New York Giants: Landon Collins Makes Official Goodbye To New York

In something of a baffling move, the New York Giants decided not to use the franchise tag on Landon Collins. It means that one of their best defensive players and the leading member of their secondary is going to become a free agent, and not only will the Giants lose Collins, but they won’t get anything for him. It might free up salary cap room for next season, but it’s unlikely that the team will be able to replace Collins’ production using that extra cash.

However, the deadline to use the franchise tag has passed and the matter is a done deal that Giants fans will have to live with regardless of what they think about the decision. There’s no turning back now, and Collins himself has taken to Twitter to say goodbye to the city and the team that drafted him all the way back in 2015.

Collins will leave the Giants as a fan favorite and will likely have a positive legacy with the team despite not playing as long as some of the other memorable Giants of the past. After all, the majority of fans wanted the team to sign Collins to a new deal, and at 25, Collins will go down in the record books as a player that left the Giants in his prime with plenty of things left to accomplish.

During four seasons with the team, Collins registered 428 tackles and 32 passes defended as well as 8 interceptions and, during the 2016 season, four sacks. His hard-hitting style and skill against the run is both something that will be remembered and something that’s hard to replace, and at the end of the day, most Giants fans will be asking one thing: why let a player like this go for nothing?

New York Yankees: Can Miguel Andujar Build Off Of Stellar Rookie Campaign?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

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. Miguel Andujar is no exception, coming off a 2018 season that saw him finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting to Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. While his defense is the primary concern, he will look to again help lead a dangerous Yankee offense to the postseason.

2018 Stats (New York Yankees):

149 Games, .297/.328/.527/.855, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 25 BB, 97 SO, 83 Runs Scored, 2.2 WAR

Whether or not he won ROY, Andujar had an excellent rookie year. For one, he surpassed Joe DiMaggio for most doubles by a rookie in franchise history (47).  His 27 home runs also helped the Yankees break the single-season home run record and win 100 games. It was only good enough for a wild card spot before the Yankees were defeated in the ALDS by the Red Sox.

While his bat helped carry the team for most of the season, his defense is a continuous concern. He committed 15 errors at third base, tied for fourth worst in baseball in 2018. A positive is that he spent much of the winter working to improve his footwork among other things. One person who worked with the young Andujar was Adrian Beltre, who had similar problems early in his career.

Only time will tell if Andujar’s defense can improve, or if he’s destined for a role as a DH. Also, forget the idea of him having a “sophomore slump” in 2019. Don’t be surprised if his sophomore year is one of massive improvement, both offensively and defensively.

2019 Stat Predictions:

152 Games, .296/.349/.557/.906, 32 HR, 99 RBI, 46 BB, 91 Runs Scored

Awards Predictions:

All-Star, Silver Slugger

New York Knicks Mitchell Robinson is Dominating the League

New York Knicks, Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

Folks, the New York Knicks have hit the home stretch. Our beloved squad sits at an abysmal (or excellent) 13-50 with 19 games to play. They’re coming off a twenty-point loss to the Clippers. Most of us prefer watching the Kyrie and KD video than the actual Knicks when Emmanuel Mudiay is in the game. I get it, it’s been a long season. However, there is always a silver lining, and for us, it’s none other than the twenty-year-old rookie from Louisiana, Mitchell Robinson. Obviously, there’s been more than a few Robinson articles from various news outlets, but his dominance has become so pronounced that I wanted to examine his best skills, rank amongst fellow rookies, and outlook for the future.

He is Blocking Shots at an All-Time Rate

The three best shot-blockers this season in the NBA are Myles Turner (2.8 BPG), Anthony Davis (2.5 BPG) and none other than Mitchell Robinson (2.3 BPG). That’s mighty impressive for a second-round pick.

But it becomes downright ridiculous when you consider the amount of minutes the three guys have played. Turner plays 29 minutes a night, Davis plays 35, and that’s factoring in his recent stretch of sub-twenty minute nights. Robinson has played 19 minutes a game.

Robinson has blocked a total of 109 shots, in 877 total minutes. Davis has 121 swats in 1700 minutes, and Turner has 159 rejections in 1609 minutes. So in 823 less minutes, Mitch has blocked just 12 less shots than AD, and in 732 less minutes than Turner, Robinson has only 50 less blocks. Extrapolated over 823 more minutes, Robinson would have over 50 more rejections than Turner and more than 70 more blocks than Davis.

Here’s one more stat. The top-five block percentage seasons in NBA history (minimum 100 blocks) are as follows: Manute Bol (10.8), Manute Bol (10.8), Manute Bol (10.6), Manute Bol (10.6), and Mitchell Robinson (10.4). Block percentage estimates the percentage of an opponent’s’ shots a player blocks in his time on the floor (NYT).

He’s a truly elite rim protector who only has room to grow, at just twenty years old. Recently his fouls have gone down and his efficiency has ballooned.

He is an Emerging Offensive Threat

Over Mitch’s last ten games, he’s averaging 11.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game on .719 FG% and .727 FT% in just 23.5 minutes per game (and nearly four blocks a game, by the way). He has attempted just ONE shot outside the paint this season. On the surface, his offensive game looks limited.

But as the NBA begins to increasingly value rim-runners who catch lobs on one end and block shots on the other, and traditional back-to-the-basket big men are going out of style, Robinson has tangible offensive upside. I mean, look at the body control here:

Robinson is an elite “pick-and-lob” big man who has clearly started to demand attention from opposing defenses.

An Interesting Exercise

With Robinson playing out of his mind the last few weeks, I thought it would be interesting to see what a top-ten re-draft of the 2018 NBA Draft would look like. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Phoenix Suns: Luka Doncic

Duh. (Phoenix messed this up bad, by the way)

 

2. Sacramento Kings: Jaren Jackson Jr.

I like JJJ a lot, and I think he’s shown more consistency as both a defender and shooter than Bagley.

 

3. Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young

Young has been unreal over the past month, and he was a great find for Atlanta.

 

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Marvin Bagley III

Bagley has shown flashes of being an elite player recently, and he’s no consolation prize for the Grizz.

 

5. Dallas Mavericks: DeAndre Ayton

I think you have to go Ayton here, but he has looked less than impressive despite excellent box score numbers.

 

6. Orlando Magic: Mitchell Robinson

Mitch comes in here, as a (WAY) better version than the actual pick, Mo Bamba. The Magic love length, and Mitch has that in spades.

 

7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr.

Same pick here for the Bulls; WCJ has been really good, and he and Robinson was a toss-up.

 

8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai has been super productive for the Clips, and he’s significantly better than the actual point guard that went here, Collin Sexton.

 

9. New York Knicks: Kevin Huerter

I think our Knicks would be enticed by Huerter’s shooting ability and efficiency, and he has quietly been extremely productive.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mohamed Bamba

The 76ers would go with potential over production and grab the athletically-gifted Bamba, despite limited minutes.

 

So, there you have it. I think Mitch goes in the top six, despite his actual selection being pick #36. Unreal. Robinson is a truly special two-way player, and the Knicks are lucky to have him, both in the short and long term.

 

 

 

 

 

Should New York Jets Consider Cole Beasley In Free Agency?

There’s no question that the New York Jets are in dire need of wide receiver talent after the discouraging performance of Jermaine Kearse and the injury to Quincy Enunwa. Robby Anderson has proven he can be a quality option, but more as a No. 2 wideout.

The New York Jets need to scour the wide receiver market:

The Jets need to find a slot option and a No. 1 receiver to complement Anderson. Options on the free agent/trade market include Antonio Brown, Cole Beasley, Golden Tate, John Brown, and then several other lower-tier options.

Realistically, the only players the Jets will likely look at are Beasley, Tate, Brown, and several draft alternatives. The former Cowboy could be a great fit in a Jets offense that focuses on the intermediate game.

Beasley has earned impressive numbers over the year in Dallas — 2018 stats: 16 games, 65 catches, 87 targets, 672 yards, 3 touchdowns. 74.7% catch rate, 10.3 yards per reception, 7.72 yards per target (50th / 81 wide receivers with 50+ targets), 109.0 passer rating when targeted (19th)

What makes Cole Beasley so attractive?

He’s a reliable option on third down and is extremely shifty in the open field. Beasley’s speed and agility have been his trademark throughout his career, and for that reason, he will likely be asking for a decent sized contract in 2019.

It’s known that the Cowboys would like to retain the talented slot receiver, but his asking price might be out of their range. He wants at least $20 million guaranteed. Given the beating he takes as a smaller player, it’s only fair he demands a high asking price.

This would indicate that Beasley wants a multi-year deal, likely in the three-year range. The Jets have over $100 million in cap-space to utilize, so bringing him on is not out of the question. A three-year deal worth $30 million might suffice, but guaranteeing $20 million might present bad margins for the Jets.

I could see three-year, $30 million with $12 million guaranteed as a realistic option.

New York Giants: Why It Is Inexplicable, Inexcusable, and Incompetent To Not Franchise Tag Landon Collins

New York Giants, Landon Collins

On Monday afternoon, teams all around the NFL used their franchise tag on their best impending free agents, except for the New York Giants. The Texans used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney, the Chiefs used the franchise tag on Dee Ford, and the Seahawks used the tag on Frank Clark.

All of these teams used the tag on their best defensive player. The deadline to use the franchise tag is March 5th at 4:00 p.m. A report by Ian Rapoport surfaced on Monday revealing that the New York Giants do not plan on using their franchise tag on their own best defensive player, strong safety Landon Collins.

Now, typically, I write my articles in a very objective way. I do not use the first-person narrative like I am right now, and I do not give my opinion. I usually just present the facts, rumors, and reports, then explain what it means for the Giants.

However, this is a special case. The Giants’ choosing to not use the franchise tag on Landon Collins has set the majority of the fanbase off into a feeling of vicious anger. It has also lead many fans to lose hope in general manager Dave Gettleman. So, allow me to be the voice of the people.

What Is The Franchise Tag?

Franchise tags are tools that allow NFL teams to keep would-be free agents for one year. The player’s guaranteed salary for that one season is attractive — the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position, or 120 percent of his prior year’s salary — but such a tag provides the player no long-term security.

In 2019, the franchise tag’s price for the safety position is $11,150,000. Apparently, the Giants think that is too pricey for the best player on their defense. This is coming from the general manager who admitted his defense was terrible and vowed to improve it in the offseason.

Letting your best defensive player walk for nothing does not make your team better in any way. If the Giants do not think Collins is that talented of a player, they do not have to sign him to a long-term extension. In fact, it would be wise of them not to if they do not believe in him as a franchise player. But it would be the bare minimum for the Giants to place the franchise tag on Landon Collins.

Explaining The Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag:

There are three types of franchise tags. The non-exclusive franchise tag, the exclusive franchise tag, and the transition tag.

When a player is placed on the non-exclusive franchise tag, they have the opportunity to gain two first-round picks as compensation if the player leaves. The non-exclusive franchise tag allows other teams to make contract offers to Landon Collins and allows the Giants to match these offers if they so desire. If the Giants do not want to match the offer, Collins goes to the team whose offer he accepts and the Giants receive two first-round picks as compensation.

That is just one way for the Giants to receive compensation for Landon Collins. Collins has a reported trade value of a third-round pick. Prior to the 2018 trade deadline, the Giants shopped Collins in hopes of receiving a second-round pick. They were offered a third-round pick but declined the offer.

Why Using A Franchise Tag Is A No-Brainer:

If the Giants did not plan on keeping Landon Collins around in the future, why did they not accept the third-round pick at the trade deadline? What sense is there in letting a star player walk with nothing in return?

It is not too late for the Giants to get something in return for Collins. They could if they wanted to, but they are choosing not to. This is just inexplicable.

If the Giants want to move on from Collins, they should still place the franchise tag on him. When signed to a franchise tag, the Giants have the ability to trade Collins. Without a doubt, a team would trade for him. Offenses were scoring at a record-setting rate in 2018. Everyone is looking for help on defense (except for the Giants, for some reason).

Collins will have a “significant market” if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Even if Landon did not become an unrestricted free agent, he would still have a huge market. A team would trade for him. The Giants could still get their third-round pick for Collins, which would be a huge addition considering they do not have a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Why Landon Collins Is Worth The Salary Cap Number:

Maybe Collins is not deserving of a long-term extension with about $11 million annually. That opinion could be validly argued. But when you look at the rest of the Giants’ roster, I can not figure out why they think this price is too high. Collins is a former all-pro safety. He is the most consistent player on the Giants’ defense. Yet he is not worthy of about $11 million.

However, Gettleman thinks Alec Ogletree is worth being the third-highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL. Gettleman is fine paying Ogletree $11,750,000 in 2019, but he cannot find the money to pay Landon Collins. Alec Ogletree was Pro Football Focus’s 81st ranked linebacker in the NFL in 2018 with an overall grade of 50.7. He was the second lowest graded player on the Giants in 2018, but he will make $11,750,000 next season.

Landon Collins was the third-highest graded player on the Giants’ defense in 2018 with a grade of 70.4. This overall grade is also much higher than the Giants’ highest-paid player in 2019.

Dave Gettleman’s Mismanagement Of The Salary Cap

Eli Manning is set to make $23,200,000 in 2019. He had an overall PFF grade of 64.3 in 2018, making him the 31st ranked quarterback in the NFL. There are only 32 teams in the NFL. Compare this to Collins’s third-highest defensive grade on the Giants, and lack of a contract with the team.

I love Eli Manning as much as the next guy, but Dave Gettleman cannot justify paying Manning that salary and yet whine that the franchise tag price for Collins is too high. Cutting the 38-year-old Eli Manning saves $17 million in cap space. At the very least, the Giants could negotiate Manning into a pay-cut to free some cap space. That is the missing money for Collins.

Believe me when I say this: Eli Manning is my favorite football player of all time and he is the reason I am a Giants fan. But this does not change the fact that his contract is hurting the rest of the Giants. Especially when they refuse to pay star players due to limited cap space.

Eli Manning is a franchise hero. But 21 passing touchdowns does not cut it in today’s NFL. Jerry Reese failed Manning. He was unable to build a solid roster around Eli when he was in his prime. This is a fact, however, that time is gone. Eli is not in his prime anymore. The Giants do not need to pay him like he is in his prime, especially if it means letting talented players walk out the door with nothing in return.

Cutting Eli Manning frees up $17 million. Releasing backup tight end Rhett Ellison frees up $3.25 million. Cutting edge rusher Olivier Vernon frees up $11.5 million. That is $31.75 million freed up right there to put the Giants at roughly $58 million which is more than enough to make moves while franchise tagging Landon Collins.

New York Giants: Cutting Three players Could Double Giants’ Cap-Space

The New York Giants will enter the 2019 free agency season with about $27 million in cap space and $9.9 in dead cap money (ranking 4th highest in the league in dead cap amount). The team will need to allocate about $8 million toward rookies from the 2019 NFL draft class.

The Giants need to make some ballsy moves to clear up space:

For the Giants to make an impact in free agency, they will inevitably need to clear up some cap by cutting several players that carry over expensive contracts. Players like Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, Eli Manning, and Rhett Ellison all represent potential cap-cuts unless they can either be traded or restructure their contract.

Realistically, the chances of general manager Dave Gettleman cutting Jenkins are slim, simply because the secondary is already thin and Jenkins is one of the best corners in the game when playing at a high level. His performance has fluctuated based on the team’s success.

The three players that ultimately make the most sense to be cut are Vernon, Manning, and Ellison. At $27 million in cap, Vernon’s departure would open up $11.5 million. He’s due to make $19.5 million in 2019 with $8 million in dead cap. There’s an out in his contract this year that would add a ton of money towards potential free agents.

Manning, on the other hand, is due $23.2 million in 2019. Cutting him would leave $6.2 in dead cap, but the team would save $17 million. Rhett Ellison is scheduled to earn $5.75 million and if cut would count $2.5 million in dead money. The Giants would save $3.25 million. The one-year deal signed by Scott Simonson could indicate the departure of Ellison.

Overall, Gettleman could save $31.75 million by cutting these three players. That would give the Giants $58.75 million to spend in free agency.

What could the New York Giants do with that type of cap room?

That type of room would enable the usage of the franchise tag on Landon Collins and the signing of a quality free safety. It would also provide enough money to sign a potential right tackle. All three of those additions would cost about $28 million.

Obviously, these moves would indicate that the Giants draft a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. It’s expected that they are looking heavily into Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and potentially Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray. It’s also not out of the question that Cardinal’s quarterback Josh Rosen might be available for the right price.

If the Giants could grab Rosen, they could draft a stud defender and have their franchise quarterback on a rookie deal.

New York Yankees: Left Field Position Shaking Out – Clint Frazier Not Involved

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin

At the start of spring training, it was expected that outfielder Clint Frazier would earn a starting role in the New York Yankees outfield. Thus far, it seems as if that narrative has been shut down by manager Aaron Boone.

Frazier is expected to start in Triple-A while he regains his form and adapts to the professional game. During Grapefruit League play, Clint has three hits in 14 at-bats, including a single, two doubles, and two walks. He also struck out four times.

The Yankees need to give Clint Frazier time:

It will take some time for Frazier to pick up where he left off and progress to a point where the Yankees can trust him at the top level. For the time being, it seems as if Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton will split time in left field. Gardner is 2-for-5 at the plate with two homers and a walk. Stanton has one hit in nine at-bats with one RBI and three walks. He has struck out twice, a seemingly regular occurrence for the slugger.

It’s clear that the outfield will consist regularly of Aaron Hicks at center and Aaron Judge in right field. I predict that Gardner and Stanton will split time in left, as Giancarlo will DH a fair amount.

Gardner represents the better defensive option with his speed and familiarity with the position. My only concern is Gardy’s offensive production which has fallen off in recent years. Last season in the AL Wild Card game against the Athletics, Boone chose Andrew McCutchen over the veteran in left field, which was a telling indication of his decline.

The New York Yankees will need to trust Gardner despite his lack of production:

Overall, Gardner slashed .236/.322/.368 over 609 plate appearances in 2018. His .690 OPS ranked last in the MLB among left fielders with a minimum of 500 played appearances.

That will be the big question heading into the season – can Garnder be consistent at the plate in what is likely his final season as a Yankee? Frazier simply isn’t ready to take on a starting role just yet, so the team will have to either commit to Stanton as a full-time fielder or elect to utilize their resilient leader.

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton’s Biggest Challenge Since Coming To NY

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

If there’s one thing New York Yankees fans are privileged with it’s reaching the postseason. The expectation for the games most illustrious club has maintained itself at a steady ALDS appearance. Anything less is unacceptable and GM Brian Cashman’s head must be claimed as a repercussion.

But, one thing we often forget is that a majority of teams don’t make the playoffs, and some don’t even get close. When slugger Giancarlo Stanton featured on the Miami Marlins he never even got a whiff of the sweet taste of postseason victory. Not until he became a soldier in Pinstripes did he ever experience the greatness beyond.

A negative impact on the game:

Unfortunately for him, he contributed towards the offensive collapse against the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 ALDS. On the season, he slashed .266/.343/.509 with 38 home runs, 100 RBI and 211 strikeouts in 617 at-bats.

His strikeout rate is what really concerned me during his first season in the Bronx. It’s only fair we give him a little slack as it was his inaugural season on a competitive team and he was trounced by players like Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar in regard to effectiveness at the plate.

Stanton described his playoff experience:

“Every single game, those wins or losses were huge for the season,” Stanton said. “It’s different coming in when you lose three in a row [with a losing team] and it doesn’t really matter, then you lose three in a row [with a winning team] and something’s got to pop off. That’s really the difference.”

Adapting to the American League takes some time, and now that Stanton has become acclimated with some of the teams and their pitchers, he will likely see a boost in batting efficiency.

“Got one year in the division, in the league under my belt,” Stanton said. “Things are more comfortable now in terms of facing some of these guys and teams again more often.”

The film doesn’t lie for New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone:

Aaron Boone addressed Stanton’s comments and what they saw on film. He mentioned that as the $325 million man saw pitchers more, his contact and batting average at the plate increased. It’s almost as if he’s learning their tendencies on the fly. Boone stated that Stanton picks up on pitchers faster than the average player, which probably contributed to his MVP accolade in 2017.

While his adaptation is impressive, strikeouts remain a significant issue and will likely plague him for another season. The boos will rain down from the bleachers and he will walk silently back to the dugout to the comfort of his teammates. Life isn’t easy for a player that lives and dies on the home run, especially in one of the most hostile sports markets in the world.