New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers Open To Being Two Way Player

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

It doesn’t seem like the New York Giants are quite desperate enough to start playing defensive players on offense just yet, but if the team does want to head in that direction, it looks like they have one player that already has experience doing such and would be perfectly willing to jump into the offense. That’s, of course, one of the newest additions to the team, Jabrill Peppers.

Peppers was acquired from the Browns in the trade sending Odell Beckham Jr. there, and was a multi position player in high school as well as one that the Michigan Wolverines experimented with moving around. Peppers had much hype coming into college related to his ability to play on both sides of the ball but it was largely something that was downplayed over time as Peppers ended up settling into the safety spot, where he carved out a starting spot with the Browns and where it looks like he’ll play with the Giants.

Still, that doesn’t mean Peppers has forgotten his former skillset. “I think I could do whatever I put my mind to,” he said to NJ Advance Media about the subject of playing on offense as a two way player. “Guys might not have gotten chance, and guys might not want to because now it’s about making your career last as long as possible so you reap the fruits of your labor.”

“I definitely think there are guys that can do it. But will they do it? Will they want to do it? Will the team make them do it? Especially if they are key guys. It’s all up in the air. It depends on a lot — the type of system and type of franchise,” Peppers added.

The Giants would have to be rather desperate to play a safety on offense but that doesn’t seem like an option that’s completely out of the question still, mainly because of the team’s numerous problems so far at the wide receiver position. With Sterling Shepard potentially coming into week one close off a fractured thumb, Corey Coleman out with a torn ACL, and Golden Tate staring down a four game suspension for a substance violation, the team could use some more options.

Will Peppers be one of those options? We’ll see. The Giants are, after all, almost to the point where making desperate moves like that may be the reasonable option.

New York Yankees: Voit And Hale To The IL

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

In case you missed it, the New York Yankees placed first baseman Luke Voit and reliever David Hale on the 10 day injured list.  Voit is on the IL with a sports hernia, and Hale is on with a lumbar strain.

Yankee skipper Aaron Boone didn’t have much concern about Hale, saying he should be back in no time. But things get a bit more complicated with Voit.

The team is in a 24-48 hour waiting period with him to see how the injury repairs itself in that time span. Then, they will look at it again to decide if he will need surgery. If he does, he likely wouldn’t be healthy again until the postseason. If results come back clean, he should be ready once the 10 days end

Voit sustained the injury on a swing in Tuesday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. We don’t know exactly how Hale was injured.

Recalls

To fill the two roster spots, the team has recalled Breyvic Valera and Jonathan Holder from AAA.

Valera is a versatile infielder who the team claimed off of waivers early in the season from the Giants, then proceeded to rake in AAA. Valera appeared in a Yankee uniform last time Voit was sidelined by an injury, so in mid-July.

Holder is still a work in progress after his poor start to 2019, but has fired a scoreless major league inning since initially being sent down in June.

It’s good that Hale should be back soon because he has made a quiet but great impact in the bullpen. Losing Voit for the rest of the season could be devastating, and here’s to hoping for positive results.

New York Giants: Rookie Corey Ballentine Impressing During Camp

The New York Giants‘ secondary has been one of the league’s worst over the past two years. In 2017, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.4 passing yards per game (ranked 31st in the NFL). In 2018, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.8 passing yards (ranked 23rd in the NFL), showing minimal to no improvement.

For this reason, the Giants made it a point of emphasis to fix the secondary in 2019. The Giants did just that in the 2019 NFL Draft. New York drafted three defensive backs in the 2019 NFL Draft (four if counting Sam Beal).

In the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected underrated cornerback prospect Corey Ballentine. Ballentine played at a small school (Washburn) so he slipped through the cracks. Fortunately, he fell to the Giants in round six. So far, Corey has looked like a steal for New York.

Training Camp Highlights

Corey Ballentine has shown up to play in training camp. The sixth-round rookie out of Washburn is turning heads already. Head coach Pat Shurmur took the time to praise the rookie post-practice on Tuesday:

Corey Ballentine is getting better with each and every practice. On Tuesday, Ballentine came away with an interception against rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. This is his highlight of camp so far. Daniel Jones had not thrown an interception all of training camp until this play:

This was not Ballentine’s first interception of training camp either. On Saturday, the Giants’ first padded practice of the summer, Ballentine came away with an interception against Kyle Lauletta. Giants.com named Corey one of Saturday’s standouts.

Corey Ballentine is very physical at the line of scrimmage and smooth in coverage. He was an outstanding player during his time at Washburn. In college, Corey Ballentine appeared in 46 games tallying 186 tackles with 113 solo stops and 10 tackles for loss adding the four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and had five interceptions.

The Giants have seen a solid amount of production so far from Corey Ballentine, considering he was a sixth-round draft pick. If the rookie can carry on his great play from training camp into the regular season, New York will see even more young talent make an impact in their rebuilt secondary.

New York Knicks: Where does Damyean Dotson fit into the Knicks’ plans?

New York Knicks, Damyean Dotson

The New York Knicks have a lot of guards fighting for playing time this season, finding out how to utilize them all will be tricky.

One of the guards that played a big role once Kristaps Porzingis was traded was Damyean Dotson. ‘Dot’ was geared up to have an even bigger role for this upcoming season. The second-round pick from the 2017 NBA Draft signed a three-year contract that was non-guaranteed for the 2019-20 campaign. The date came and went for the Knicks to let him go and save cap-space, as they elected to keep him around for at least one more season.

However, with the acquisition of RJ Barrett, Reggie Bullock, and Elfrid Payton, Dotson’s playing time could take a hit.

How did Damyean Dotson perform for the New York Knicks in 2019?

Last season, Dotson averaged 27.5 minutes per game. But, after the Porzingis trade, his production increased. He averaged 10.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 40 starts.

The Knicks were relativity bad on the defensive front. They did not have a lockdown defender in their arsenal. Some may consider Frank Ntilikina and some take Dotson. The 25-year-old was a very good defender for the Knicks, stretching the floor and knocking down some timely 3’s when called upon. He shot 37% from beyond the arc.

Dotson will have to fight for minutes like he’s done ever since he came into the league. He does have the defensive ability to require more playing time over other guards, but his offensive production needs to improve if he wishes to steal playing time away from the other options.

As long as he gets more quality time like he got last season while being lockdown defender that can pop 3’s in transition, he’ll earn the playing time he deserves.

New York Yankees Are One of Many Teams Interested in Tanner Roark

The New York Yankees’ search for a starting pitcher before the trade deadline tomorrow continues. Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds is another option on the trade market that could give the Yankees what they are looking for. However, the Yankees are not the only team looking into Roark. The Atlanta Braves and Oakland Athletics join the Yankees’ interest in Roark, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Roark is credited to a 3.95 ERA this season with a 6-6 record. In his seven years in the major leagues, Roark holds a career 3.63 ERA and finished 10th in Cy Young Award voting in 2016 (Baseball Reference).

 

Roark is a crafty right-hander with an arsenal of pitches. He throws a fastball in the low 90s but is also armed with a sinker, slider, changeup, and curveball. He is a strikeout kind of pitcher, where he’s fanned 106 players in 107 innings pitched this season. Roark also consistently goes the distance, throwing at least 5 innings in most games. With the Yankees dominant bullpen, that could be dangerous to opposing offenses.

The right-hander is 32 years old and is currently signed to a 1-year, $10 million deal (Spotrac). He will be eligible for free-agency following this season.

Fits with the Yankees?

I believe Roark could be a good fit with the Yankees. His ability to go the distance with a start is something the Yankees need – especially in October. His arsenal of pitches allows him to keep hitters guessing and off-balance which will fit in with the Yankees strong defense. However the Yankees have said they are not interested in a short-term deal. Roark’s free agency following the 2019 season may raise some flags.

New York Yankees: Why the Starting Rotation is Struggling

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The New York Yankees currently rank 15th overall in MLB pitching statistics (ESPN.com). The rotation is ranked 19th overall, where they are credited to a 4.77 ERA. None of these numbers is something to write home about, which is why general manager Brian Cashman is trying so desperately to add before the July 31st trade deadline.

It is clear that the main problem is the starters are not going the distance. Even though the Yankee bullpen is so dominant, it is evident that because of their overuse their performance is suffering. Besides German’s most recent start, each starting pitcher has not gone farther than four innings in their last outing. Each starter has also allowed more than 5 runs in their last outing, again except for German’s exceptional last start.

Tanaka and Paxton really struggling

Masahiro Tanaka has had a funky year. His 2019 stat line of a 4.79 ERA and a 7-6 record is not his usual self. Part of the reason for his struggles might be that Tanaka’s main pitch, the splitter, has clearly not been the same. According to FanGraphs, Tanaka has used his splitter 5% less than he did last year, dropping from 29.9% to 24.1%. He has mentioned that maybe part of the reason his splitter has not been as effective is to his suspicions of the MLB baseball feeling different this season. Nevertheless, Tanaka was supposed to fill Severino’s role during his absence and has failed to do so.

James Paxton has had a rough July so far. He is currently on a three-game losing streak, in which he let up seven runs to the Boston Red Sox in his last start. Paxton has also not been able to go the distance, where he hasn’t passed 4 innings in his last two starts. Another part of the reason why he has struggled so much this month is that the big fly total has been up. He’s let up eight home runs this month in over 25.1 innings pitched.

Should the New York Knicks give Carmelo Anthony a last hoorah?

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

Should the New York Knicks give Carmelo Anthony the D-Wade treatment?

The New York Knicks went on a spending spree this past offseason to acquire multiple starting level players, despite missing out on superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Marcus Morris and Julius Randle headlined the players signed by the Knicks, but there could be one option remaining on the table that would make the 2019-20 season memorable.

Carmelo Anthony.

The seven-year Knick helped drag the organization to three playoff appearances before taking his talents to Oklahoma City, but he’s now looking to finalize his career with a farewell tour, and the Knicks could be the perfect destination.

Now, Anthony isn’t interested in being a starter, which would likely scare some clubs away. He’s ‘okay’ with coming off the bench and making an impact in any way possible.

The last time Carmelo played in an NBA game was on November 8, 2018. The 10-time NBA All-Star deserves a D-Wade style goodbye to the game he’s dedicated his life to over the years.

NBA trainer extraordinaire Chris Brickley made a recent appearance on “The Breakfast Club,” stating:

Yes, given the situation. Allen Iverson, if you remember. He kind of got, some people say, blackballed. He got into a situation in his career, where teams would be like, ‘oh, he’s gonna want this role, so we’re gonna stay away.’ I think that’s what’s going on with Melo right now. He’s easily better with 60 percent, 70 percent of NBA players walking around. I think teams are afraid of, ‘I want to be the star,’ or ‘I want this.’ That’s not the case, though. Melo just wants to have a final season, farewell season, do what D-Wade did. Do the jersey swap. He had a great career, he’s a Hall of Famer. So hopefully that can happen.

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Anthony played in just ten games for the Rockets last season before deciding to part ways. He still has the offensive capabilities that once highlighted his abilities, but his defensive efforts have surely fallen off. The 35-year-old would certainly come off the bench, but the Knicks might have too much depth and youth to offer Carmelo what he seeks.

 

New York Giants: Why Eli Manning is primed for an above-average 2019 season

New York Giants, Eli Manning

While training camp is never the ideal place to make an assumption, the New York Giants might be in better shape than previously thought. Yes, the wide receiver corps is dwindling to Cody Latimer and co., and the secondary is flush with youth and inexperience, but veteran quarterback Eli Manning looks as sharp as ever.

A majority of Tuesday’s practice focused on the bread and butter of head coach Pat Shurmur’s offense. A ton of screen passes and short throws from Manning. Play-action will be fit into the program as well, but utilizing the separation abilities of receivers like Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate will be the primary focus.

Besides, running back Saquon Barkley will be the focal point with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason. However, Manning won’t be held to dump-offs and shallow crossing routes, which Evan Engram proved with a one-handed snag over the middle that resulted in a touchdown.

Manning, though, has looked very sharp this offseason after admitting he changed his workout program to fit the competition of Daniel Jones. The more experienced quarterback owned the red-zone drills, and it seems as if Manning’s competitiveness has once again re-entered the picture.

Eli Manning:

Overall stats: 12-of-15 passing with two touchdowns

11-on-11 red zone stats: 3-for-4 passing with two touchdowns

What will help the New York Giants offense the most?

While Manning has looked good, the offensive line will be the catalyst behind his success. Adding Kevin Zeitler at right guard and Mike Remmers at right tackle should provide more time in the pocket. Eli has been plagued with inadequate protection in recent years and has developed a few bad habits — happy feet, lack of awareness, too cautious.

More time will enable better reads on his progressions which will not only open up the field for the offense, but it will unveil the next level of Shurmur’s playbook.

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Last season, Manning had one of his best years, thanks to Barkley and a bit of garbage time. A 66 completion percentage marked the highest in his 15-year career, and 92.4 passer rating was his best since 2015. This indicates he still has some gas left in the tank.

Barkley going into his second season and the offensive line improving should be enough to see Manning beat his 2018 numbers.

 

New York Yankees looking into Zack Greinke ahead of trade deadline?

New York Yankees interested in Zack Greinke?

As the July 31 trade deadline creeps up on the New York Yankees, the pressures of finding a starting pitcher are increasing dramatically. The last decent start for the Bombers was on Sunday by CC Sabathia, but he’s since been placed on the 10-day injured list.

With the Blue Jays trading ace Marcus Stroman, the market for quality pitchers took a small hit, but there are still plenty of avenues the Yankees can explore.

One remaining target is Diamondbacks’, Zack Greinke. The 2009 CY Young award winner is having a vintage season. The righty holds a 10-4 record and a 2.87 ERA in 22 starts, and 141 innings pitched. The fact is, Greinke is one of the more consistent pitchers in the league, and that reality alone should make him a top target for the Yanks.

In the last two seasons, he’s eclipsed 200 innings while posting ERAs of 3.20 and 3.21, respectively.

Adding the likes, Greinke would immediately help a struggling rotation that’s littered with inefficient pitchers. After robust campaigns from both James Paxton and J.A. Happ in 2018, nobody expects them to regress to this point.

However, the Yankees would have to give up valuable assets in a Greinke-centric deal. Players such as Deivi Garcia, Miguel Andujar, and Clint Frazier would all have to be on the table if the Yankees even want to approach the Diamondbacks with an offer.

What issue would the New York Yankees face?

In the scenario that the Bombers do acquire Greinke, they would be on the hook for his massive contract. Earning a six-year, $206.5 million contracts in 2015, Zack is still owed $31.5 million this season, plus $32 million in 2020 and 21′. Committing to that type of salary requires some caution, as he’s heading into the back-half of his career and could see a drop-off. However, two more seasons shouldn’t see him degrade that much, and joining a contender might fuel him even further.

 

New York Giants: Dexter Lawrence Ready To Take Versatile Role

New York Giants defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.

The New York Giants training camp has been filled with injury news so far, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been good spots. It’s the first chance to see the team’s rookies playing in pads before the preseason and also provides the first real indications of the direction that the team is moving this season. That group of rookies includes one high profile player on the defensive line, who despite having a rookie status, will be expected to take one of the biggest roles early on.

That’s, of course, Dexter Lawrence. The Clemson rookie is coming in after a season where the Giants moved on from Damon Harrison midseason, and an offseason where Olivier Vernon was traded to the Browns. The season may come out better due to the changes, but the Giants are going to look very different regardless, and it looks like the Giants spent a first round pick on Lawrence mainly to help fill the gaps left at the position of defensive line.

But the Giants don’t have one set position for Lawrence yet, at least at this point during training camp.

“At Clemson, I was stuck inside a little bit, now I’m getting do all of it. There’s a lot of different opportunities. I don’t feel the difference. I feel comfortable all throughout the line and don’t feel a difference between the positions,” Lawrence said during training camp.

While Lawrence’s main position at Clemson was defensive tackle, being a top DT in college is no guarantee of doing the same thing in the NFL. With college players generally being smaller, it’s not uncommon to see college defensive tackles moved around while entering the league.

“I was pretty much a three-down player there, too. It’s nothing new. It’s just a new scheme that I have to learn, it’s all about regrouping and seeing how you can learn the defense a lot better to know how you can get after the offensive line,” Lawrence added.

The Giants have also experimented with fitting Lawrence into different schemes. “They’re working me in in base, dime and nickel. I’m expecting to be used all three downs.”

Lawrence seems like one of the likeliest rookies on the team this year to get significant playing time – that might be a good thing considering the Giants’ recent losses over the past couple seasons at the position. We’ll see as training camp continues whether Lawrence does indeed look like a player that can be a worthy replacement of Harrison.