Three Offseason Trades For The New York Giants

New York Giants, Nate Solder

There’s still plenty of football left in the season, but for New York Giants fans, not all of it is meaningful. While the team technically isn’t eliminated from the playoffs at the time of this article, it’s already a foregone conclusion that the most exciting time for fans won’t be the games coming up near the end of the year but rather the 2020 offseason, a chance for the Giants to make some progress – something they’ve largely failed to do on the field this year.

Trades will be one part of that. The current roster hasn’t worked out, as everyone has been able to see, and changes are going to be needed to get back to a winning level. But what changes should the Giants make in specific?

Nate Solder

Solder hasn’t been what the Giants thought he would be when they signed him. If he was getting paid less, his performance would be less of a problem. That isn’t the case, however. Solder is the third highest paid player on the team, and if you remove Eli Manning from the equation due to his move out of a starting role and likely retirement, he’s the second highest paid. He hasn’t performed like one of the best players, however, and that’s where the problem lies.

This offseason, the Giants should free up some cap space and move Solder while he still has some value – there’s a lot of teams that would take a chance on a left tackle that they think can perform solidly for them.  The Giants may as well cash in on that need and continue to look for their long term left tackle. They’re going to be in a rebuilding phase next year anyway.

Janoris Jenkins

Other than Eli Manning, the only player paid more than Solder is Jenkins. Jenkins came into the season with the role of leader for a cornerback group that for the most part is much younger than he is, but with the secondary drawing much criticism this season, that role may just end up given to someone else – probably someone else acquired in the offseason for cheaper.

Jenkins hasn’t justified his pay in the eyes of many fans, and with the Giants fully rebuilding, it may be smart for them to drop the old leader of the cornerback spot and invest in the new. And the team has already flirted with shopping Jenkins. At the trade deadline, most in the winder NFL assumed Jenkins was as good as traded… But nothing happened.

Not many want Jenkins to remain the top corner long term. The Giants should, at this point, pull the trigger and look for a deal.

Evan Engram

Engram still has a lot of potential, and that can’t be denied – but so far, it looks like his career has a low floor. He could recover from his injury problems over the past recent years and become a star for the Giants for years to come, using his receiving talents to burn opposing defenses while stretching the field by adding an extra threat at the tight end position. He could also spend a lot of time hurt and on the bench, and only show flashes of his potential when fully healthy.

It looks like the latter path is more likely, even if Engram hasn’t been stricken from the list of promising prospects just yet. Some other team will almost certainly be willing to offer a decent amount to take on that potential, and risk, for themselves.

If the Giants want to add more sure things to their rebuild, or perhaps draft picks that will allow them to bring in more promising young players, they would benefit from accepting one of those offers and not placing their future prospects at tight end on the shoulders of a player who may not develop as they intend.

New York Giants: DeAndre Baker Looking To Build Off Of Strong Week 12 Performance

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

The New York Giants are coming off of another loss, their 7th in a row. Last week the Giants lost to the Chicago Bears on the road. However, the Giants’ defense had some bright spots in the loss.

Week 12 was rookie free safety Julian Love’s first expanded game action. He did not disappoint coming away with his first career interception. But one young defensive back’s performance was even more encouraging.

Rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker has struggled all season horrifically. His performance against the Bears, however, bucked the trend of poor play.

DeAndre Baker’s Week 12 Performance

Before the Giants’ Week 12 matchup with the Bears, DeAndre Baker was the lowest graded cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. The rookie first-rounder has struggled throughout the season. Baker has the 5th-most yards allowed in his coverage amongst all cornerbacks in the NFL with 629 yards.

Interestingly enough, however, DeAndre Baker did not give up a single yard in coverage in Week 12. The Bears targeted Baker in coverage only twice, but he did not allow a catch. DeAndre played 75% of the team’s defensive snaps. This slightly more limited role seemed to helped Baker settle into his game a bit. Baker shared snaps with Sam Beal.

The Giants’ loss to the Bears was undoubtedly DeAndre Baker’s best performance of the season so far. Sure, it has taken a long time for Baker to have a good game, but at least he has shown some improvement and finally put together a solid outing. Pro Football Focus gave DeAndre Baker an 83.5 overall grade for the game in Chicago.

The Giants’ secondary will have their hands full this week. They will be defending Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense. Rodgers struggled lately but always has the potential to scorch a young and struggling secondary for a big game. DeAndre Baker needs to build on his strong Week 12 performance and continue to develop with another well-played game against the Packers in Week 13.

Can the New York Yankees trust Adam Ottavino in 2020 after a bad postseason?

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

After having a solid regular season with the New York Yankees and dominating, Adam Ottavino was the complete opposite during the postseason. The 34-year-old appeared in 73 games and held a stable 1.90 ERA during the regular season, but got cold in the playoffs and was credited to a whopping 11.57 ERA.

This isn’t the first time Ottavino didn’t perform well in the playoffs. His career postseason era is a 6.43 ERA compared to a career 3.44 ERA in the regular season. In his two years making the playoffs and four total series, he’s only lasted a total of seven innings pitched.

Can Ottavino be trusted for the 2020 season?

It’s important to remember that Ottavino was used in high-leverage situations during the entire regular season and performed at his best. He has the talent and ability to get big outs when needed.

When it comes to the postseason, it could just be a few bad outings during inopportune times. However, it could also be a thing where he struggles in the postseason. Regardless of what it is, his use in high-leverage situations during the playoffs might need to be reevaluated.

I do believe that Ottavino could also use more work before the playoffs. Aaron Boone rested his bullpen a ton leading up to October, and this may not have been the best idea for Ottavino. It seems that he’s a creature of habit and needs consistent work to stay dominate on the mound.

The New York Yankees can trust him during the 2020 season. He’s one of the best relievers in all of baseball and has proved that.

New York Jets Opponent Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

The New York Jets storm into Cincinnati looking for a fourth straight win. This week they get the win-less Bengals.

The New York Jets are set to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Bengals are the worst team in the NFL this season. They have yet to win a game and haven’t looked particularly close to ever winning a game this season. In 11 games this year the Bengals have only held a lead in the second half in four games. They’ve only held a fourth-quarter lead in two games, both of which were in the first three weeks of the season.

There really hasn’t been a game that felt like the Bengals could win on the field this year. Now, they host a New York Jets team that is red-hot having won three in a row and having put up three straight games with 34 points. It would seem like an easy victory for the Jets.

The numbers tend to agree with that assessment. The Bengals are 31st in total offense DVOA, 31st in passing offense DVOA, and 26th in run offense DVOA. Their offense is weak but should get a boost this week with the return of Andy Dalton.

Dalton isn’t the best QB, he’s a solidly average to below-average QB in the league, but he’s worlds better than Ryan Finley has been the past few weeks. That should help the Bengals offense that has relied on Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon to carry them. Which is why the Jets have an incredibly favorable matchup against the Bengals.

Tyler Boyd is the Bengals leading receiver and he’ll be covered by Brian Poole on Sunday. Poole has been one of the elite slot CBs in the NFL ad he’s coming off his best game of the season last Sunday. No slot receiver has had 60 or more yards against the Jets this year, not even Julian Edelman. It’s hard to see Tyler Boyd having a big day.

The Bengals lean heavily on their rushing game, which is led by Joe Mixon. Mixon does his best behind a struggling offensive line but is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Going up against the best rushing defense in the NFL will make that even harder. The Jets have held Saquon Barkley, Adrian Peterson, and Josh Jacobs to a combined 60 yards on 32 carries, that’s just 1.9 yards per carry. Expecting Joe Mixon to perform any better would be foolhardy.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals are just as bad. The Bengals are 30th in total defense DVOA, 31st in pass defense DVOA, and 25th in rush defense DVOA. There is no strength in their defensive game. The Bengals have just 16 sacks this season that’s the second-worst pass rush in the NFL. They’ve also only forced 10 turnovers, which is also second-worst in the NFL.

The only saving grace for the Bengals’ defense is that they do a decent job of holding teams to field goals. The Bengals have the fourth-best Red Zone defense in the NFL. It has helped keep their scoring defense to 26th in the NFL. They go up against a Jets offense that ranks 12th in the NFL in Red Zone scoring offense. It’s a strength on strength.

The one part of the game that the Bengals excel at is special teams, they are first in special teams DVOA. Specifically, the Bengals excel in returning kickoffs. They are the best in the NFL on kick returns. Bengals’ kick returner Brandon Wilson is averaging 32.4 yards per return this season. Meanwhile, the Jets have the best kickoff coverage unit in the NFL.

There is no part of the game that the Bengals have a clear advantage against the Jets. A quick look at the numbers says the Jets should win this game handily. However, anything can happen on any given Sunday. The Jets already lost a game to a win-less team this year losing to another isn’t unthinkable, especially on the road.

They’re just 1-4 on the road with losses to the Dolphins, Jaguars, and the Eagles all of whom are under .500. The Jets only road win this year came against the Redskins two weeks ago. So, while this game looks like an easy win on paper nothing is set in stone.

The Yankees enter the Zack Wheeler sweepstakes, but there’s competition

Will the New York Yankees land Zack Wheeler in free agency?

The Yankees made it apparent that all free agent players are being considered this offseason, even after owner Hal Steinbrenner stated that the starting pitching rotation looked good in 2019 and that he would feel comfortable if the regular season started today.

Here’s the exact quote:

“If the 2020 season was to start tomorrow, I would feel considerably more confident than I did a year ago at this time,’’ Steinbrenner said. “We will have both Severino and Montgomery back. We now know that [Domingo] German can pitch effectively at this level. And we know [James] Paxton can be the guy that we were hoping for when we made that trade. We have [Masahiro] Tanaka, [J.A.] Happ, [Jonathan] Loaisiga, and perhaps [Deivi] Garcia at some point. A very good rotation.’’

A few weeks later, he advocated for the pursuance of all free agents, ensuring his staff would be discussing all potential deals and the value of the player. Starters Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, two of the best pitchers in baseball, dominate the headlines and rumors in regards to a pairing with the Bombers.

Steinbrenner stated in an interview with YES Network that “all options are open,” a bit different than his previous approach earlier on this offseason. However, interest is enough to get excited about, the reality of the Yankees signing Cole or Strasburg, not so much.

Steinbrenner has been willing to open up his checkbook for the outfield. Still, the starting rotation hasn’t seen many resources allocated towards it, so expecting the Yankees to drop over $25 million per season on a long-term deal for a top arm might be far-fetched. Alternatively, they could settle for a second-tier option like Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler, who featured on the New York Mets in 2019, has recorded an 8.9 fWAR over the last two seasons, which ranks as the ninth-best in all of baseball over that period. His career ERA of 3.77 isn’t in the ‘dominant’ range, but it’s better than any Yankee pitched last season.

The free-agent arm utilized his fastball frequently, consistently hitting in the upper-90s, which is precisely the type of pitcher the Yankees prefer. His secondary pitch is his sinker, which he throws nearly equally to his fastball. The sinker doesn’t have the same production as his fastball, but it hasn’t been detrimental to his performances.

There will be plenty of competition for Wheeler, as reports have indicated the Twins, White Sox, and Reds have all begun bidding on his services, with the Sox currently leading the pack with the highest offer, Ken Rosenthal stated with The Athletic.

Wheeler set career-highs in 2019 with 195.1 innings pitched and 195 strikeouts. He will cost far less than both Cole and Strasburg, but the Yankees would still have to pay a pretty penny for his services. Since Luis Severino will be returning in full-capacity, the Bombers anticipate him slotting into the ace position. Having numerous No. 2 options behind him would give them solid depth, especially in the case of injuries.

The Yankees are digging themselves a beautiful hole at shortstop

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Rejecting Didi Gregorius’ qualifying offer was the right thing to do for the New York Yankees, as general manager Brian Cashman decided to take a more cost-effective route in re-securing the shortstop position.

There’s still a chance the Bombers re-sign Gregorius, but the Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly been interested in his services. While Didi was one of the leaders in the locker room and well-liked by the fan-base, his monetary hit is ultimately too high.

With Cashman letting the veteran shortstop walk in free agency, he’s effectively digging himself a beautiful hole filled with potential and spoils. Gleyber Torres is the de-fact option to fill the shortstop position, as he played 73 total contests at the spot last season, earning a .961 fielding percentage with 11 errors. Torres is a more suitable second-baseman at the point, but the plan was always for him to transition to shortstop where he would stay planted for the remainder of his expected lengthy career.

Considering Derek Jeter locked down the position for 20 years, Torres can hope to replicate even half of that elongated success. That would be the ideal scenario for a Yankees team looking to move beyond the Gregorius era and into one of pure youth at impact positions.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was a guest on Mike Francesa’s radio show, stating:

“He showed, clearly, in the absence of Didi last year that we could be a really effective franchise with him at short and DJ LeMahieu at second. It played out well, and that will be part of the evaluation, but is that the best that we should be doing as we move forward? Or is it with Didi at short? Or is it with some other alternative that’s a potential trade or a free agent signing that we haven’t been talking about? Those are the things we have to evaluate and discuss.”

Torres can only get better defensively at shortstop, making him the obvious answer here, and when factoring in his stellar hitting abilities, this should be a no-brainer for Cashman. The only alternative would include a trade for Francisco Lindor or another top-notch shortstop, where Torres can remain at second base, and DJ LeMahieu can fill the first base position.

New York Mets’ Free Agent Profile: Alex Wood

New York Yankees, Alex Wood

The New York Mets‘ search to replace Zack Wheeler continues. Alex Wood is a good buy-low option to replace Wheeler’s value.

Alex Wood is as good a buy-low risk as there is on the free agent market this year for the Mets. He is coming off an awful and injury-riddled season with the Reds in 2019, but that’s not who he’s been his whole career.

Wood was injured before the season started in 2019. He dealt with a back issue that kept him out until July, but never went away. He made only seven starts, he was awful, then went back on IL until the end of the season. That was hands down the worst season of Alex Wood’s career. That should affect Wood’s his price range, which should allow the Mets to jump in the race for his services.

Wood made his major league debut with the Braves in 2013 as a spot starter and reliever, the Mets handed him his first loss. He excelled in that role during his rookie season and played a similar role in 2014, though he made more starts. Wood transitioned to the starting rotation full time in 2015 and he was good.

He had a 3.54 ERA and 3.45 FIP at the trade deadline. With the Braves going nowhere fast, they traded Wood to the Dodgers in a three-team trade. Wood wasn’t as good after the trade but still provided good numbers down the stretch.

Wood’s 2016 season ended early due to injury similar to his 2019, though he had been pitching very well prior to the injury. He came back better than ever in 2017. Wood earned his first all-star appearance and finished top-10 in Cy Young voting. In 2018 Wood moved back into that starter/reliever role making 33 appearances and 27 starts. He was good again in 2017 but continued a trend of fading down the stretch that led to his move back into the pen.

Prior to the 2019 season in an effort to shed as much salary as possible Wood was traded along with Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds.

Wood is only going to be 29 for the 2020 season and has a history of being one of the best fourth starters in baseball. Over the first six years of his career Wood averaged 134 IP, though two of those years saw him in the bullpen a lot. He had an ERA of 3.29, a FIP of 3.36, an ERA+ of 117, and he limited the home run allowing just 0.8 HR/9.

Wood should come at a cheaper price due to his injury that could be in the Mets’ range. If that’s the case they have to make a move to sign him. Prior to 2019 Wood had never had an ERA, FIP, or XFIP of 4.00 or over. There aren’t many pitchers in baseball who can say that. Adding that kind of pitcher to the New York Mets’ already stellar rotation is the least they can do to try and replace Wheeler.

New York Yankees: Why Aaron Hicks is the New Jacoby Ellsbury 

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

I thought it was a bad signing when I heard it. And so far, little is happening to dissuade me. But the second Aaron Hicks signed his name on the dotted line, the New York Yankees front office should already be regretting giving Aaron Hicks a 7 year $70 million contracts.

He and Ellsbury Have the Same Bugaboo

Hicks can’t stay healthy. Ellsbury couldn’t stay healthy. Hicks has a harder time staying healthy than Ellsbury.

Ellsbury, in his 11-year career, has played 3/4 of the season (120 games or more) 6 out of 11 seasons. Aaron Hicks has done that approximately twice in his 7-year career. He averages playing a full half-season, leaving the team trying to figure out who to start the other 82 games in the year. This means that Jacoby Ellsbury was more dependable for his teams than Aaron Hicks.

Hicks has got a better arm than Ellsbury, has but what good does it do you when you miss half the year? He covers more ground and can save you more runs defensively than Ellsbury, but what good does it do you when you miss half the season? And for someone heralded for his “great eye and speed”, he has a lower career on-base percentage and stolen base rate than Ellsbury, which begs the question “Why was he an upgrade when he’s hurt more frequently than Ellsbury?”

Why His Contract is Already Blowing Up in the Yankees Face

He signed the contract in 2019 and almost immediately proceeds to get hurt. The recovery from the injury was prolonged in ways that no one could have anticipated. Then, after he comes back, he gets hurt, AGAIN! He plays less than 60 games last season, and really only gets playing time in October because of Stanton’s injury. Now, he, like Didi in 2019, will miss at least half the season with Tommy John surgery in his throwing elbow. You know, the elbow responsible for his cannon of an arm?

It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Hicks will come back as fast as Didi, and it’s also not outside of the same realm it’ll take him longer than Didi. The projected recovery time from Tommy John surgery is 8 to 10 months for Hicks. So let’s say Hicks can be back in 6 months. He got the surgery in October. That puts him in rehab games by April, back to the club May/June. 8 months means he doesn’t start the rehab process till June, potentially giving him an arrival date of July/August. If it takes 10 months, that means he wouldn’t be able to play many, if any, rehab games as 10 months mean he starts rehabbing in August. If it becomes the 10-month option, the Yankees should just shut him down and see him in February 2021.

So that already 2 years, and $20 million dollars given to someone who might play 141 games over that span. Granted, it’s still better than Ellsbury not being able to play any games since the 2017 postseason, but Ellsbury at least averaged 120 games played in his 4 seasons of playing time with the team. Hicks could only do that once. And with Hal Steinbrenner’s penny pitching, that’s $70 million that should be going to the front line ace that we needed 3 seasons ago, but never wanted to spend the money because “Oh no! We gotta stay below the luxury tax!”

I’m telling you, if he doesn’t have a spectacular 2021-2023, where he remains healthy all season long, this will go down as an even more misguided contract than the one they gave Ellsbury.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge Is Ready For An MVP Season

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

New York Yankees star right fielder Aaron Judge is ready to finally have an MVP season. The only thing holding him back is whether he can stay healthy all year.

In both 2018 and 2019, Judge missed a significant portion of the season with an injury. He broke his wrist getting hit by a pitch in 2018, and had a pretty serious oblique injury in 2019.

He only had 378 at-bats in 2019, but still bat .272 with 27 home runs and 55 RBIs with an OPS well over .900. The injury last season was early in the season, and it affected him a lot when he returned. He struggled for a while before finally getting all the rust off and finally killed it in the last two or so months of the year.

Judge was flawless on defense, literally. He didn’t have a single error in the 92 games he played in the field. One thing that stands out about his defense is his strong arm, and he had seven outfield assists.

Judge is a solid base runner and has sneaky good speed that allows him to steal a bag here and there, and the speed definitely contributes to his stellar defense.

In his three MLB seasons, Judge has won a silver slugger (2017), a rookie of the year award (2017), been selected to two all-star teams (2017 and 2018), and has a second place finish in the MVP voting (2017).

Now, all he’s missing is a first place MVP award. There’s no reason why he can’t do it as long as he stays healthy. He’s such a well rounded player, and that deserves to be recognized if he has an historic year.

Giants: Lawrence Taylor named to NFL’s All-Time Team

New York Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was named to the NFL’s All-Time Team on Friday night, cored unanimously by a panel of 26 historians and experts.

As part of the league’s 100th Anniversary, the panel will reveal the team position by position through Week 17 of the regular season. On Friday night, they unveiled the finalists at defensive line and linebackers. A formidable bunch if there ever was one:

DEFENSIVE END (7): Doug Atkins, Bill Hewitt, Deacon Jones*, Gino Marchetti*, Lee Roy Selmon, Bruce Smith, Reggie White.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (7): Buck Buchanan, Joe Greene, Bob Lilly*, Merlin Olsen, Alan Page*, John Randle, Randy White.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (6): Chuck Bednarik, Bobby Bell, Derrick Brooks, Jack Ham, Ted Hendricks, Lawrence Taylor*.

MIDDLE LINEBACKER (6): Dick Butkus*, Jack Lambert, Willie Lanier, Ray Lewis, Joe Schmidt, Junior Seau.

*Denotes unanimous selection.

Taylor was the only New York Giant selected to the group. The Giants had four other semifinalists in the running: linebackers Sam Huff and Harry Carson and defensive ends Michael Strahan and Andy Robustelli.  All five are Pro Football Hall of Famers.

Fennelly: Quite simply the best player I ever personally saw play in my 50-plus years of watching football. There were others who were close – Jerry Rice and Walter Payton to name a few – but Taylor defined what a defensive player could be.  He was named NFL MVP in 1986, one of only two defensive players to ever have that honor bestowed on them. (Minnesota’s Alan Page was the other in 1971).

From the NFL Network:

Lawrence Taylor (1981-1993)

1999 Pro Football Hall of FameInductee… Two-time Super BowlChampion… Redefined the way OLB position was played… One of only two defensive players ever to win NFL MVP award when he led NFL with career-high 20.5 sacks in 1986… Three-time NFL Defensive Player of Year, 1981-1982, 1986… Made Pro Bowl in each of 1st 10 NFL seasons, 1981-1990… 1st-team All-Pro in eight of 1st nine seasons… Great intensity, speed, strength fueled attack style… Posted 132.5 career sacks, 2nd-most in NFL at time of retirement… Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team for 1980s… Selected by the New York Giants as the 1st round pick (2nd overall) in the 1981 NFL Draft… Born February 4, 1959, in Williamsburg, VA.

Bill Belichick: “Well, I think I had the honor of coaching the greatest defensive football player in the history of the game. He helped make me a great coach. …LT’s rookie year, I mean, this guy could do it all, OK? Offense, defense, special teams, wherever you wanted him to play, he would have been a great two-way player if he had played in the two-way era.”

Ray Lewis: “In 1986, I was 11 years old and my grandfather said, I want you to watch somebody, and I’m sitting there, and this TV comes on and it’s LT. It was a stream of four, five, six plays where I didn’t care about watching nobody else but actually watching his impact on hitting other men. And I’m watching this time after time again and now because I understand the science of it I’m watching you do this and I’m like they don’t want this fight.”

Taylor: “I got that mentality from my father. My father used to tell me, ‘You have to be better than the next man just to be equal.’ I’m proud, I’m happy, I’m content with the actions that I had on the football field. …I’ve been very fortunate to have some great coaching and even though I may not listen in meetings, I do listen on game day.”