upsets Michigan St., Penn State can’t buy a win. Let’s dive into the games!
13 Maryland @ 6 Michigan St.: Michigan St. 69, Maryland 55
 
In one of the marquee match-ups of the week, Michigan St. was able to hold Maryland to 55 points off 34 percent shooting in a win over Maryland. Michigan St. never trailed after going up 5-4 early on.
-Michigan St. senior Kenny Goins went for 14 points, 10 rebounds
-5 Spartans reached double figures
-Maryland’s Bruno Fernando was limited to 12 points but had 13 rebounds
 
Nebraska @ Rutgers: Rutgers 76, Nebraska 69
 
Rutgers, who is predominately always at the bottom of the conference, pulled off a surprising win at home over Nebraska, thanks to a +10 rebounding margin.
-Montez Mathis led Rutgers with 20 points, nine rebounds
-Myles Johnson came off the bench for 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights.
-Three Nebraska starters contributed 14 points or more in the effort
 
Minnesota @ 5 Michigan: Michigan 59, Minnesota 57
 
Michigan again played with fire, but this time escaped thanks to a buzzer-beating baseline floater by Charles Matthews. Michigan was extremely lucky to escape, only shooting 34 percent on the night.
-Only shooting 22 percent, Ignas Brazdeikis led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds
-Jon Teske shot an efficient seven-of-eight from the floor with 15 points
-Jordan Murphy led the Golden Gophers with 15 points and 11 rebounds
 
Indiana @ Northwestern: Northwestern 73, Indiana 66
 
Northwestern was able to escape for their third non-conference victory, fighting off a balanced attack from the Hoosiers.
-Junior Aaron Falzon came off the bench and scored a career-high 21 points, hitting six threes
-Vic Law, A.J. Turner, and Anthony Gaines were all in double-figures and provided a strong all-around contribution
-Indiana freshman standout Romeo Langford had a quieter night, scoring just 12 points
 
Purdue @ Ohio State: Purdue 79, Ohio State 67
 
Purdue’s 50 percent shooting from downtown was enough to counter Ohio State shooting 52 percent in their sixth conference win.
-Big Ten leading scorer Carsen Edwards went for 27 points, also adding five steals
-Matt Haarms came off the bench and added nine points, seven rebounds, and two blocks
-Andre Wesson led Ohio State with 22 points
 
Wisconsin @ Illinois: Wisconsin 72, Illinois 60
 
Despite a quiet night from star Senior Ethan Happ, Wisconsin was able to pull out a win at Illinois.
-Nate Reuvers had 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Wisconsin
-Happ was held to just nine points, the only Wisconsin starter with single-digit points. All but three points came from Wisconsin’s starters
-Giorgi Bezhanishvili led Illinois with 20 points and eight rebounds
 
6 Michigan State @ 19 Iowa: Michigan State 82, Iowa 67
 
Michigan St.’s 24-4 second-half run was enough to come back and get a quality, ranked win over Iowa.
-Nick Ward and Cassius Winston combined for 44 of Michigan St.’s 82 points
-Ward also had a double-double with 10 rebounds, Winston contributed seven assists
-Luke Garza led Iowa with 20 points, Nicholas Baer and Tyler Cook also in double-figures
 
5 Michigan @ Indiana: Michigan 69, Indiana 46
 
Michigan opened up on a 17-0 run, led wire to wire in a dominating victory at Indiana.
-Four Wolverines were in double figures, Ignas Brazdeikis led with 20 points
-Michigan held Indiana to just 28 percent from the field
-Juwan Morgan led Indiana with 16 points and 12 rebounds
 
Illinois @ 13 Maryland (At Madison Square Garden): Illinois 78, Maryland 67
 
Illinois outscored Maryland 48-33 in the second half in an upset win against Maryland at Madison Square Garden.
-Ayo Dosunmu led the way with 20 points and six assists
-Tevian Jones and Andres Feliz had 18 points and 15 points respectively off the bench
-Bruno Fernando led Maryland with 19 points and 10 rebounds
 
Ohio State @ Nebraska: Ohio State 70, Nebraska 60
 
Ohio State was able to hold Nebraska to 36 percent shooting on their home floor as Ohio State came away with a 10 point quality victory.
-Luther Muhammad led Ohio State with 24 points, six boards, and three steals
-Ohio State controlled the boards at +14 margin and +7 on the offensive glass
-James Palmer Jr. had 19 points and Glynn Watson Jr. had 18 points for Nebraska
Northwestern @ Wisconsin: Wisconsin 62, Northwestern 46
 
Ethan Happ’s triple-double leads Wisconsin past Northwestern.
-Happ had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists
-Brad Davidson and D’Mitrik Trice each had 18 points for the winners
-Nobody had more than eight points for Northwestern
 
Rutgers @ Penn State: Rutgers 64, Penn State 60
 
In a battle of the Big Ten bottom feeders, Penn State remains winless in conference play.
-Geo Baker led Rutgers with 20 points
-Both teams shot 35 percent from the field
-Lamar Stevens had 21 points and eight rebounds for Penn State
 
6 Michigan State @ Purdue: Purdue 73, Michigan State 63
 
Purdue upsets Michigan St. at home despite 38 percent shooting
-Five Boilermakers were in double figures, two came off the bench
-Out-rebounded Michigan St. by a +9 margin
-Cassius Winston led Michigan St. with 23 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds
19 Iowa @ Minnesota: Minnesota 92, Iowa 87
 
Minnesota upsets Iowa at home, drops Iowa from polls.
-Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey combined for 46 points, Murphy also with 11 rebounds in the win
-Minnesota shot a phenomenal 57 percent from the field
-Luke Garza, Isaiah Moss, and Tyler Cook combined for 66 of Iowa’s 87 points
 
 
Standings and Rankings (As of 1/28)
 
6 Michigan State, 18-3, 9-1
5 Michigan, 19-1, 8-1,
17 Purdue, 14-6, 7-2,
21 Maryland, 16-5, 7-3
24 Wisconsin, 14-6, 6-3
Minnesota, 15-5, 5-4
Iowa, 16-5, 5-5
Ohio State, 13-6, 3-5
Nebraska, 13-7, 3-6
Indiana, 12-8, 3-6
Northwestern, 12-8, 3-6
Rutgers, 10-9, 3-6
Illinois, 6-14, 2-7
Penn State, 7-13, 0-9

New York Yankees: Can Jacoby Ellsbury Make A Significant Impact In 2019?

New York Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury

The New York Yankees had a lot of questions to be answered after a disappointing postseason run in 2018, playing just five games before their exit. But with just two weeks to go until spring training begins, many questions still exist, specifically focused on position players.

The odds of getting all-star third baseman Manny Machado are becoming slimmer as time goes on, giving Yankees fans envisions of a possible six-man infield in Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, DJ Lemahieu, Gleyber Torres, and a good possibility of Luke Voit and Tyler Wade.

Nobody really has an idea what will happen to Greg Bird after spring training. There had been a little talk about implementing him as part of a trade package for a starting pitcher, but with a rotation set that is no longer the case.

The New York Yankees need to organize the outfield:

With the roster filling out, the outfield situation remains one of, if not the biggest question. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, and Brett Gardner remain obvious locks. Assuming that Tyler Wade will make the roster, we have seen in the past that he has the ability to shift into the outfield if need be, but the Yankees would much rather keep him in the middle infield.

Signing Bryce Harper seems very unlikely, so two men may be battling it out for a spot in the outfield. Those players are Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury, and dependent on which one makes it, if not both, it will have drastic impacts on how the outfield rotation may work, and Wade may help decide the roles of those two players, and himself.

After finding himself on the MVP ballot twice, finishing as the runner-up in 2011, and finishing third in the 2008 American League rookie of the year voting, Ellsbury hasn’t been that same player since coming to New York.

The good old days:

In seven years in Boston, he hit .297, had an OBP of .350, and a slugging percentage of .439. In his four years in the Bronx, he’s hit .264, has an OBP of .330, and a slugging percentage of .386; all of those numbers significantly down compared to when in Boston.

Three of his five years have been full of injuries, and him not appearing at all last season. It was like a game of two steps forward, one step back for Ellsbury last season. He would make progress in recovering from his injuries, then re-injuring himself again, before being shut down in August with hip surgery.

Ellsbury can still offer value:

Though his hitting numbers have been down, he’s still a threat on the bases, averaging a steal every five games since being in pinstripes. That speed is also valuable in the outfield, enabling him to cover more ground to track down balls. But when it comes to the bases, the Yankees have been relying on Tyler Wade for pinch running. Though he only has two career stolen bases, he is one of the fastest and smartest Yankees on the base-paths.

Both Wade and Ellsbury would be used in their respective positions for speed and defense since their hitting numbers have been low. Though Wade only occasionally plays outfield, he could affect Jacoby Ellsbury’s status on the Yankees.

Red Thunder:

This brings us to Clint Frazier. With Brett Gardner’s stats declining and Frazier spending the bulk of the season when healthy in Scranton to develop, there could be a good chance he is the Yankee’s starting left fielder. He has a similar player type as Gardner, just has more power; throwing power and hitting power.

Compared to Stanton, he is a better and faster defender, also better on the bases. It is more likely, I think, that Frazier will win the left field job with Stanton as your DH, rotating in and out of the corner outfield spots as necessary. Gardner can stand as your fourth outfielder, and in this scenario you would want to have Tyler Wade in the big leagues for pinch-running and utility, primarily 2B, SS, and CF if need be.

With all of that being said, it is really hard to imagine Jacoby Ellsbury having a role with the Yankees this season. A young, fast, group of core outfielders (and Tyler Wade) led by two veterans will be really tough to see Ellsbury playing this year. But injuries have been a problem in the past, Gardner is getting older and becoming more prone to injuries, and Aaron Hicks has had injury problems in the last few years.

An injury to the infield could see Wade being more involved there, giving a slight bit of an opportunity to pinch-run and play a OF for Ellsbury. Will the Yankees trade Ellsbury? Will he accept a minor league assignment? Will the Yankees finally give up and release him? Ellsbury creates a lot of questions, but as spring training approaches, we will start to know more answers.

The New York Yankees Are Playing A Risky Game At The Catcher Position

The New York Yankees seem to be testing their luck at the catcher position, instilling faith in the struggling Gary Sanchez and sticking with Austin Romine as the backup. Sanchez had a very rough 2018, finishing the season with a .186 batting average and allowed 18 passed balls behind the plate (74 games).

The previously rising star was hitting with power and efficiency in 2016-17 but fell off after having shoulder surgery and sustaining two right-groin injuries that sidelined him last season.

The New York Yankees don’t have much backup:

Romine will likely act as the No.2 option behind Sanchez, and if the starter fails to regain his form, we could see Romine receive more work. The backup earned a .244 BA on 242 at-bats in 2018, the highest of his seven-year career. Realistically, he’s a perennial second-tier option, and the Yanks are running a massive risk with Sanchez behind the plate, but it’s a calculated one and a faith-based move from general manager Brian Cashman.

Why sticking with “The Kraken” is a good move:

Sanchez has a career BA of .252, which was damaged badly by last seasons performance. If I had to hedge my luck, I would bet on the young catcher returning to form. Why? Because the two years leading up to his 2018 goose-egg he averaged a .288 BA.

He’s a more than capable hitter that did knock 18 balls out of the park last season, which was a little more than half of what he recorded in 2017. Injuries seem to be the primary culprit here, and if he has recovered fully there should be no limits to his potential for the season ahead.

The fact of the matter is that a healthy Sanchez could be the key to an even more deadly Yankees lineup. Having their five-spot man player will only increase the team’s runs-per-game totals and the probability of enjoying an all-to-familiar victory.

EXTRA:

“Thank you 2018 for giving me adversity,” Sanchez said on Instagram earlier this month. “Thank you because that adversity has only fueled my fire to have a healthy, focused and improved 2019.”

“I would like to think that he was very much back on track at the end of the season,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think this year is going to be a huge year of growth for him. Going through some of the challenges and adversity that he went through, I think, is going to make him a better player.”

New York Giants Reportedly Planning On Drafting Eli’s Successor In 2019

New York Giants, Eli Manning

In his post-season press conference, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman revealed he had a “very honest” conversation with quarterback Eli Manning. The topics discussed in this conversation were never officially revealed as it was private between Manning and Gettleman. However, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post recently reported on what was discussed during that conversation.

According to Schwartz, “The ‘brutally honest’ assessment Gettleman promised will not result in parting with Manning, but it will lead to a high-alert effort to find his successor.”

The Giants’ Plan To Replicate The Chiefs’ And Other Teams’ Successes

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs took the NFL by storm in 2018. In his second NFL season, his first as a starter, Mahomes threw 50 touchdown passes. Patrick spent his entire 2017 rookie season sitting behind Alex Smith, learning from the veteran, and preparing to take over as a starter in 2018. The Giants are reportedly looking to replicate the Chiefs’ formula and success this year.

The Giants did something similar to this in 2004. After making a draft day trade to acquire Eli Manning, they sat him behind veteran Kurt Warner to start the 2004 NFL season. However, in week 11, the Giants put Warner on the bench and let Manning take over. Manning had a rough 7 games in his rookie season, but he gained valuable experience.

Eli was much more ready to face NFL defenses in his sophomore season. In his second season, Manning finished among the top five quarterbacks in both passing yards and touchdown passes, while leading an offense that finished third in the NFL in scoring with a total of 422 points. It was the most points the Giants scored in a single season since 1963. The Giants won the NFC East with an 11–5 record, and advanced to the postseason as the #4-seed.

Sitting back and learning to begin their first season has proven to be very effective for NFL quarterbacks. In 2018, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson started the season as the second-string quarterback. However, when each of them got their chance to play, they proved to be the best quarterbacks on the roster. Both quarterbacks would attribute much of their success to the help they received from the other quarterbacks on their rosters. Mayfield and Jackson were not perfect and struggled at times, but they will likely progress in their sophomore seasons.

Eli Manning has never had to mentor a quarterback before. However, in 2019, it seems like he will play a major role in grooming the successor:

Gettleman has not divulged the details of the “great conversation’’ he had with Manning after the season. It appears as if Manning was told of the plan to bring in a youngster to take his job down the road. No one is asking Manning to be a quarterbacks coach, but the Giants need to know their veteran will embrace the newcomer. By all indications, Manning is fine with that scenario, as he realizes too much losing has gone on and he cannot play forever.

Gettleman’s Quarterback Draft Search

Paul Schwartz’s report came with this valuable piece of information: “The search for the next franchise quarterback will be undertaken in the draft, not free agency.” The 2019 free agent class of quarterbacks is nothing special. Nick Foles is not a young quarterback that Eli could groom and Teddy Bridgewater is not looked at as a franchise quarterback due to injury history. However, there are plenty of quarterback options in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State fits Dave Gettleman’s mold. It is early in the draft process, but based on what we know about Gettleman, Haskins is likely to be the Giants’ top-ranked quarterback on their big board. With the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Haskins could be an option. “The Giants have yet to determine if Haskins should be taken that high and will study him relentlessly in the coming weeks, trying to pick apart every aspect of his game and personality.”

Other top quarterback prospects include Kyler Murray, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones. Kyler Murray is supposedly not an option for Gettleman, due to his lack of size and his inexperience in a pro style system. Lock and Jones have typically not been looked at as top ten quarterbacks by most analysts. However, that could change with the NFL Scouting Combine coming up in March. The Giants will definitely be evaluating and meeting with the top quarterback prospects.

New York Yankees Infield Is Crowded And That’s A Good Thing

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has any number of configurations he can come up with from this roster, limited as it is by the injury to Gregorius. Fans cannot just assume that the positioning will be as it was last season, especially with the shortcomings of Andujar on defense at third base and those of Bird on offense across the diamond.

The infield personnel on the 40-man roster:

Miguel Andujar
Greg Bird
Thairo Estrada
Didi Gregorius
DJ LeMahieu
Gleyber Torres
Troy Tulowitzki
Luke Voit
Tyler Wade

The Yankees have not signed free-agent shortstop and third baseman Manny Machado, which would have gone a long way towards clarifying the infield now that Gregorius is not anchoring it with his veteran presence.

Rather, the Yankees signed Tulowitzki to shore up the infield in Gregorius’ absence. Tulowitzki is a risk at this juncture in his career. He’s been out the majority of two seasons with injuries and is at least four seasons away from his All-Star years with the Colorado Rockies.

What do the Yankees expect of Tulowitzki?

According to General Manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees are committed to Tulowitzki at shortstop.

Now whether there is some level of gamesmanship being played by Cashman in the Machado sweepstakes here is anybody’s guess, but it appears that the Yankees will start the season with Tulowitzki at shortstop.

One of the many configurations of the infield would then have Tulowitzki surrounded by Torres at second base, Voit at first base and Andujar at third base.  Fans can only hope that Andujar’s range has increased and that Tulowitzki’s has not diminished, as the left side of the infield was a defensive minefield last season.

On the other side of Tulowitzki, virtually two players in their second year of big league baseball.  Both Torres and Voit had outstanding years offensively, but defensively, both need work and experience.

In this scenario, DJ LeMahieu would be the utility man, coming off the bench when called on, perhaps even as a defensive replacement.

In another configuration of the infield, Torres would be at shortstop, anchoring the infield, with Andjuar at third base, DJ LeMahieu with his Gold Gloves at second base and Voit at first base.  Again, the left side of the infield is a bit of a question mark with two poor defenders there.

Throughout the course of the offseason, fans have heard suggestions that Andujar, because of his poor defense, should be moved to first base or left field and Both positions have their own unique challenges as we go into the ’19 season.  The outfield currently has five players for three spots and there is a battle brewing for first base between Bird and Voit.  Why would you put Andujar into either of these two mixes?

Voit, however, has Cashman’s endorsement and it’s up to Bird to fight to regain the first base job.

So what configuration will Opening Day feature for the Yankee infield?  With Machado and Harper and other free agents still available are the Yankees done acquiring personnel for the ’19 season?  The Yankee infield will wear many faces in ’19, as the team mixes and matches players to field the best defensive infield possible with whoever is most healthy and productive.