New York Knicks Stay Quiet in Trades; Buyout Kanter & Matthews

New York Knicks fans heard crickets as the clock rolled past the 3pm deadline.  However, the Knicks did make a couple of moves after the deadline past.

The New York Knicks officially complete buyouts with center Enes Kanter and most recently acquired guard Wes Matthews.  Both of these do not come as a shocker and more routine.

There’s nothing much on Matthews being bought out.  No one expected him ot be a Knick long.  He averaged 7 points a game and one sweet headband.  It is reported that Matthews will sign with the Indiana Pacers.  Thank you for your 2 game service.

Kanter, on the other hand, man, what a character.  Most fans couldn’t wait for this guy to get bought out.  He simply wore out his welcome.  Kanter was great on offense, but sluggish on defense.  I also got a few chuckles from him on social media, but more confusion.  Kanter turned into a cancer and tried his best to always appear jovial.

Kanter is in a battle with the Turkish government and brought unnecessary attention to the team for not playing.  I mean come on man, what do you expect on the leagues youngest team?  To play all the time?  Quit whining and making it all out to be about you.

Nothing more to say on Kanter.  Fans know everything about this guy because he’s active on social media and in the national media through his legal battle.  Thank you for your weirdish time as a Knick.

The Boston Celtics have expressed interest in Kanter after the buyout.  This bods well for the Knicks.  Once Kyrie Irving sees how weird Kanter is, he’ll want out.

I’ll end it with Kanter’s most memorable Knick quote and didn’t come true, “When I think of the playoffs, my nipples get hard.”

New York Giants Will Not Bring Back Jonathan Stewart For 2019

The New York Giants will have a different player providing running back depth this season. Jonathan Stewart had a poor start to the 2018 season and didn’t get much of a chance to bounce back after picking up an injury early on, and now, the Giants are moving on from the 31-year-old veteran running back.

Stewart only played in three games and had the worst year of his career by far, finishing with only 17 yards. He only had six rushing attempts total before being placed on the injured reserve list near the end of September. After spending a very short time on the active roster, it doesn’t look like Stewart will get a second shot to prove himself worthy of backing up Saquon Barkley, a job that was taken over by Wayne Gallman early in the season.

According to The Athletic, the team is not picking up the option for the second year on Stewart’s contract. The move will save the Giants $250k in cap space, which isn’t anything amazing but will still help when it comes to adding players that actually contribute something to the team.

Gallman, who largely played the role that Stewart was expected to play when he first joined the Giants, rushed the ball 51 times for 176 yards and one touchdown last year. It’s not great numbers, but Saquon Barkley obviously had the spotlight at the position and dominated carries.

The numbers are down from Gallman’s first year in the league, and with Stewart leaving the team, another good backup running back might be one of the needs for the Giants now that the starting spot is firmly locked down by a star player.

The New York Knicks Are In A Good Position For Anthony Davis

According to the NY Post, Anthony Davis has put the New York Knicks on the same level as the Los Angeles Lakers as his preferred destination.  This is a good thing for the New York Knicks.  However, it seems that no deal will be made before the deadline.

This offseason is a different story.  Depending on how the rest of the season goes, the possibility of a top 2 pick will be key in trading for Davis.  Having a top 2 pick makes the Knicks more appealing to the Pelicans then any other team.

Trading picks is not the right way for the Knicks:

With that being said, would you want to trade a top 2 pick for Anthony Davis?  Many Knicks fans will say, “absolutely not!”  A top 2 pick will mean either Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett and a very bright future for the franchise.  Those players can be special, but can they be as special as Davis?

We already know what Anthony Davis is, one of the best players in the league.  Personally, I’d do the trade involving this year’s pick.  Getting Davis means that New York will be more appealing than ever.  Players will come and the Knicks will be major contenders in the eastern conference.

The Knicks are in a better spot then people may think.  They have better young assets, picks and more money than the Lakers, despite the Lakers having the LeBron factor.  Plus, with the Warriors still reigning supreme, the Lakers aren’t winning soon.

The Knicks will be a major player for Davis this offseason.  I would not be surprised if he lands with the Knicks.  The Knicks will have to give up a lot, including young players and picks.  But for a chance at regaining basketball glory in New York, and possibly a championship, depending on who comes, the sky’s the limit.

New York Knicks’ Kevin Knox Replaces Lonzo Ball in Rising Stars Game

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

The New York Knicks have not 1, but 2 representatives in All-Star weekend now. Rookie Kevin Knox has been added to the Rising Stars roster, replacing Lakers Lonzo Ball.  Newly acquired Dennis Smith Jr. will be representing the team in the dunk contest as well.

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about Knox being snubbed to the Rising Stars game wasn’t a good sign.  If the Knicks couldn’t get their most recent lottery pick into that game, then what does that mean for the future of the franchise?  It wasn’t a good omen and left a bad taste in our mouths.

That may have changed, slightly.  It is good that Knox is now in the game, but he got in from another player being injured.  Another player had to take Ball’s spot and it’s good that they selected Knox, but it feels uneventful.  It’s basically like, “welp, since Ball can’t play, I guess we’ll have to take Knox.”  That’s the vision running through my head.

I’m still upset that Knox wasn’t chosen in the first place.  Has he had a rocky started to the season?  Yes.  Are his stats good?  Statistically, no.  But, has he showed improvements?  Yes.  Plus, he’s only 19-years-old, of course, he’s a rising star.  He can play in this game until he’s 21, when he’ll still be developing.

Anyway, it’s still positive that Knox gets to be in this game.  The kid, who struggled with his confidence all season, needs this.  Despite being a replacement, this will still be a confidence booster that Knox needs to succeed in this league.  And Smith Jr. won’t be alone during all-star weekend.

New York Yankees: Miguel Andujar Wins Important Award

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

While New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar missed out on the AL Rookie of the Year Award by a slim margin, he did enjoy another prestigious honor on Wednesday night.

Yankees youth star wins a great award:

Andujar won the Thurmon Munson award, named after a great player that was a generational talent in his time. The young infielder had a stellar 2018 at the plate, hitting .297 with 47 doubles, setting a Yankees record at the position.

Moving forward, Andujar will look to improve upon his defensive skills which caused him problems last season, as he racked up 15 errors. Offseason work and adapting to the speed and power of the MLB takes time, especially for a player that wasn’t expected to perform as well as he did.

Hopefully, Andujar can continue improving and playing at a high level. The Yankees improved the roster in terms of pitching and infield defense this offseason, which should indicate another playoff run and potential World Series caliber team. Staying healthy and developing as the season progresses will be Miguel’s primary goal.

The AHRCNYC award presented only attests to the influence Andujar has on the community and helping people with disabilities. A special player that the Yankees would be smart to keep around the team for a long time. Rumors of a potential trade sending Andujar away this offseason proved to be smoke and mirrors, which all Yankees fans should be happy about.

New York Yankees: Didi Gregorius Takes Big Rehab Leap

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees made suitable moves this offseason to fill the shortstop position until starter Didi Gregorius returns from Tommy John surgery. Signing Troy Tulowitzki was an efficient move that will save the Yankees cap-space — he’s on a veteran minimum deal with the Toronto Blue Jays paying him $20 million per season on a bad contract.

Tulo has the defensive capabilities to fill the role effectively, but his offensive production has fallen off in recent years, primarily due to the inevitable degradation from age. He will act as a stop-gap for the time being and then as a rotational piece when Gregorius returns.

How has the Yankees shortstop’s rehab progressed?

According to general manager Aaron Boone, “Everything is going well and according to plan.”

Gregorius was excited about taking the next steps in the healing process, stating “hopefully next week I start doing throwing exercises. It’s a lot of steps. I’m waiting for that.”

The 29-year-old infielder is expected to miss at least half of the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery, which should have a shorter recovery time being that he’s a position player rather than a pitcher.

What will the Yankees be missing with Didi’s absence?

The shortstop had a productive 2018 at the plate, hitting .268 (lowest in 2015) with an impressive 27 homers (most in career) and 86 RBIs. The Yankees as a whole took a more home run-centric approach towards last season, with several unexpected players hitting for power rather than contact.

Moving forward, I wouldn’t expect Didi to return to full form right off the bat – he will likely be eased back into his role.

New York Yankees: Will Austin Romine remain the Yankees Back-up catcher?

In 2018, New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez missed a good portion of the season because of groin injuries throughout the season. When he went down, back-up catcher Austin Romine did a great job behind the plate, but in the case for Yankees fans, did Romine do “too good of a job” in the sense that he could be traded to another team to take the role as a starting catcher? If that were to happen, would Kyle Higashioka do a good enough job as the back-up?

Is Romine deserving of a starting job elsewhere?

Around the trade deadline last season, the first rumors emerged that teams would possibly be interested in acquiring Austin Romine in a trade for a pitcher. He caught a good amount of games from May into mid-summer when Sanchez was rehabbing his groin and found himself on the DL twice.

In 242 at-bats in 2018, Romine hit .244 and had an OBP of .295 while slugging .417. In addition, he had 10 HR and 42 RBIs. He has shown in the last three seasons that he is a more reliable defensive catcher with a fielding percentage of .994 and a significantly less number of pass balls, compared to 18 passed balls for Sanchez in just 74 starts behind the plate in 2018.

Another thing that attracts teams to Romine is his work ethic and passion of the game. In 2018, he won the Yankees “heart and hustle award”, and has previously worked so hard to try and get back to the major leagues after limited appearances in 2011, 2014, and 2015, and no appearances in 2012. He’s also been known to stand up for his teammates and call out opposing players when need be. His most famous example of that is his brawl with Miguel Cabrera in 2017 against the Tigers.

Could Kyle Higashioka do a good enough job?

Kyle Higashioka has also been constantly working as hard as he can for his shot. Despite many trips up and down from AAA since the beginning of 2017, he wasn’t able to get his first until 2018 when he hit a long home-run during Sunday Night Baseball against the Red Sox.

His first three major league hits were actually home-runs but only hit .167 in 72 AB. He did have solid defense, with just one error in 20 starts, but his arm needs work. He would generally put the throws on target, just not quick enough.

Higashioka clearly had trouble at-bat in 2018, and also struggled in AAA batting only .202. With that average, he should be lucky that the Yankees were relatively low on catching options because he could have easily been sent down to AA. His fielding percentage was even slightly lower with Trenton, at .986.

Kyle Higashioka clearly needs work to be MLB ready. Besides his fielding percentage, his hitting numbers are nowhere near ready to be the MLB back-up catcher. If the Yankees were to trade Romine, they would need to receive a MLB ready catcher in exchange or sign an MLB veteran catcher, or claim one off of waivers. Veterans Matt Weiters, Caleb Joseph, and Stephen Vogt are all free-agents and could work as a back-up if a trade were to happen.

New York Yankees: Can Dellin Betances Continue His Dominance?

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances

With the New York Yankees making several offseason moves to bolster their roster, some of their current talents are primed for big years in 2019. One such name is Dellin Betances, who turned in yet another outstanding season in 2018. Despite a shaky start that resulted in his four-year all-star streak snap, he returned to being one of the most dominant setup men in the league.

2018 Stats (New York Yankees):

66 Games, 4-6, 2.70 ERA, 115 SO, 66.2 IP, 1.050 WHIP, 1.7 WAR

Betances struggled at the end of 2017, and it looked to continue in 2018, as he pitched to 4.91 ERA in March/April. May saw his numbers improve significantly, with a more respectable 3.75 ERA. June saw him return to his dominant self, allowing only a single run through the end of July.

2018 was a milestone year for Betances, as he would set an American League record for most consecutive appearances with a strikeout with 44 games. The 6-foot-8 righty was one such appearance shy of tying the major league record, set by Brewers reliever Corey Knebel. He also became the only reliever in MLB history to strike out at least 100 batters in four consecutive seasons.

Now, Betances joins probably one of MLB’s most powerful bullpens on paper, teaming with the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, and Adam Ottovino among others.

There are two problems with Betances, and one is his streakiness. Due to being 6-foot-8, it’s difficult for him to keep his mechanics right throughout the year. This what led to him becoming a non-factor in the 2017 postseason. Another is his lack of ability to stop the running game. In 2018, he allowed 13 stolen bases, eight in 2017, and a career-high 21 in 2016. His slow approach to the plate makes it possible for even slower runners to steal, especially when he throws his breaking ball.

If the Yankees can minimize those two concerns, then Betances could easily rack up another 100+ strikeouts in 2019. If he can keep up his dominance the entire year, a World Series appearance is easily within the cards.

Along with center fielder Aaron Hicks and shortstop Didi Gregorius, Betances could become a free agent for the first time next offseason.

2019 Stat Predictions:

68 Games, 3-2, 2.59 ERA, 5 Saves, 123 SO, 71.1 IP, 1.019 WHIP

Awards Predictions:

All-Star, Top-10 Reliever of the Year Finish

New York Yankees: CC Sabathia will be getting down to business in ’19

On Monday, Steiner Sports memorialized New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia’s now famous exit line from his September 27th ejection when he pointed to the Tampa Bay Rays dugout and said “That’s for you Bitch.”  Sabathia was having a stellar outing that day, yielding just one hit over five frames, but he intentionally hit Rays’ catcher Jesus Sucre in defense of Austin Romine, who had been hit earlier in the game.  

Sabathia cost himself some loose change for his aggression:

Sabathia’s action cost him $500,000 as he was due to reach an innings-pitched incentive during the game, his last of the season.  He had entered the game with 148 innings pitched and he needed to complete 155 innings to reach the bonus. It was discovered, however, on December 17th that the warrior would receive the bonus from the team, despite being six outs shy of the 155 innings specified in his contract for the payment.

Sabathia is back for the Yankees, leading the way on the field and in the clubhouse with his warrior’s attitude.  A fierce, emotional competitor, Sabathia plays the game the way it should be played and fans were thrilled when the Yankees brought Sabathia back for his eleventh season with the team and awarded him the bonus he had so nearly earned and so richly deserved.

A projection for Yankees’ Sabathia in 2019:

What can fans expect from Sabathia in ’19?  Projections, conservative as they usually are, suggest he will pitch fewer innings (117), that his numbers will decline, but not sharply-his ERA which was 3.65 in ’18 is projected by Steamer to be 3.75 in ’19.  

Sabathia, who successfully underwent surgery to clear a blockage in one of the arteries leading to his heart, is likely in his final season.  When he re-signed with the Yankees back in December, Sabathia said he felt there was “unfinished business to attend to.”  

The chase for number 28 begins February 13th, when Sabathia will report along with the other pitchers for spring training – let’s hope he gets down to business and finishes what he and the rest of the team are there to do, win a championship.

New York Giants: Osi Unemyiora Believes Eli Manning Can Still Ball Out

New York Giants, Eli Manning

The jury is out on whether New York Giants veteran quarterback Eli Manning can continue performing at a professional level. Legendary defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora seems to believe that the Giants’ signal-caller still has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Umenyiora enjoyed a nine-year career in the NFL, seven of which he spent with the Giants, winning two Super Bowls in the process. He’s spent plenty of time with Manning, learning his tendencies and skill-set on the offensive side of the ball.

The former NFL player stated in regard to Manning:

“I feel he can still play, what is he 37, 38 years old now? He’s still making good reads, still got good arm strength, I think he can play, for sure.”

Ultimately, it comes down to the productiveness of the offensive line and its ability to protect Manning. Giving the veteran time to move through his progressions is the key to success, and we saw last year that he can, in fact, still make a majority of the throws — more-so intermediate than deep balls.

The acquisition of left tackle Nate Solder and the drafting of Will Hernandez has certainly helped the left side of the line develop, while the right still has several question marks. The prolonged consistency of Jamon Brown and Chad Wheeler at right tackle represent concerns. I anticipate the Giants finding a replacement for Wheeler this offseason whether it be through the draft or free agency. Solving the puzzle on the right side and the return of center Jon Halapaio should offer a much better line for Manning to work behind.

Additionally, if the Giants choose to draft a rookie quarterback they will need to ensure they can protect their successor. Putting a young quarterback in a Josh Rosen situation where he’s running for his life on every play could be destructive to his development.

My take:

Personally, I think Manning is still capable but he requires a lot to achieve success. Good receivers, a great offensive line, a generational running back…if he can’t succeed, it would be incredibly disheartening. It will likely be Manning’s final season as the Giants quarterback, given he fails to run the offense to perfection. If a passer is drafted I would expect the 2019 season to be his last, but if Osi is right, Manning might be able to get Big Blue to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.