New York Yankees: Setting The Wrong Records

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

The New York Yankees have set a new MLB record, but it’s by no means the one that they wanted to set.

They sent a record 29th different player to the IL this season when Gio Urshela added his name to the list on Friday with a groin strain. From guys like Urshela all the way to the big guns like Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius have spent time on the IL.

To fill Urshela’s roster spot, Luke Voit was activated and in the lineup on Friday.

The Big Picture

The way that the Yankees are going, they will win the AL East and clinch it sooner rather than later. Even with all of these injuries, they should be able to coast down the final stretch.

Hopefully in a September where the Yankees shouldn’t have as much pressure, more guys can get healthy before the postseason.

It may take players a bit extra to come back because all of their rehab will take place with the actual Yankees. They won’t be able to make rehab appearances because the minor league season ends on Monday.

Since the Yankees are well on their way to a division title, postseason healthiness is key. Everyone that has worn the pinstripes this year has made some type of positive impact to the team, but soon it will be time for guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Luis Severino to be back and be dominant. Both players, along with Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery are nearing a return.

If guys come back soon and healthy, the Yankees will have an absolutely stacked playoff roster.

 

New York Giants could pursue several quality veteran linebackers

Should the New York Giants look into linebacker, Shane Ray?

The New York Giants have a deficiency at the linebacker position. With just Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis locking down the middle of the defense, any injuries or inconsistent play could be detrimental to the success fo the team.

Veteran BJ Goodson has fallen down the depth chart and could be cut due to his inability to fit into defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme. He prefers more athletic linebackers that can successfully blitz the quarterback but also drop back in coverage.

The New York Giants could take a flier on several veterans:

The Oakland Raiders released LB Brandon Marshall on Friday morning, making him an attractive option for team’s looking to add one of the league’s top cover linebackers. Before his injury, he was considered as such, but he’s hit a few snags in his recovery.

Marshall has used all of training camp to bounce back and could be in good shape to join a team looking to utilize his talents. His surgically repaired knee would need to pass medical clearance, but his impact is proven, and the Giants could use a player of his quality.

Also, former Denver Broncos defender Shane Ray could also fit the bill. The former first-round pick is three-years removed from an eight sack, 21 QB hit season.

The Giants could kick the tires on both defenders, but their price tag might hinder the ability for general manager Dave Gettleman to bite. The lack of depth at the position for Big Blue is a cause for concern, and I believe Marshall is the better option here despite both players having their fair share of weaknesses at the moment.

Ray could be a substitute for Kareem Martin, outside linebacker for the Giants, who has failed to make a significant impact since signing with the team last offseason.

New York Mets: Mets Swept by the Cubs

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

A series which started with so much hope slowly became a series full of misery as the Cubs squashed any hope the Mets had of a postseason birth. The Cubs came into Citi Field and swept all three games of the series with all three of the Mets aces pitching in each game.

The Bats Disappoint

The Mets could never get anything going against Yu Darvish and Jon Lester who both held the Mets to one run in their starts. When the Mets bats actually decided to hit, it came trying to close a 10-1 deficit when there was too much ground to make up. As usual when Jacob deGrom pitched Thursday night in a must win game, the Mets did not score enough for him.

deGrom looked like he was going to provide the Mets with the key start he needed to keep the Mets in the race, but a key three-run home run from Victor Carotin spoiled all hopes. Two bad pitches from deGrom ruined what was otherwise a typical deGrom start.

Can They Rebound?

Losing the final game with their ace on the mound was the final knockout punch on the Mets season. The Mets are five games out with 29 to play and it is hard to think there is any reason for the Mets to make the postseason. The only chance the Mets have is to play flawless baseball and they have not done anything close to that during their six game losing streak. Think we can effectively put the nail in the 2019 Mets coffin.

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett wants the Rookie of the Year

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

New York Knicks fans finally cheered on draft night when they heard RJ Barrett’s name.  Barrett wanted to come to New York and the city has welcomed him with open arms.

Now that Barrett is a Knick, he is ready to get to work.  He has his eyes on winning Rookie of the Year.  “Rookie of the Year is definitely important.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I was a kid”, Barrett said in a interview with SNY’s Stefan Bondy.

When the most recent class of NBA rookies took their rookie survey, Barrett only received two votes for ROY.  He said, “Being the Canadian kid, I’ve kind of been doubted my whole life.  So I’m just used to it now.”  Barrett did not receive any other votes from his rookies in any category.  Sad.

Barrett did mention that no one is going to remember that survey.  But, he is going to use not receiving any votes, for basically everything, as fuel for his career.

Being doubted is probably the best thing for a young 19-year-old in the NBA.  Well, New York fans aren’t doubting him, but others are.  If anything, Knicks fans have Barrett’s back more than any other rookie since Patrick Ewing.

As long as he has the support of the Knicks faithful, that’s all he should care about. He got more support from his ecstatic demeanor on draft night when chosen by the Knicks.  Having the support of Knicks fans is like having his own mini army.  Fans will go to battle for him.

You can expect great things from someone with Barrett’s athletic ability and determination.  You never hear a player, let alone a 19-year-old rookie, saying they want to play in New York.  That takes guts.  Imagine if Barrett exceeds expectations.  He could be a Knicks legend.

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett Gives PUMA a Potential Big Market Star

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks‘ third overall pick RJ Barrett inked a multiyear endorsement deal with PUMA. The deal gives the footwear and apparel brand an opportunity to develop its first big market superstar.

The NBA and signature shoes are a match made in heaven, quite frankly in today’s culture, you’ll find some way somehow to associate one with the other. All the big shoe and apparel companies have a superstar or superstars that are synonymous with the brands they endorse.

Nike has LeBron James and Kevin Durant among many, even before that they boasted arguably the greatest player of all-time in Michael Jordan (which eventually morphed into the popular Jordan Brand of today). Adidas today has James Harden, and Under Armour’s biggest brand recognition is undoubtedly Stephen Curry.

Does PUMA now have its first superstar in the making with New York Knicks’ rookie RJ Barrett? Granted its early to make such a bold claim, but the path is right there.

Of course, RJ Barrett would not be the first big-name or star player to sport PUMA in the apparel company’s history. Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier was the original endorser of the brand. It just so happens that Frazier is a New York Knicks icon. In a way, Barrett signing with PUMA is a process of coming full circle for the brand.

The newly reinvented apparel company that is looking to venture into the basketball shoe culture has a catalog of young players. Last year’s top two picks DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley are part of the brand. Michael Porter Jr could be in for a breakout season.

But the difference between the three aforementioned young players and RJ Barett is that the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, and Denver Nuggets don’t reside in your stereotypical big markets. Sure, on the court any of those teams (well…maybe slow down on the Suns) are in much better shape on the court in comparison to the Knicks.

But let’s face it, New York is…well…New York. Madison Square Garden is still the “Mecca.” And despite the Brooklyn Nets seemingly ready to take over NYC with their product on the court, there is a reason that the Knicks are still the highest valued NBA franchise. (Forbes)

They still command the market that is the Big Apple. The product on the court may not be doing them any favors, but the Knicks name and brand has been and may always be synonymous with New York. And that is likely why Puma’s global director of brand and marketing iterated, “We’ve had our eyes on him for a long time, going back to before last year.” (ESPN)

Now, as the highest draft pick the New York Knicks and PUMA has seen in a while, RJ Barrett has an opportunity ahead of him. He can be the fulcrum for turning this franchise around. Barrett can spearhead the transition of matching the on-court product with the market surrounding it.

RJ Barrett knows this, PUMA knows this, and that is why they signaled a mutual understanding by signing on the dotted line.

New York Yankees: Edwin Encarnacion Nears Return, Boone Says Sooner Than Later

New York Yankees, Edwin Encarnacion

New York Yankees slugger Edwin Encarnacion went down with a fractured wrist after being hit with a pitch earlier this month against the Boston Red Sox. The injury looked identically to Aaron Judge’s injury which sidelined him for roughly six weeks. However, recent reports indicate that Encarnacion is on his way soon.

Encarnacion has resumed baseball activities where he participated in throwing and fielding drills a few days ago. He’s also been hitting in the cage this week. Manager Aaron Boone has indicated that he should be back sooner rather than later. Although Boone wasn’t able to prove specifics he said, “Expect him back soon… he’s not too far off.”

The 36-year-old veteran will have to see live pitching before he begins a rehab assignment. He’ll most likely take live at-bats to make sure he’s okay to step back in a real game. Boone talked about this saying, “Hopefully he’ll start to see some pitching here pretty soon and feel like he’ll be an option in here.”

Encarnacion was one of the focal points in the New York Yankees’ offense this season. Prior to this injury, he was batting .240 with 30 home runs. Not much of a singles guy, the Yankees mainly added him earlier this season because of his pop. In his 36 games this season wearing pinstripes, Encarnacion is slashing .238/.327/.497. He’ll most likely alternate the DH spot with Luke Voit during the postseason.

Other New York Yankees players that are expected to return soon are Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, and Luke Voit.

New York Yankees: Dellin Betances Nearing Rehab Assignment

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances

The New York Yankees have not seen their “go-to” guy Dellin Betances throw from a major league mound this season. The 31-year-old endured a lat injury during spring training and has been sidelined all year.

Betances has made great process recently. He threw in a live batting practice session with no issues on Wednesday, where he’s expected to throw another simulated game Saturday. Betances said, “I felt fine today, so I was happy with that.”

Not only has Betances been hurt physically this season, but mentally he’s struggled as well. He’s talked about how he’s been hesitant if he should trust the area (lat) being good to go. Betances added, “This is the first time being hurt in the big leagues. It’s been frustrating, but the fun part is about to start, so I’ll be back for that.”

The New York Yankees intend to have Betances begin a rehab assignment if his next simulated game completes with no issues. There’s hope that the right-hander will be back wearing pinstripes in the bullpen for mid-September.

Betances should be working up to around 25-30 pitches which is roughly two-to-three innings worth. The Yankees might have him work up his innings in the major leagues since the September 1st deadline for roster expansion is approaching quickly.

Betances’ teammate Luis Severino has also been sidelined all year long. He’s been making strong process in his rehab and is expected to have a rehab start this weekend in Scranton. The return of both players would ultimately aid the Yankees as they seek their 29th championship.

How the New York Knicks can make the playoffs next season

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

While the New York Knicks failed to entice any superstar players to bring their talents to Madison Square Garden, they did manage to bring in several capable veterans that can help develop the young players on the team. Losing out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving likely wrote the word “contention” out of the dictionary for a team that has struggled immensely for quite some time.

However, nothing is impossible and players like Julius Randle and Marcus Morris can surely make an impact and help the Knicks reach the playoffs once again. It will take a “Judgian” effort, for lack of a better term.

For the Knicks to make the playoffs during the 2019-20 season, the veterans will play an integral part in elevating the team through leadership and efficiency. A majority of the squad is inexperienced and youthful, which will force the Knicks to adapt to a different style of play. Randall and Morris will represent the two veteran scoring options that will be earning significant playing time.

The New York Knicks will rely on their youth:

Ultimately, it comes down to how fast RJ Barrett and second-year players Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, and Kevin Knox reach a point of solidarity and productivity.  All four players need to contribute in some facet and make an impact on a daily basis for the team to have playoff aspirations.

Barrett struggled during Summer League play this off-season, while Knox showed better vision on the court and more aggressiveness towards the rim. Robinson seems to be improving an astronomical rate and looks the best of the group at this point. Trier is an isolation scorer who is been working on his three-point shot, which will be extremely beneficial throughout the course of the season.

One player that I think will have a surprising impact is Ignas Brazdeikis. The Michigan product was the first rookie to score 30-points during the Summer League this season, also tallying eight rebounds in the same game. He’s an exciting finisher that played just one season in college before taking his talents to the NBA. At just 20-years-old, Brazdeikis is full of potential and optimism.

For the Knicks to make the playoffs they need to score…A LOT. Their defense will likely be the primary deficiency on the team, despite having a prolific shot blocker in Robinson. Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. also must have a fantastic season, as a dud from him would cripple to the Knicks. He’s been working on his jump-shot all summer and should see a better field-goal percentage.

 

New York Giants veteran linebacker saves job with one massive play

New York Giants, B.J. Goodson

While the New York Giants finished off the preseason 4-0 with a victory against the New England Patriots on Thursday night, linebacker BJ Goodson certainly elevated his game.

The veteran linebacker was a fringe-roster player before the matchup but proved he can still be a productive player on the defense with five tackles and one sack in just the first quarter of the game.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher prefers more athletic linebackers that have better instinctual attributes, as Goodson is a slower linebacker that can sometimes take longer to get to the ball-carrier than preferred. However, he made one stellar play against the Pats that might have saved him from being cut.

Some believed that Nate Stupar would earn the nod ahead of Goodson when it came to roster cuts, but it’s becoming clear that both can stick and serve a purpose next season. The experience the Clemson product brings to the defense and the familiarity with Bettcher’s scheme can’t be replaced, despite a faster, more flexible option being more ideal.

On the play above, Goodson shoots through the gap untouched for the sack. He put on the after-burners and reached the quarterback to force a second-and-long play that ultimately led to a punt.

Who else is fighting for playing time on the New York Giants?

The only other legitimate competition at the linebacker position is rookie, Ryan Connelly. The Wisconsin product has made waves this preseason with his quickness and ability to shoot gaps with precision. It will take time for him to adapt to the speed and physicality of the NFL, especially with a lack of size, but he can develop into a quality player that starts regular on the defense.

I anticipate Connelly acting as the reserve option behind Tae Davis (money-backer), due to his ability to operate in coverage but also play close to the line of scrimmage.

New York Yankees escape serious injury to star player

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

The 2019 regular season for the New York Yankees has been plagued by injuries to vital contributing players. Escaping the injury bug has been a struggle, but lesser players have risen to the occasion to help supplement the team’s unfortunate losses.

However, another star player went down on Wednesday night. Third baseman Gio Urshela left the game with groin tightness, an injury that doesn’t seem too significant but can be lengthy. The groin muscle is susceptible and is needed for most basic baseball activities. While Urshela left the game with the ailment, it seems as if he escaped without suffering anything long-term.

“I think he is OK, just got a little tight in the groin so want to be safe with that and hopefully it is something that is not a big deal,’’ manager Aaron Boone said, according to the NY Post:

The starting infielder felt his groin tighten up running to first base after a single at the middle. He believes that the injury won’t stop him from playing on Friday against the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees head into a three-game series in the Bronx.

Positive injury news for the infield:

Starting shortstop Didi Gregorius suffered a bone bruise against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, but his return is imminent he acted as a pinch-hitter for Geo in the sixth inning Wednesday after the third baseman was forced out. The Yankees went on to win the game 7-3.

The Yankees need their infield to be healthy for the final push of the regular season. Heading into the playoffs, it’s essential they have their best defenders and hitters in the lineup. With one of the best records in baseball, they must continue with their momentum and gaining back pitchers Luis Severino, and Dellin Betances will be significant to their future success.